I wrote this post for wiki -
Symphonic Thinking is a 'profound logic' demonstrated by the ability to gather and utilise a diversity of information, to find and build connections between various subjects, and finally to unite these singular sources into a unified whole. Symphonic is related to the word 'symphony', describing the work and role of a conductor or composer.
The origins of Symphonic Thinking in relation to music is possibly sourced from a famous conversation between the great Finnish composer
Jean Sibelius and the Bohemian composer Gustav Mahler in Helsinki in 1907, in which they exchanged their views on Symphony. Sibelius told Mahler that symphony was about the “profound logic that created an inner connection between all the motives" and that "the symphony should be like the world: it must embrace everything." Thus arose the birth of 'Symphonic' as a particular line of thought or 'profound logic'.
Symphonic Thinkers have the big picture, consider whole systems or systems theory and can draw useful information from many sources, genres and formats.
Typically artists, musicians, poets, authors and right brain thinkers are Symphonic Thinkers but Symphonic Thinking is related to all aspects of life. Daniel H. Pink has written about symphonic thinking in 'A Whole New Mind', particularly about its usefulness in an age when communication technology allows for the re-distribution of specialist skills around the world, creating a global economy where Symphonic Thinkers can fill the looming gap left by out-sourcing 'automative' roles.
Symphonic Thinkers can see connections easily, find effective solutions and create efficiency. The best Symphonic Thinker can utilize both right and left brain hemispheres, granting a multi-dimensional approach to solving problems. By these attributes, the great mathematician George Polya was a Symphonic Thinker, exemplified by his book ‘How to Solve It’.
Other Symphonic Thinkers who may not have been classified as such but are definitely forerunners of this type of thinking include Noam Chomsky, considered the father of modern linguistics; Bill Mollison, the originator of Permaculture 'Design'; Margaret Mead a Cultural Anthropologist and Gregory Bateson for Systems Theory; Joanna Macy, who combines Buddhism, general systems theory and deep ecology; Arne Naess for evolving Deep Ecology and Ecosophy; Amartya Sen, the Indian economist and Nobel winner; Martha Nussbaum the American philosopher; and Michael Reynolds the architect who has formalised Earthships. There are of course, many more examples, which may be added to this list.
More on Symphonic Thinking can be found in a paper titled "Creating Symphonic Thinking" by Merrick Furst and Richard DeMillo