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Synergy – an undervalued idea

Synergy is not a word I like but do we have a better word for describing productive interaction between people? Alex from alwaysnewmistakes writes on how essential synergy is to doing well. Yeah. What a great post contrasting Venice in the time of Vivaldi with Silicon Valley of today. True, true, true.

And Alex makes the further point that it is not enough to be close to abundance. One must take part. My favorite author David Whyte puts it like this:

“I want to know if you are prepared to live in the world with its harsh need to change you.”

Some months ago, I also picked some criteria for the conditions for synergy from an academic paper by David A Lane (I’ve lost the url, unfortunately.)

a. We must have a reason to interact (e.g., you make cheese and I like to eat cheese)

b. Our roles must be complementary (e.g, you sell and I buy)

c. We must interact often enough for a system to emerge (e.g., I must buy from you to keep you in business and you must have cheese to sell to me)

d. We must have permission to find solutions and opportunities to act.

David A Lane talks in terms of worrying less about the outcome and more about the quality of the interaction.  Indeed, I can go to my local deli and if they don’t have what I want, trust to them to produce something that meets my needs.   I once lived in a country where there was a flour shortage.  When the local bakery opened at 7am, I would go in and ask what is for breakfast? And eat what ever they produced!  Generative:  they were in the bakery business and I was hungry.   We could work out the rest imaginatively!   That is synergistic whereas going into a well stocked supermarket, isn’t really.

Synergy – I think it is an essential idea!

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3 Comments

  1. I’ve never liked the word synergy either but I do like how you have framed it here. Getting people together is one of the key challenges in todays society. However, I think that Gen Y might just be getting it right with their apparent obsession with social networking. Many of us old folks think they do it to avoid interaction but when you look at the facts they actually use it to create more……

  2. Thanks Scott. Delighted to find someone who thinks along the same lines.

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