the opposite of synergy

individual -v- group

photo credit: Sean MacEntee

What happens when the sum of the parts is not greater than the parts added together?  What does it look like when all the parts are amazing and the collection of those parts is just OK?  What is that called?  Some say antergy, while others say obsygy.  One person suggested “synergy” in quotations along with eye rolling.  The Miami Heat?

In either of these situations, egos, personal ambition, what matters to each individual, is placed over what’s best for the team, thereby forfeiting synergy.  Sometimes I wonder about stacking the deck to achieve all the exact right pieces, only to give up everyone working together to make something better than any of us could alone.

I saw 2 amazing shows this weekend:  David Crowder Band and U2.  While on the surface, both groups seem to have everything working for them, without need for synergy.  I would argue that in both cases, a great deal of humility is involved to create such amazing experiences for the people that come to hear them.

Bono trusting Willie Williams to create amazing lighting.  Larry Mullen Jr. trusting the show’s producer that getting out from behind the drum set and playing a djembe (or whatever that was) would be good for the arc of the show.  David Crowder trusting his drummer to lay down the perfect groove.  David Crowder’s bass player trusting David that a rock opera in the middle of a worship set is the right answer.

Each one of these experiences was loaded with opportunities for people to be divas or to have things their way to the detriment of the whole.  There were also chances for people to take a back seat to someone else’s creativity; chances for individuals to give up what might be best for them, for the sake of the overall effect; for everyone to place their collective visions into the middle of the table to be used the most effectively.

All this takes gobs of trust and guts to let go of your idea, your creativity, your vision, for the sake of synergy, not “synergy”.

Is your idea the most important?  Are you waiting for someone else to let go of their creativity before you relinquish yours?  Help foster working together by letting go and embracing the collection of ideas for the sake of the whole.