The word synthesis certainly doesn't roll off the tongue like 'other' new blacks but David Armano of Critical Mass and Logic + Emotion has a great essay on the need for people that can synthesize as it relates to the 'how' of design.
What's the 'how'? The 'how' is something that many designers are great at but that often goes unnoticed. It's the step that occurs before the 'doing' of a project. Where you figure out where you should be targeting your efforts. Simply put, it's doing some critical research, thinking, planning, analysis, and conceptualization about what you THINK you should be doing in the first place before you actually go off and do it.
I believe that the more options technology gives us—the more complexity, and potential—then the more important it becomes to hone in that core set of "truths" AND be able to articulate them to a diverse set of project influencers. The reality is that while many of us think we have this ability—few probably do it really well. But you know it when you see it, they are the ones who are able to cut right through the distractions—to the essence of the problem. But they don’t stop there, they are able to tell stories which move people to a point consensus or action—or just move them period. Synthesizers help take the inputs, distill them into something meaningful and articulate and output them in compelling, meaningful ways.
David Armano, Logic + Emotion
Does it sound fuzzy (See David's excellent presentation on fuzziness as well) and hard to explain? That's because it is and generally designers can do a lousy job of articulating what is increasingly becoming the only differentiating practice that designers can bring to the innovation of products,services or software. Remember, that design, just like quality and performance are table stakes, they are expected and not rewarded and easily copied.
But what is rewarded is when people apply great design to the RIGHT problem in the RIGHT way and that's what design thinking is all about. Synthesizers are those shamans that can make that happen in the cross disciplinary world designers, marketers, product designers, engineers, marketers and business sponsors. Does your organization have synthesizers. Are you a synthesizer?