“The essence of synergy is to value differences – to respect them, to build on strengths, to compensate for weaknesses.” – Stephen R. Covey
Getting along with others can be difficult to say the least. Unless the chords that unite the group are stronger than the forces that would pull it apart, then the circle may come undone. Assuming the common purpose of a group is worth the effort & struggle, how can we keep working together successfully? According to Stephen R. Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, one way to do this is to synergize.
Synergy has to do with creative cooperation, welcoming difference, and being open to alternative approaches. It allows for creative energy to be used for constructive ends. As a concept it has to do with the notion that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Careful not to confuse it with the way it is used in business, as in a means to maximize profit. For Covey it is a habit, an acquired skill, which is to be cultivated over time.
A really good stage play may help to demonstrate what it means to synergize. From the actors to the stage manager to the director, when everyone does their part and gives their best, an extraordinary thing happens, a dynamic story unfolds. People are inspired in a way not possible from within the confines of routine. A certain kind of magic imbues the imagination, and souls are transported into another world.
Another example of synergy may be found in how a couple of people address a conflict. For instance an office worker may enjoy listening to classical music on his mp3 player while at work, whereas his supervisor is annoyed by it because she has to leave her desk and walk over to him in order to get his attention. She could pull rank on him and force him to stop, but instead she opts for a third alternative. They both talk about their needs and then brain storm for solutions to the problem. Because their level of trust and respect for one another is high, they easily locate a remedy. He agrees to keep only one speaker in his ear and leave the other free to hear her.
There is no absolute way to synergize. Each situation is unique. What remains consistent is a willingness to respond anew, to be adaptable & flexible, and to be accepting of differences. The very opposite of this spirit is rigidity and stagnation. Nothing new grows in a mind that is closed off to the opinions of others. Just as trees in a forest support one another through their roots below, we need to synergize with others to preserve unity and make our ideas grow.