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March 19, 2012 / mike54martin

Synergy: It Keeps on Giving

I have always been fascinated by the idea of synergy: that two or more things could work together to produce a result that is more and different from the result of the two things operating independently. It seemed to me to be a kind of human alchemy where two people or personalities could be melded to create a superhuman effort.

But as usual it’s much more pedestrian than that. Especially when it comes to two or more people working in a team. That doesn’t mean that remarkable results are not possible as a result of synergy, it just means that it is more easily explainable than the mystery I have described. The reason that synergy works is that it allows people to bring forward their very best qualities, skills or strengths. When that happens simultaneously with others it should not be surprising when the team effort is far more brilliant than just the sum of its parts.

Synergy also works in a team setting because there is a special sort of energy that is created out of the enthusiasm of working towards a common objective or goal. Mountain climbers feel this energy from the rest of the team as they scale the peak and it gives them an extra boost to make it to the top. There is also special strength that the team can draw from having an intense focus on one problem or one solution. And it almost always leads to success.

Of course this success only comes when a team is working well together, is communicating with each and their synergy is being harnessed and directed towards that common purpose. That’s where a good manager comes in. A good manager ensures that the team knows its purpose, has means to communicate well and builds on strengths not weaknesses. He or she encourages individual lights to shine within a clearly established framework and does not let any one ego get so big it disrupts the positive flow of synergy.

If that sounds like the basic principles of success for any team you have just passed the pop quiz. The difference with having a special focus on creating synergy within the team is that you are not just completing a project or trying to resolve a particular problem. You are actually creating something completely new, a real and tangible product that you can use over and over again.

Synergy is addictive. It’s what keeps some sports teams together for multiple championships far longer than individual awards or achievements. It’s because people who feel the power of synergy never want to go back to just being ordinary. They want the extra power that synergy brings. They can have it and so can you.

Mike Martin is a freelance writer and workplace wellness consultant.

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