Secrets of Synergy
Not every complex organizational relationship experiences these impasses.
- “I am amazed how well our two companies are working together. We are actually ahead of schedule, and have had relatively few difficulties;” was the delighted comment from the alliance manager of a strategic sourcing venture consisting of a European food service company and an American partner.
- “After only 6 weeks of working together, it’s hard to tell the difference between the employees of their company and ours;” explained the director of an international mining company, commenting on his joint venture with an electronics firm.
- “I’ve forged alliances internally with our different departments and locations, with our work force, with our suppliers, and with our best customers. It’s enabled us to put new programs into place rapidly. Our sales and profits have increased over 150%,” was the proud statement of a Canadian manufacturer
These collaborative managers achieved success because they insisted that their joint teams spend ample time understanding the unique aspects of strategic relationships, building cross-cultural teamwork, and establishing processes and skills to access and embrace the unique value of their joint vision and their partner’s unique strength.
Experience has proven that there are invaluable beliefs and skills which are often overlooked that enable collaborative managers to produce high performance results: skills at managing differences, breakthroughs, speed, and transformation.
The Value of Differences
The fundamental reason why teams or alliances are formed is to access a capability within other people, groups, or organizations, thus finding the magical synergy, the 1+1=3. However, this means capturing the value of differences.
Lying within these inherent differences is the promise of the new team to create bold new futures, or conversely, to implode upon itself as differences turn destructive. Unfortunately, for all-too-many organizations, differences become corrosive, actions become angry, self-protection arises from distrust, and polarization rigidifies points of view. Some people turn to lawyers to generate reams of legal documents to create surrogate contractual trust. Others stand their ground more firmly, often with dire consequences – liberals versus conservatives, Protestants versus Catholics, Muslims versus Jews, capitalism versus communism, blacks versus whites – and the list goes on. Seemingly, the difficulty in managing differences is a relationship problem has gone on since the beginning of recorded time. The Bible is filled with these conflicts, Chinese history records similar conflicts, and even the wisdom of Socrates and Plato did not diminish the carnage.
Traditional approaches to managing cultural differences have focused on becoming sensitive to differences, cross-cultural training, understanding linguistic nuances, and acculturation. While these methods have their worth, a number of very essential approaches are often overlooked that distinguish successful organizational relationships (each element will be explored in detail in the following pages):
- Power of Shared Vision
- Synergy of Compatible Differences
- Commitment to Mutual Benefit
- Trust Building & Integrity
- Commitments & Camaraderie
- Sharing Expands Possibilities
- Conflict Transcendence
- Turning Breakdowns into Breakthroughs
- Transformational Flexibility