One of the deepest desires of any normal human being is to be harmonized, synchronized and unified with others: as teammate, brother, sister, husband, wife, father, mother, neighbor, or friend. It is this common unity that underpins marriage, family, teamwork, community, alliances, nations, and the world of humankind. Yet it remains our most thwarted and elusive
Where there is Neither Vision Nor Trust,
Everything Defaults to Politics.
-- Robert Porter Lynch
The “Quest for Synergy” is, at the same time, mankind’s highest aspiration, loftiest ideal, and most soulful yearning. “Synergy” is the elusive but alluring song of all teams and alliances. Its archetypal attraction is bound in its possibility of creating something more the sum of its parts. Synergy captivates all, escapes most, briefly visits some, and for the blessed few, bestows enormous wealth and success. This is the aim of the Synergistic Leader.
What then is the magic of synergy? Or is magic at all? The quest of every team or leader is to find this holy grail -- the formula or architecture that will manifest this gallant goddess with singular regularity; to unveil synergy’s secrets like Edison’s applications of the power of electricity or the Wright brothers manifesting man’s ability to fly.
To Reach the Heights of Synergy,
One must Traverse the Path of Trust.
-- Robert Porter Lynch
The Illusion -- What’s Missing?
Not understanding the essential nature of synergy results in comments like these:
- “We know how to create alliances, but don’t know how to manage them!” reflected one American top executive, who lamented the lack of success in achieving his alliance’s primary goals.
- “Government needs cooperation and coordination if we are to be efficient. However, we never seem to get alignment between the Federal, Provincial, and Municipal governments. Sometimes we get in bitter entanglements. It doesn’t look very good when the press gets hold of it,” was the complaint of a deputy minister in a Canadian province.
- “Our internal teamwork is terrible. We can’t get any cross-functional group to work. People seem to build internal walls between our departments,” groused a senior executive who watched his company polarize in the face of increasing competition and customer demands.
- “It looked great on paper, but it was a terrible fit in reality. Our cultures clashed on every issue from decision making processes to rewarding our sales force;” stated a dejected alliance manager in the pharmaceutical industry.
- “During negotiations, the deal makers poisoned the well, and we haven’t yet recovered. We had to undo all the damage caused by the adversary legal jargon;” was the battle-weary response of the president of a multi-billion dollar international joint venture.
- “Alliances are an unnatural act for us. They are extremely difficult to manage; we’d prefer to do acquisitions; that way we can control them, ” complained a senior vice president of a large German chemical manufacturer. Later, he noted that 30% of his revenues and nearly 50% of his division’s profits came from alliances, but “ we spend only 5% of our management time on them.” For some inexplicable reason he failed to allocate management resources to the highest profit generator in his business.
- “Our acquisitions are largely a failure. We’ve bought very successful companies, but soon afterward the best of all the newly acquired people drift off into other jobs. Then the real problems begin…customers are lost, profits decline, innovation wanes….” was the sad comment of a chief financial officer.
In today’s interrelated world, organizational relationships have become complex and often confusing. Fundamentally, executives, managers, and civil servants who’ve been managing in traditional hierarchical command and control companies are befuddled when given an assignment that requires them to develop relationships outside their span of control. The synergy they seek from the relationship remains elusive; cultural differences become insurmountable obstacles; project management turns into problem management; and the bureaucracies of the two parent organizations can become a quagmire of politics.