Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Expanding my definition of "synergy"

To be honest, I don’t often go around having conversations based on Steven Covey’s “7 Habits”. It’s just not a subject that comes up all that often. However, I did find myself in such a situation last Wednesday.

I have a group of friends that gets together to play music. Sometimes we call it “band practice”, but usually it’s just an excuse to get together and play around. Usually one of us will show up with a new artist or song we’ve discovered and we’ll all spend a little time trying to figure out how it goes.

Paul Lewis Siddoway
I don’t think you have to be musically inclined to realize that five guys all doing their own thing all at once can be … overwhelming, to put it nicely. However, we’ve been doing this long enough that it doesn’t take long for us to start putting the pieces together and have it come out sounding pretty good.

I always thought that was synergy. I always defined synergy as when two or more things come together and something happens that the individual parts couldn’t make happen on their own.

Like when you listen to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” album while watching “The Wizard of Oz”.

But I found myself last Wednesday expanding my definition of synergy.

My boss explained it to me using this purely hypothetical conversation:

Me: I want a raise.

My boss: I don’t have the money to give you a raise.

At this point, I (in the real conversation) jokingly suggested that the next step is usually some sort of compromise where I do more work, he gets the credit, and I get to take a soda out of his mini-fridge.

Little did I know I had used a dirty word.

It’s like that time Malfoy called Hermione a “Mud-Blood” and Harry had no idea what was going on. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, there are these books by this British lady about a teenage wizard you should read.

Apparently in the land of the “7 Habits” the word “compromise” is a no-no. When you  “compromise” you are settling for less than what you want, which is what Mr. Covey calls a lose-lose situation.

According to the natural properties of synergy, the correct solution is for both my boss and I to earn the same amount of money as we already do, get the same amount of credit as we already do and do the same amount of work that we already do. It’s just that now, we get to do it in Maui.

That way, we both get something even better that we didn’t realize we wanted in the first place. Like discovering my “band” can play at restaurants and get free dinner.

Maybe I’m still way off, but I like the idea of what synergy can do for me.

Paul Lewis Siddoway

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