7 Habits: Habit 6 Synergize

The Principle of Creative Cooperation

In simple terms, synergize refers to 2 or more parts working together to produce a far greater results than the individual components would have produced combined – “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. Also commonly known in the form of an equation where 1+1 is more than 2.

The essence of synergize:

  1. To value and respect differences
  2. To build strengths
  3. To complement weakness

The first 3 habits enables us to be an effective individual, shaping a good attitude, belief and mental model. Habit 4 sets our motive to strive for mutual benefits and habit 5 teach us the essential communication skills to improve our connection with people. All the previous 5 habits leads us to this habit – Creating good teamwork. Now its time to work with others.

Synergistic Environment

Whenever I come across the word synergy, I would think of 3M Innovations. Well known for its innovative culture and a top 50 company to for in the world.  I Had the privilege to attend a small workshop there. What really links synergy to 3M for me is their concept of idea generation.

2 ideas are never just 2 ideas

Anyone can leverage on anyone’s idea. 2 seemingly unrelated products could actually have derived from the other. 3M with its 45 technology platforms, any staff with a spark of brilliance, can approach any 3M expertise regarding their idea. The research technologies and along with the communication infrastructures across the world forms the backbone of its culture.

This made me realized that for any ongoing activity (culture), an underlying structure or supporting system is extremely important. Without it, a culture is hardly sustainable. Likewise, no matter how good something is, if a person does not have the will or heart to persist, it will fail at some point.

People forms the culture. A culture is started and maintained/strengthened/weakened by people. And with people, there will be interactions. So lets look at what good interactions would be…

Synergistic Communication

In communication, we know that we need to strive for an open, honest and trusting relationship/connection.

Things that you disagreed might be things that you didn’t understand or overlook. And when someone points out something like this that could be in conflict with yours. Keep cool and realize that it needs certain amount of belief in his/her idea and courage to take an action against you, especially when in front of an audience.

Of course, unless if he/she has some personal vendetta against you. It would be best to approach the objection from his/her perspective. As a professional, one shall also remain objective in such situation. And that is where synergy comes in too – Settling the differences aside.

Remember that everyone has the right to voice their opinions in improving the team performance. I found this phrase in the book meaningful in these type of scenario: “If a person of your intelligence, competence and commitment, disagrees with me. Then there must be something to your disagreement that I don’t understand, and I need to understand it. You have a perspective, a frame of reference I need to look at.”

Note: The above mentioned phrase has emphasized on the word “need” to encourage you to keep in perspective to the habit of seek first to understand.

A Synergistic Culture – Good Teamwork

We have already discussed about the environment and communication skills required, so now we will move on to the people – Perception of people to be exact.

Everyone of us are unique. Even for twins, who look alike physically, may be different mentally, emotionally or psychologically. And no one is perfect all the time, everyone comes with their flaws and limitations no matter how good they are.

In the book it teaches about valuing differences. 2 persons can both be right in their own sense even when they have opposing views. And it will take humility and understanding to put the differences aside and to view from each other’s perspective, especially in an opposing opinion situation. It would have been easier to brush the other party’s idea than to work with him/her. Easier doesn’t mean better for most things in life.

When you understand each other viewpoint, you tend to have a more complete picture to work with and chances are you and your partner would be able to come out with better ideas. Also a good mutual understanding and communication would have easily prevented any misunderstanding or unrealistic expectations which would have destroy the connection.

“This is a time, which calls for a critical mass of transformational leaders who will commit to creating a synergy of energy within their circle of influence so new level of social, economic, organizational and spiritual success can be reached”
– Peter Drucker’s The Age of Transformation

Closing Pointers

  • Synergy is the effectiveness in an interdependent reality – The essence of teamwork and team building and the framework to development of unity and creativity with other people.
  • Acknowledge the fact that your own synergy is always within your own circle of influence no matter what

Recommended Reading

Previous Chapter on The Essential Communication Skill of Habit 5

So what do you think you can do to create a good supporting system for your synergy?

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