the blog Synergy

Friday, September 30, 2005

Seth says

Seth Godin has his 1002 post today and provides this advice:
  1. Make something worth making.
  2. Sell something worth talking about.
  3. Believe in what you do because you may have to do it for a long time before it catches on.
  4. Don't listen to the first people who give you feedback.
  5. Don't give up. Not for a while, anyway.

Good advice.

What do you think?


"Our connections with each other cannot help but to enhance our connections with the land." - David Rothacker, Rothacker Reviews

Thursday, September 29, 2005

smart glasses - a challenge

From sonjab over at comes this interesting posting on the development of some smart glasses.

This invention describes devices and methods that can help people process images and text. More specifically, it can simplify text for those who may have a learning disability, assist individuals with color blindness, and enable a person to see translated language. All of this is accomplished with glasses or goggles that actually transform the content that an individual sees.

“I was in Haifa for work and had a hard time finding my way around because I could not read the street signs,” said Sorensen, one of the inventors. “Something of a science fiction fan, it occurred to me that a simple combination of a number of technologies that IBM was working on could be used to solve this very real problem.”

Now, this sounds like synergy to me!

What's next?

If you had the magic wand that could create something, what would you create?

What problem would you solve?

Dignity is deadly - Paul Graham

Kathy Sierra writing at Creating Passionate Users has another excellent posting about a talk by Paul Graham that she heard recently.

My head was already spinning by bullet point six, but the one simple thing that stuck in my head was "dignity is deadly." Specifically this thought (I'm paraphrasing):

When you evolve out of start-up mode and start worrying about
being professional and dignified, you only lose capabilities. You don't add anything... you only take away. Dignity is deadly.

Read the whole thing and let's talk about this. I think one needs to walk the fine line here.

There are start up behaviors, and there are corporate behaviors.

Or is there just an evolving business behavior?

What do you think?

Thursday, September 22, 2005


What's the point?

The 100.bloggers project is under new management. Email me if you are interested in getting involved.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Resonance and synergy

What I call the ideology of leadership is full of some powerful images. Perhaps the most compelling one is that of the one-head organization. In this kind of leadership system the element that compels to action and provides meaning to the activity of the company is the shared belief in the leadership of the leading head. Employees are aligned around a project and that project is led by a head alone. The image that best fits with this model of leadership is the rowing team.

But what happens when it comes to work in a synergic field? Can synergies foster a new way of understanding leadership? Do we have to expect constituents to be aligned when synergies emerge in their mutual interaction?

I think there is another word that can throw some light to this question. It is RESONANCE. Leaders in a synergic field resonate. It is a poliphony of personalities.

Recently, Daniel Goleman has used the concept of resonance in his book "Primal leadership". In my opinion Goleman´s use of the idea of resonance is different from what we can find in a synergic field. For Goleman, a leader finds her path, fulfills his function when her voice resonates in the hearts of her constituents. This would be a variety of the one-head leadership model, but it still keeps the same spirit.

Resonance is an idea that finds expression in the realization of synergies.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I'm good at doodling

Don't try to make me think linearly. I'm not good at it.

I would rather watch. I would rather listen. I would rather doodle.

I'm good at doodling.

I imagine the curls of ink as wisps of energy eminating from my popping synapses. The energy is real. If you try, you might be able to smell it from where you are sitting.

The Long Tail Analogy Raises a Question

From Chris Anderson writing at The Long Tail comes this excellent explanation by way of an analogy on what the long tail is and how it is used.

Read the whole thing.
Don't worry it is short and well written.
Well worth a few minutes.

Now, we are living along the Long Tail.
How do we use this info?
What can this do to help our own individual and group goals?

Should we always use the highest words in the count (read: hit or tag) list to ensure that we come up when looked for?

Or do we just go about our business and let the chips fall where they may?

What would you do?

Synergic views: The Terrific Program

In order to illustrate our view of what synergy is I´d like to offer you some cases taken from the real life. They will be representative of very different activities but they will have in common the importance of synergy to manage complex situations. We will start with Roger Noe and his Terrific Program.

1. Please Roger, tell us about your program, what is it about and who is it targeted to?

My program is called the TERRIFIC Program. It is a program designed for the prevention/intervention of substance abuse. The program is targeted for adolescents suffering from the effects of substance use/abuse or the ill effects of the drug culture. The ultimate goal of the program is to promote a healthy lifestyle free of the ill effects of substance abuse. We hope to accomplish this by providing comprehensive services for the youth and the family. The program is based on 11 principles. The first three are the goals we use use to help the youth and family achieve a substance free lifestyle. The goals are:

Personal Accountability
Helping Others.

We also have 8 standards of the program. They are:


The standards are where the name of the program comes from. The idea is to teach pro-social principles in life that can be used to overcome life problems and begin anew from this day forward.

2. What do you think are the main causes of the problem of drug abuse?

There are so many factors. There are a lot of social, emotional, and physical factors. There are certainly a number of environmental factors that have to be addressed. Drugs are permeating about every level of society. The availability of drugs is really alarming in todays society. Kids can get just about any drug on the market. they are becoming available to kids at the elemetary school level. I work with a number of kids that have an onset of drug use as early as age 8. The wide spread availability of drugs is a big problem that is growing everyday. the influence that is out there for kids is a big problem as well.

There are a lot of campaigns geared towards fighting drugs, however, kids are influenced by those closest to them and the attitudes and beliefs of those closest them. there are a growing number of kids that start to use drugs in an attempt to fit in or compensate for ego problems. The problem is that drugs are addictive and kids are often trapped in cycle of problems that gets way too big for them way too quickly.

There are so many variables that we could discuss this topic for quite some time. If I had to narrow it down to one thing I would say this, better than 90% of all drug users were introduced to drug use by someone they know and trust. Drugs are becoming more available and more potent. Those are 3 tough things to combat.

3. Do you think finding synergies among your clients help them tore-build their lives?

Absolutely! In my opinion, the most powerful force in the treatment process is the development of a therapeutic relationship. Working together is a must. Very few people have the sheer willpower to overcome the complexity of drug abuse alone. It takes a great deal of teamwork and support. It takes a great deal of effort to get to that special point of developing synergy, but it is vital.

4. Do you think it is necessary to foster synergies among different levels of the society in order to make drug abuse an exceptional case?

There is no doubt about that. As I stated earlier the social influence is huge. If we cannot make a meaningful impact on the social influence we will continue to fight a losing battle. I honestly believe that it is as important to be effective in eliminating the influencers of drug use as it is in dealing with the substance use itself. In fact, it is probably more important. If they are not influenced to use in the first place then there is no problem to deal with. Prevention is worth its weight in gold.

Wonderful Harmony

A wonderful harmony arises from joining together the seemingly unconnected.
- Heraclitus c.500 BC

As I read this quote today, I was filled with a sense of mahalo (my Hawaiian, I was very thankful) to know my name appears on this blog called Synergy, with Troy, Steve, Felix, and Trevor, and the magnificent meandering of their collected minds, kind hearts, and generous souls.

You could say the last part of that phrase described us a few short months ago, perhaps weeks ago … “seemingly unconnected.” But now, wonderful harmony indeed, and the crescendo of our music is building.

Who revolves (orbits!) around your world, “seemingly unconnected” to you? Reach out your hand as Troy did to ours, and as we hope we do to yours. Connect.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Tough Love

"If there is nothing very special about your work, no matter how hard you apply yourself, you won't get noticed, and that increasingly means you won't get paid much either." - Michael Goldhaber, Wired

Friday, September 16, 2005

Synergy at Home

Commenting on Rosa's recent post...

Steve Sherlock wrote,
Of people I have met with whom the conversation has flowed like that, they have generally ended up life long friends... and one of them became my wife...

Trevor Gay wrote,
Like Steve my best conversations are with Annie my life partner and the love of my life.
This, of course, isn't happenstance. It's no secret that people who are happy at home are more apt to be happy at work. Ergo, people who are successful at home are more likely to be successful at work. What is the correlation? It's communication. It's teamwork. It's the ability to synergize.

Like Steve and Trevor, I am fortunate in this respect. 10 years ago I was walking across a parking lot in Dallas, Texas when I spotted a girl wearing a red flannel shirt, blue jean cutoffs, and birkenstocks crossing in the opposite direction. Her arms were full of books and she was striding across the pavement deliberately. Minutes later I told my roommate I had just met the woman I was going to marry. This November Alisa and I will celebrate our ninth anniversary. She is my soulmate and my best friend.

Our Life in the Their Hands

I spend a lot of my time talking to and working with Family Doctors and Hospital Doctors here in the United Kingdom. The essence of my business is healthcare.

I just wanted to share how impressed I am with the commitment and conscientiousness of doctors. They sometime get bad press

Part of my work at the moment is to assist in a major UK National project on ‘assessment'appraisal’ of doctors by their colleagues and by their patients.

This has been bought about largely by concerns following the case of Harold Shipman, who killed 200 or more of his patients – in his time as a Family Doctor. In a nutshell no individual and no agency seemed able to alert the appropriate authorities to any suspicions about what was going on.

I spent 35 years as a manager in healthcare until I became a freelance healthcare consultant 10 months ago and I have worked with hundreds of doctors.

I am convinced that at least 98% of doctors I have known are hard working, caring and patient centred practitioners who are altruistic in their career aspirations.

The awesome responsibility that society has given to doctors brings with it many personal challenges for those doctors and many responsibilities for us as patients whose lives are often given over to the care of doctors.

Of course we have to find secure and robust methods of appraising doctors effectively to prevent the sort of Shipman incident ever happening again.

At the same time we have to make sure all doctors are not ‘labeled’ as 'another Dr Shipman' when the reality is that almost all doctors I have known are wonderful caring people just trying to help their patients at times of great need.

One of my closest colleagues - a Family Doctor - put it this way.

“Harold Shipman was first of all a murderer and secondly a family doctor. Don't label us all in the same way."

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Let’s play Synergy: Ask me a question

Synergy happens when these things take place:
  • One person gets together with someone else
  • They begin to talk. They engage with full attention
  • They find they are both in an open-minded, imaginative mood
  • They begin to get even more energized by the prospect of creating something new or different
  • They are intrigued: They enjoy listening to the other person just as much as they enjoy sharing their own ideas with them
  • They are both eager learners

There’s a myriad of things they can be creating. And not just a ‘thing’ but also ideas, options, alternatives, and seeds of thought for later planting and harvesting. It just takes conversation to happen. Dialogue.

How can these two people stay in the flow of what begins to happen, and stimulate even more momentum? By asking each other questions, really good, sky’s the limit, no holds barred, thought-provoking questions. It’s an art, however it’s also a skill you can learn.

Read those bullet points above again. Do you know of people who have that effect on you? You should think about getting together with them more often. Synergy is very rewarding.

Engage in creative play whenever you can. It’s such an enjoyable way to come up with the best possible solutions to just about everything. There’s so much brainpower out there waiting for you to tap into.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The new nomads

I am persuaded that chance is one of the main factors that shape everyone´s life. Sometimes we think we don´t have to leave any space to chance. We prefer everything to be under (our) control.

Still, my conclusion after a succession of events in my life is that you will be in a better position to face the coming events in your life if you increase the rate of chance in your life.

For Gilles Deleuze, the french thinker, there was a vital attitude that reflected the openness to chance. He called it nomad distribution. This is how he explained it.

A unique game of dices is a chaos in which every playing is a fragment. Every game settles a distribution of singularities, a constelation. But in the place of distributing a closed space among fixed results according to a hypothesis, it´s the moving results that are distributed in the open space. It is a nomad distribution and not a sedentary one, in which every system comunicates and resonates with the rest and at the same time implicates them in the big game.

I think we sometimes face the coming events in our life with a sedentary mindset. We prefer a distribution of the facts in a closed space, indeed our world, and don´t realize that life has a nomad nature. That we are made to be moving from one point to the other.

It is the nomad attitude of finding something new, an unexplored place, opening new paths that helps us to move from the problematic situations of life. It is not easy to keep this perspective in a world dominated by images of patriarchal realms, of closed spaces, of monolitic images and brands.

The new nomads face life as an adventure.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Innovation - Definition Discussion

Excellent posting over at CPH127 by Niti Bhan:

"Yesterday I attended a conversation on innovation hosted by MIG at Berkeley's Haas School of Business. It was a small informal gathering, and Victor Lombardi had kindly invited me to join the discussion. It was kicked off by Scott Hirsch, a principal of MIG with a definition of innovation he had found on the web. I'd link to it, I think it's wikipedia but as there was no source given I'm not wholly sure. This is what he used,

Innovation: An implementation of a new or significantly improved idea, good, service, process or practice intended to be useful. [ I would add the words revenue or profit in there, for the business context, else why innovate?] "

This is a good start and I liked how Harry Max from Dreamworks Animation revealed that he has trouble defining the word. He listed four things that innovation is not:

Reacting - Innovation wasn't reacting, that is, responding to changes in technology or the market
Dreaming - Innovation was not dreaming, that is, envisioning a better future as dreaming was not time dependent but free floating.
Planning - Innovation was not planning, as that was nothing more than structured dreaming, or creating a road map to achieve a goal or get somewhere
Designing - Innovation was not designing, as designing is making an idea or concept tangible, solving a problem or making something better.

He also listed five things that innovation should take advantage of from Improv

Listening & Self-Awareness
Accepting and making offers (Yes, And...)
Moving into action with full commitment
Staying nimble

For the full posting read here.

Pressed to come up with my own definition of innovation, I believe I would have started with one or more of the items that Harry tosses out, so I would have had to go back to the drawing board.

With a little luck, reflecting upon the good things that have come from working in a group, I should have come close to Harry's second listing.

Then if I had not already, I would have turned to some associates and asked for help.

What do you think? Can you help to improve upon the definition for innovation?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Bentonville Kudos!

Tom Peters writes,
Wal*Mart bashing has become a popular sport. Whether deserved or not, check out today's Investor's Business Daily. The lead story: "Wal*Mart Is Lauded For Fast Relief Aid To Katrina Victims." Though 89 of Wal*Mart's 126 facilities in the area were damaged, communications networks remained intact, and the giant's amazing distribution was able to get exactly the right supplies to exactly the right places—in most cases long before any government support arrived. As of the week's end, Wal*Mart had shipped and delivered $20 million of donated goods to the affected Gulf areas.
That's synergy.

Read Tom Peters! He is a kick in the ass.

Bringing Good Insights to Life

Phil Dusenberry, the BBDO marketing genius, provides some insights from his new book in the September 2005 issue of FastCompany Magazine.

He highlights the following points:

1 - Be really tough on the work
2 - Never let them hear you bitch and moan
3 - Judge an insight on its merits
4 - Don't compete with your people
5 - Protect insights from their enemies
6 - Let your client own your best insights

As I have mentioned previously, I am an environmentalist. I believe in creating a positive environment to nurture cooperation, learning, and life in general. Phil's second point hits right on this mark.

When people hear you complain, they take it as permission to complain, too. Whatever misgivings you have about a client or a superior, keep them to yourself. Complaining deflates morale, makes you look weak, and creates an environment that breeds negativity like a contagion.

Carefully phrase what you say. Negativity grows quickly.

Focus on the positive.

There is much we have to do but many happy hands will make for light work on the task before us.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

High Expectations = Success

This article from the Boston Sunday Globe (9/4/05) (free registration required) makes some very good points about dealing with teenagers. I would suggest that these same points can be applied to others with equal validity.

In an interview with Globe correspondent Luis Andres Henao, Susan Rodgerson spoke about her work to empower youths through jobs and art education and was quoted as saying:

"... I believe that we have to have the highest expectations for young people. We have to believe that young people can give you 100 percent..."

Expectations are so crucial to determining success. What do you expect? What you expect you'll think about. Your thoughts will help determine your actions. Your actions will determine the outcome.

If you avoid the little voices of the gremlins that can distract, decieve, distort, etc... You will succeed.

Now, the major caveat here is that the expectations must be somewhat realistic. Yes, in my 51 year old body, I am not going to set a world record in the 400M run. In my prime, it was not possible. I just did not have those genes. But within that harsh reality, there is still a world of progress. There are still personal records to work towards.

The sports/athletic analogy is an easy one to grasp. It is more difficult to talk about work situations in the same way. Gee will this spreadsheet analysis convince them that this deal is the best ever? But the concept is the same.

What expectations do you have of yourself?

What expectations do you have of others?

If they are not high (but within the bounds of reality) expectations, I suggest you go back and think about readjusting them.

BTW - Congratulations to Susan and the others who are assisting in making her program a success. We need more of this.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Evolution, Revolution or...Synergic Fields?

Academic business education has been focused in the explanation of models. These models were kinds of maps of possible situations, real situations and historic situations, depending on the period the map intended to represent, past, present or future. That was the birth of all the planning tools in the business world. The world was so simple that it really could be represented with some kind of accuracy.

The transition from one model to the other was a succession of stages. And as evolved in time, this kind of business understanding can be called EVOLUTIONARY. The main idea after the evolutionary models is PROGRESSION. The aim of business was to progress, to go a step further, to go from one model to the next. From a strategic plan to the next. I think Michael Porter can be a good example of this kind of making business.

After the evolutionary world, things started to change. People realized they could not reflect the changing world without losing a big rate of confidence in the models. The economy was becoming disruptive and the strategies that worked were those who meant a revolt against the stablished ways of doing things. It was the time of REVOLUTION. I think Tom Peters has been the minister of revolutionary management.

Still revolution is a word that has deep resonances. Revolution was used in the past to refer to the movements of the stars. It meant a circular movement. For instance, that is how Aristotle explained the revolutionary character of thinking.

Intellect has to be necessarily a circle: the movement of the intellect is intellection, and the movement of the circle is revolution, then if the intellection is revolution, the intellect has to be the circle of revolution, that is intellection.

Revolution has the shape of the circular movement as evolution has the shape of the linear movement. Then revolution has always the shape of a process that finnally gets back to it´s origins. Revolution is a kind of repetition.

This is not only an originality of mine. Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote one of his most famous political treatises, The Ancient Regime and the Revolution to explain the idea that most of the political institutions of France in the XIXth century were not an effect of the French Revolution but existed in the previous system of totallitarianism.

And the question now is, is there any other possibility? Can we understand business from a perspective that not be linear or evolutionary, nor circular or revolutionary?

Yes. I want to talk for the first time about the SYNERGIC FIELDS.

A synergic field is neither a line, nor it is a circle. It is essentially a field. A field is defined by these traits:

It has a horizon.

It has depth.

It has space.

Things are in it in a relationship of respectiveness.

A synergic field is the alternative to the blind linear thinking of evolutions and the repetitive activity of revolutions.

A synergic field...

Encourages exploration.

Permits circulation, even wild circulation.

Allows dramatic performance.

Heals disruptions by field connections.

Synergy in Learning

This month, I must share with you that I am a bit obsessed with All Things Learning. It’s spilling over into everything, and this blog is no exception. How could it be with synergy as such a strongly compelling heartbeat?

I honestly find the possibility of greater learning to be the most exciting and enticing concept inherent in the notion of Team Synergy. It is true that everyone on a team is expected to fully participate, and when that happens anything petty (e.g. concerns with fair contributions, the willingness to accept ownership unless everyone else does) is wonderfully absent.

However in my experience, there is also an underlying, yet ever-present requirement in every team for humility. At first glance this seems to be a rule of civilized engagement, but consider this: when you understand it as humility, your graciousness serves as the key for your own greater learning. What team synergy does for you is evolve your learning so that it is dynamic and not stagnant, for in a good team, you have a safe environment in which to offer your ideas in raw form so they may be built to their true potential. You offer them up for the creation of that Third Alternative, in effect saying, “I don’t know everything I want to know about this.”

Consider these wonderful quotes:

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.
- Alvin Toffler

It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows.
- Epictetus (c.55 - c.135)

We on Team Synergy have been having conversations about our focus and our vision, for we all share a very strong desire to create something extraordinarily special in this emerging blog Synergy community for you. The learning gifts I am receiving from Troy, Steve, Felix and Trevor already are profound to me, and I can only imagine that we have seen the tip of the iceberg.

Community is that greater ice mass which keeps the tip of an iceberg above the water’s surface. I hope you will be tempted to join into conversations here. The best is yet to come.

Photo credit.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Different kinds of will

Sometimes I´ve been persuaded there are people who have more will than others. Especially when it comes to leading projects, you realize some people can reach a wider range of problems, they solve them and still they find something that pushes them to keep working.

I was reading one of Nietzsche´s aphorisms yesterday and I found that the philosopher shared this view of things. These are his words:

I consider men for the amount of energy they contain, for the fullness of their will, and not for their weakness and their fading will.

I measure the power of a will for it´s way of facing adversity, for the torture and pain it can resist

I don´t know if will can be measured but i do think some people behave as if they had more will than others.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Reading & seizing

From the September issue of FastCompany I find this timely article by Bill Breen on leadership. (Bold is mine for emphasis)

What are the elements of this alloy we call "leadership"? Certainly, they include vision and integrity, perseverance and courage, a hunger for innovation, and a willingness to take risks. But in building their list of the top business leaders of the past century, Harvard Business School professors Anthony J. Mayo and Nitin Nohria have unearthed an immutable attribute that's shared by all of the giants of business: They had an innate ability to read the forces that shaped the times in which they lived -- and to seize on the resulting opportunities.
The article continues to identify three types of leaders: the entreprenuer, the manager, and the charismatic leader. I particular I found the story of C W Post enlightening. I grew up eating some Post cereals. I did not know the connection.

... Post's real genius lay in his ability to sense that a new, national consumer was emerging in America. He saw that as the nation was becoming increasingly industrialized -- as women entered the workforce and families spent more time on the job -- time itself was becoming increasingly valuable. People were willing to pay for convenience.

Post also seized on publications such as Ladies' Home Journal. They were perceived as credible purveyors of information, and Post used them to reach this new national consumer. He started off selling door-to-door, but he used changing demographics and social mores to launch a product that was nationally distributed, nationally advertised, and nationally consumed. He was one of the first to recognize the power of a national brand.

An entrepreneurial leader's genius lies in bringing things together in a combination that no one has ever seen before. Post was one of this country's great business visionaries, but he failed at the managerial act -- which is to build a system in the organization that routinizes the entrepreneur's creation.

Read more about Post here.

With the disaster caused by Katrina, it will be interesting to see leaders develop. If there is one thing a crisis will do, it will make or break a leader. Who will step forward and execute to help the recovery?

Time will tell.

I hope and pray for those displaced that the time it takes is not too long!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Synergy is visible now.

Like so many of you I have not been able to bear the images of Katrina’s destruction at the very same time that I cannot tear myself away from watching them: I work from a home office, and a small tv I have in the corner has remained on CNN Headline News. Within the horrific reality of so many left homeless, and entire cityscapes of ruin, are emerging the stories of human compassion, giving and resiliency. In one moment I am crying as I see such pain, and in the next I am cheering for the strength I see, and for those who have no patience or tolerance for bureaucracy or red tape: They are determined to do whatever it takes to make things right. No effort is too little, no effort is too much. This may be the most dramatic display of true synergy we will ever be witness to.

Flood Perspective

From Shelley Powers at Burningbird comes this history lesson to put the Katrina caused mess in the South in perspective:

When floods happen, people move, but when the waters recede some return, while others move in. Life goes on, because flooding, no matter how tragic the losses, is a part of life. It is a part of the delta, a legacy and a price for living by the river.

Right now, the delta is being hit again, but this time it isn’t Old Man River who is to blame. Lots of stories about this new flood, too; lots of cries of doom and destruction: Thousands are dead, exclaims the mayor, even while he has people on roofs listening in on radio;Katrina leaves a trail of death and destruction, says the papers, even while people desperately hope for a green cot in a dome in another city; The Mississippi coast is gone, says the governor, even as people pick through rubble and find a single shoe. The recovery will take years, says the President, even as the finger pointing and blaming has begun. Stories about looters and havoc and ruin and how nothing will be the same again.

As usual Shelley writes with passion and spices her work with pictures. Check it out!

The sun must shine

Calm comes after the storm and the sun must shine after Katrina. The sun that can be found in the hearts of the people.

Thoughts and Prayers

Keep the victims of Katrina and their families and friends in your thoughts and prayers.

How you can help

Awesome destruction

The TV footage and newspaper pictures of the devastation in New Orleans and the surrounding regions shows the awesome power of nature.

What an awful tragedy is unfolding there.

From over the pond here in England our thoughts and prayers are with you.