Nuts and bolts

Wikipedia says "A synergy is where different entities cooperate advantageously for a final outcome. If used in a business application it means that teamwork will produce an overall better result than if each person was working toward the same goal individually."

For example if I am a nut (and many would argue that case) and you are a bolt, we can join forces to fasten parts together and make something useful to us both. Otherwise we are just a collection of home, this would be your junk drawer.

I have a friend that is in a totally unrelated business but we really enjoy each other's company. More and more we find ourselves looking for ways to be useful to each other. This is a major shift since like most business people I know, we are protective and suspicious of those wanting to know too much about what and how we go about running our business. But this relationship has spawned a lot of creativity and willingness to be revealing about what we do well and not so well. We have the makings of synergy.

Developing relationships like this is really what teamwork or "synergy" is all about. If you can find this for yourself, great. If you can piece together some of these synergies in your company, Katie bar the door. Here are a few suggestions on how you can find hidden synergies and lead your team to do the same.

Recognize that not

everything is broken.

I have a client that really doesn't have anything wrong with their team, but just wants better understanding of roles, responsibilities and values. Being of the problem-solving gender this stumped me at first. But my job is to be useful to them, so in the absence of fixing problems, we build synergy. Try putting your efficient workers in an areas with less efficient workers from another, big-picture thinkers with tactical managers or for the really brave at heart sales with operations. This is the "fresh set of eyes" approach and can lead to real innovations and a better understanding of the challenges individuals face day to day.


There are probably a hundred or more brainstorming techniques but the objective is the same, and it is a great way to get team involvement, buy-in, creativity and critical thinking all in the same room at the same time. I suggest the no-idea-is-a-bad-idea approach in all circumstances because the first goal is participation in the process. Raise the level of energy in the room, pull the words out of the mouths of the meek and celebrate the fact that you can bring a team together to hear each other think out loud.

Know your champions

Everyone is a champion for some cause or purpose, big or small. My wife's, for example, is recycling. Even though she is terrible at it, I know better than to argue the merits of it with her. Inside her position is a passion and some knowledge that drives change in me and my staff. You probably have individuals like this in your company right now but don't know what it is they are a champion for. If you take the time to know what they embrace as individuals, there may be opportunities for them to exhibit leadership for your team, share their passions, make contributions and change behaviors that they will do willingly and with appreciation for the opportunity. Personally, I have quite a lot of the most organized trash in town as a result of just such a person.

Be enthusiastic

I know, I know. This is like the little black dress that's good for every occasion, but I am still mentioning it. Enthusiasm is the mother of inspiration, and with that energy starts to flow in a contagious way that can infuse an individual as well as a group. You want all parties charged up as often as possible so when some began to wane others can carry on the work and keep spirits high.

Row, row, row your boat

Rowing a boat is a great metaphor for teamwork and synergy. Everyone rowing together in the same direction with purpose makes for a fast, stable boat. The coxswain (also known as the fearless leader) calls out the cadence, handles the rudder and motivates individual performance. Conversely, rowing in opposite directions spins the boat in circles and can lead to mutiny and the death of the coxswain. Knowing you have to row hard is important but knowing when and where are equally important elements. Keeping your teammates informed about the overall purpose, calling out the cadence and steering the rudder creates synergy.

Otherwise you're just a bunch of guys sittin' in a boat.

Steve Conine is owner of Talent Framework and the Reno office of AccuStaff. Contact him at 322-5004 or


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