the blog Synergy

Sunday, August 06, 2006

What is the stuff of synergy?

What is the stuff of synergy?

Synergy is defined as a cooperative interaction among groups or individuals, two or more agents or forces, so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects, so that they create a whole which is greater than its parts.

But how exactly does this happen?

Cultures that value teamwork can be manufactured:
  • + Leaders cn communicate a clear expectation that teamwork and collaboration are expected.
  • + Leaders can model teamwork in their interaction with each other and the rest of the organization.
  • + Organization members can talk about and identify the value of a teamwork culture.
  • + Teamwork can be rewarded and recognized.
  • + People can discuss important company stories and folklore that emphasize teamwork.

Leaders can...

  • + Form teams to solve real work issues.
  • + Hold department meetings to reviews projects and progress.
  • + Build fun and shared occasions into the organization’s agenda.
  • + Use ice breakers and teamwork exercises at meetings.
  • + Celebrate team successes publicly.

But all these things do not necessarily result in synergy. These things are merely motions, like the slow turning of cogs. Synergy is the stuff of something else.

Synergy is not something to be constructed in a manufactured environment. Synergy is a reaction ignited by something more. It is not the product of conference rooms or sterile laboratories. Rather, it is the stuff of garages and coffee houses, places where individuality and diversity of thought flourish, places of inhibition and freedom of expression, places of engagement and enthusiasm and energy, places of spontaneity.

This is the stuff of synergy: engagement, enthusiasm, and energy. All must be personally engaged in the process. All must express enthusiasm for others input. All must ensure a continuous flow of energy to sustain the iterative cycling of thoughts. Engagement and enthusiasm and energy beget spontaneity, a spark, the spontaneous combustion of synergy.

This is the stuff of synergy. I think.

What do you think? What are the vital incredients of synergy?


  • At 1:23 PM, Blogger SayitBetterKare said…

    Troy, perhaps the most difficult stage in creating synergy is in following the "inside-out" mindset:

    1. Get specific on the sweet spot of greatest mutual interest
    2. Get specific on what action together has the highest chance of early success around that sweet spot (a win together makes synergy real)
    3.Get specific about the first step to succeed

    !. Address the other person's need or desire related to that sweet spot

    2. Describe the mutual interest

    3. Only then: Tell how it helps you

    4. Ask the other person if she/he would like to explore the idea

    I wrote a whole book on this method for Dutton Penguin called Getting What You Want and (ironically)did not get what I wanted - another title for the book that exemplified rather than contradicted the message of the book... but that is part of learning how hard it is for some people to see the potentially greater power of us, over solo "me" or "you"

  • At 12:17 PM, Blogger Dave Sovde said…

    I think this is a brilliant post.

    Synergy is exactly as you describe it. However, it can be manufactured. I have been doing it for years with a simple system that get everyone involved in a common goal that benefits everyone.

    Teamwork makes the dream work. When a group buys into that well-known social truth it becomes a mindset that leads to synergy.

  • At 2:23 PM, Blogger Rosa Say said…

    Troy, your post is causing me to think about leadership again, and how necessary it is in synergistic teams.

    People get so bombarded with stuff, and our lives get increasingly fuller. Focus and diligence gets more and more important for teams.

    On the one hand, I agree that energy and spontaneity can be critical - you say that, "it is the stuff of garages and coffee houses, places where individuality and diversity of thought flourish, places of inhibition and freedom of expression, places of engagement and enthusiasm and energy, places of spontaneity."

    And frankly, with so many choices available to us, if it's not fun, why even bother.

    However ultimately, someone, or something, must keep the fire burning so attention is not fragmented.

    It is something I must personally admit to every single day.

  • At 5:55 PM, Blogger ellenweber said…

    This is an excellent post and it reminds me that synergy gets a negative effect in the human brain when certain drugs or drinks are mixed.

    At times negative synergy occurs because two or more people forget that synergy takes tone, tolerates ambiguity and allows for opposing views. What a thoughtful post -- thanks!

  • At 7:01 PM, Blogger Steve Sherlock said…

    Troy, great posting. Getting some good traction here.

    Dave, I agree that synergy can be manufactured. It is perhaps not as easy as in a garage (or entreprenurial spot) but the leadership can create the proper environment to foster and nurture creativity and synergy in a corporate/cubicle world.

    I also like your phrasing "teamwork makes the dreamwork" nice quote!

  • At 9:36 PM, Blogger Troy Worman said…

    Wow! Great feedback all! And thanks for chiming in.

  • At 12:32 AM, Blogger Trevor Gay said…

    When I think about synergy I think about how a top conductor ensures beatiful music from the orchestra; how a top soccer coach gets his 11 players on the field act in harmony with flowing soccer to achieve a winning mentality; Torville and Dean in their heyday as world ice dancing champions. Synergy in entertainment and sporting activities can be reproduced in the world of business. The best teams I have ever seen or worked in or played in have an understanding of respective roles of each team member. All team members are valued – and most important - it feels like a great place to be.

  • At 6:32 PM, Blogger Phil Gerbyshak said…

    Synergy doesn't happen overnight, it's really a process, and an additive, not multiplicative one, at least not at first. 1 plus 1 equals 2, then 3, and eventually, with time and more folks i the mix, finally ends up multiplying to getting to the point that Collins talks about in Good to Great as the flywheel effect. The velocity can be sped up by authentic sharing and open communication, as we've seen on the Synergy blog, and many other blogs in the blogosphere.

    I echo the "team work makes the dream work" quote, and find that when we all jump into the pool together, with the same stake in the game (albeit often with different desired outcomes), we can make a tidal wave of difference in each others' lives.

  • At 5:18 AM, Blogger Troy Worman said…

    Teamwork makes dreams work! I love it! Bring more of that.


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