Welcome to synergistics

Synergistics is the art and science of building synergy and collaboration, with the principles of collective intelligence, for prosperity and sustainability in turbulent times.

To live together on a small planet, we need new ways of organizing cities and economies and societies. This calls for a new operating system, one based on collaboration and collective intelligence.

The experimental space for such ideas is the Collaboratorium / a.k.a. LUCID (‘Laboratory of Urban Collective Intelligence’). This is open to anyone working on sustainable futures – local and global – with deeper layers of value, wider communities of interest, and further horizons of change…  

And so you are invited to join the Collaboratorium community for updates & invitations

The source-book for many of these ideas is a handbook to the ‘perils and promises’ of the 21st century – DEEPER CITY–  (here are some reviews). 

On this site you will find 5 main pages (each with an overview below) –

  • Collaboratorium   – overview of this experimental zone for learning & thinking on collective intelligence.
  • Themes – 3 main programs including ‘cities, ecologies and technologies’, with a Foresight 3.0 program on the overlap.
  • Projects – recent and ongoing projects which explore & demonstrate the potential of collective intelligence
  • Toolkits – a set of practical methods tools and guidance:
  • Resources a library of visual pathway mappings (based on the book), for cities, economies, ecologies, technologies, politics and others (in progress)


Welcome to the book

And here are various materials for the Deeper City book ….


A wider set of resources are shared with the visual thinking ‘sand-pit’ of Urban-3.0 –  further samples from  The Book:    the Mind Games and Political Games with visual storylines : background on the  Synergistics ideas & methods: deeper and wider insights and experiments in Visual Thinking.)



Upcoming open events

  • Eco-wars-3.0 – 28th October 2022: (new date) –If a world war is even a remote possibility…. as both cause and effect of catastrophic climate change… how do they connect??   We need ways to think ahead for a viable future with all on board.  This pilot program is an experiment in co-production of a ‘collective foresight intelligence’.  (Spaces are limited).
  •  World Peri-Urban Day  – 1st November 2022: (follows ‘Urban October’ & World Cities Day). We launch the new Global Peri-Urban Initiative working out of Chennai –  along with the completed global project Peri-cene.  This includes a new compendium on Peri-Urban-Rural Linkages for the UN Habitat Urban-Rural Linkages program.


New projects & initiatives

  • Ground zone / Liveable city toolkit:  The Ground Zone project is an Innovation Lab collaboration between the Manchester Urban Institute, and architects Callison RTKL. 


Collaboratorium – overview

In this Collaboratorium we aim to explore the frontiers and principles of ‘collective intelligence’, its methods and tools, and practical applications.  We aim to demonstrate the pathways forward, with analysis, examples, guidance, methods & tools.

Following a first phase of experimentation (2020-22), a forward plan is now forming with 4 main strands:

  1. Projects & case studies: experiments & applications, new & ongoing: some have open invitations to participate
  2. Community & dialogue: debates and symposia, ‘lab tours’, online comment;
  3. Research & publication: compile special issues and a multi-author ‘CI-Book’ (‘collective intelligence book of online knowledge’);
  4. Policy & practice: disseminate results, methods & tools, with ‘white papers’ & practical guides.

This is planned as a multi-year program, exploring a range of topics in 4 key themes and their intersections:

  • City-wise theme: ‘Peri-urban-wise’ & MCR-wise’
  • Smart-wise theme: ‘CHAI-wise’ & ‘Local-wise’
  • Eco-wise theme : ‘Climate-wise’ & ‘Bio-wise’.
  • Foresight 3.0’ is at the intersection of these clusters, with studies on collective intelligence, futures methods & applications: (also, ‘Pandemonics-3.0’ was a key focus 2020-22). 


Forward thinkers and interested co-authors are invited to join these workshops as they come up on the links. 

For comments or queries, contact joe.ravetz@manchester.ac.uk

Projects – overview

This is the ‘inhouse’ Collaboratorium – an experimental zone for a ‘collective intelligence laboratory’. Here the synergistic methods are being developed and tested in a range of projects, large and small, from around the world. 



Bemine (Finland)

Finland sees rapid urbanization, bringing sprawl, polarization and rural decline. The ‘Bemine’ project explores pathways for transformation in urban development. Synergistics helps to cross-fertilize 70+ research outputs, and co-create new ‘Envisions’ for the future.

Mini-Lab (UK)

The Mini-Lab (Metropolitan INnovation & Intelligence Laboratory) is a small prototype for a collective intelligence program. It works on low carbon retrofit & environmental governance. We aim towards a ‘multi-versity’ of co-learning and co-production between policy makers and researchers.

Risk & resilience (Australia)

The rising seas and gathering storms of the coming decades need more than building of walls. To adapt and co-evolve, we need to look at how society works, learns, thinks and communicates – a next generation Resilience-III.

Looper – Learning Loops

Looper is setting up ‘Learning Loop Living Labs’ in Brussels, Manchester, and Verona. These are new models for experimental design and innovation at the community level, for problems such as air quality, road safety, noise, crime or greenspace.

Smart-Wise Inclusive Cities (India)

The disruptive power of smart technologies is now emerging. This calls for a new agenda – ‘Smart-Wise Inclusive Cities’ (SWIC), which steer the ‘smart power’ towards social equality, sustainable livelihoods & open governance. SWIC-India is a small pilot to test the synergistic methods, ready for scaling up to global level

Low Carbon Futures (Qatar)

Qatar may be at a crossroads in environmental history. With the world’s third-largest natural gas reserves its wealth is huge, but vulnerable. Everything could change with international climate change policy, market effects, or national priorities. For the shift to renewable energy, there is a clear advantage for the first mover. All this points to a Foresight-III approach to building capacity, for collaborative learning, thinking, creating and doing.

Water governance (GM)

Water governance is split across public, private and civic sectors: there are many gaps, overlaps and barriers to integrated catchment management. To design more effective governance structures, we can use Synergistic principles. Then we can address the whole of the water cycle: supply, demand, water quality, groundwater, flood risk management and drainage.


(Peri-urban climate-environment)

From space, the human impact on the planet is seen by the spread of cities, but cities themselves are spreading into much larger areas of sprawl, around and between them. The planet has arguably entered the ‘Peri-cene’ – a new global human-environment system shaped by peri-urbanization. The PERI-CENE project will provide the first ever comprehensive assessment of global peri-urbanisation, with its climate impacts, risks and vulnerabilities. For more see http://peri-cene.net

Toolkit – overview

The Synergistic Toolkit is designed for working with complex inter-connected problems. It shows how to turn a ‘Nexus’ of contradictions, into a ‘Connexus’ of opportunities. It’s a package of methods, tools, techniques, and templates.

The Toolkit helps to understand a complex present, and explore the pathways to opportunities in the future. It works with a 4 stage process – ‘Systems / scenarios / synergies / strategies’.


First we explore the wider and deeper nature of the problem.
Find out more


Second we look at the forces of change and future uncertainty.
Find out more


Third we look for visions and shared opportunities between all.
Find out more


Finally we turn the visions into pathways for strategy and action.
Find out more

Resources – overview

People on stairs

The synergistic resources will be a structured collection of materials, on the art and science of synergistics, and the pathways ‘from smart to wise’. 

This is ongoing work in progress, with mappings on each of the 40 synergistic pathways

Deeper City is about collective intelligence and the next generation operating systems, local and global. This comes in different forms. There’s a jungle type intelligence for a ‘smart’ city where the ‘winner-takes-all’. And there’s a civilizational intelligence, for a ‘wise’ city, where ‘winners-are-all’. So how to get ‘from smart to wise’?   Deeper City maps out 40 pathways, ranging from cities to economies, technologies, ecologies, politics, insights and the global future.  These are not ‘solutions’, more like more useful ways to ask the questions…