Monday, July 27, 2009

Synergy - Part III

T-shirts don't make a team. Neither do cheers, logos, posters, or the most talented individuals in a particular field. Ask the Los Angeles Lakers, the 2009 NBA Champions. After a long drought in which the best player in the game never could get back to the top, it took much more to create the conditions for success. It took SYNERGY!

Synergy as we have described it can be reduced to a simple math equation: 1+1+1>3. The whole is made greater than the sum of the parts. Leadership is the action verb (made greater) that enables this possibility.

For the Lakers (or any other team), greatness was not achieved until the sum of the parts was actually made greater. That took leadership -- from the coaching staff, from the front office, and most importantly, from the players on the court. And if you follow the sport as closely as you follow this blog (ha!), you know that the synergy that we saw in this year's Laker team (or last year's Celtics, or any other championship team in any profession) validated the formula for synergy that we have been talking about on this page:

Synergy =Common vision and goals +Big TEAM, little me +Interdependence +Accountability.

And while we described each component in the last post, here are a few final thoughts on this important leadership deliverable:

While jerseys do not a team make, leaders must be aware of the need to build a unique brand around their team of teams (they are, after all, the LAKERS!). Use cross-training and developmental assignments between organizations to foster a better understanding of new acquisitions or within subordinate units who otherwise might not have reason to interact. Build a new brand. Celebrate team accomplishments and organizational progress toward the common vision.

Synergy is only possible when everyone is involved and is forged by leaders who get 100% from every team member. Mergers and acquisitions almost universally come with baggage – suspicions and concerns generated by ignorance of the potential for the new team of teams. Barriers must be knocked down, stove pipes eliminated.

Leaders must model the behavior that values the contribution of every single team member. Identify excess capacity and determine how to make it available to those who are over tasked. Think of your organizational diversity as an opportunity. How might someone in human resources help with an engineering design? Who better than a salesperson could serve on a process design team? And how can a superstar like Kobe Bryant subordinate himself to the goals of the team while making those around him better?

Synergy is fueled by communication and cross-talk. Economies of scale, opportunities for cross-selling and cross-promotion, and a better use of shared resources will not generally identify themselves. Leaders must constantly “wire brush” the organization to bring these issues to the surface. Constant dialogue about best practices and lessons learned, coupled with teammates held accountable to one another, will drive growth across the board. The total can exceed the sum of the parts - many times over.

If 1+1+1=3 - that’s not synergy. That result was achievable in the organization’s formerly independent state. Of what value is a merger, acquisition, or organizational growth that shows no value added? Bigger is not better. Better is better.

The leader’s job is to create synergy, to add value. Make the new condition, the newly combined business unit, or the organizational team of teams better than its former, independent state. That kind of measurable growth does not occur by itself. That’s where you come in. That's what it took for the Lakers to win the championship this year. And that is why creating synergy is...Leader Business.

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