Synthesizer or Editor: Practical Relationship

March 10th, 2015 || No Comments
Part 2 of 3 – to read the first article in this series, refer to this post.

Does synthesizing always precede editing?

Clearly, there is a lead-lag relationship between synthesis and editing, because the former begets the latter. Editing is the vessel that carries a process from concept to reality. It is that crucial aggregation of incremental thoughts and practical actions that continuously improves a synthesized idea until it becomes reality.

If “Necessity (market need) is the Mother of Invention,” then I propose that “Editing (making it happen) is the Father of Invention.”

Gates versus Jobs

Let’s consider this anecdotal example of the synthesizer-editor dyad.

The young Steve Jobs, then an unknown, synthesized his vision of a world where everyone would not only have access to personal computing, but would also have an enjoyable and captivating experience; even non-technical users would be inspired.

Steve had a revolutionary concept. It was referred to as the “Macintosh Way,” coined from Steve’s persona and synthesis of a non-existent generation of computing environments, and the associated Apple cult culture, which Jobs evangelized. (See also Guy Kawasaki’s endless writings on this.)

Ironically, the concept required the editing genius of the young Bill Gates to fully blossom and flourish in the emerging market of operating systems.

We’re all familiar with the history and iconoclastic rivalry that ensued, but take a moment to admire the perfection of this synthesizer-editor union.

Gates was able to exploit Jobs’ synthesized vision of the Graphical User Interface (GUI) and fuse it with the utilitarian Disk Operating System (DOS) to share Microsoft Windows with the world.

No doubt, the real computing history buffs will argue that Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) actually synthesized / invented the first mouse, the first GUI, and many other computing and usability innovations, not Steve and his cohort Andy.

I agree in principle, but Xerox PARC synthesized in isolation and failed to connect with the editors that would bring their innovations to fruition. Instead, their ideas fueled Steve’s inclusion into the larger fabric of his own vision—the world of engaging computing.

Why does all this matter?

Knowing where your own strengths lie on the spectrum can help guide many important decisions. Objectively defining your talents toward either synthesizing or editing can spare you countless career misfires from pursuing the wrong one of these two very different paths.

It can also provide an internal scale for balancing the skills and abilities of your team, your company, even your personal relationships. Natural synthesizers have a wonderful affinity for natural editors (and vice versa), and the pairing is nearly always mutually beneficial.

It’s only natural that we aspire to master both pursuits. However, we are (like it or not) only going to be truly skilled in one.

The art of self-discovery is then to determine which path we are more attuned to, and then passionately and intelligently pursue it. There is no “better choice” of the two, other than the one that fits you.

Are you a synthesizer or an editor?

With music we have composers (synthesizers) and performers (editors). A gifted composer can illuminate our minds and offer inspiration. Yet, it takes the performer to transform these representations on paper into emotionally charged memories through their musical interpretation.

Without composers we have no musical inspiration; similarly, without performers we have no musical interpretation. So is one more important than the other? Both are inextricably linked and must be equally developed, respected, and appreciated.

Read on to learn more about how this can apply to your organization.

Read part 3 of the series here.

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