Synergy in organizations

The meaning of Synergy

The term is derived from the Greek Synergia, which means working together.

The term can refer to collaborating parties that remain independent, to companies that unite their forces through a merger, acquisition or joint venture or within and between departments/teams.

There is synergy when the sum (i.e. the result) of collaborating parties is greater than the sum of everyone’s, individual, contribution.

One and one is three

Synergy is the principle of 1 + 1 = 3. Two actions or instruments together have more effect than using them individually.

So, in addition to the collaboration between companies or business units, synergy can also relate to various activities or processes within the organization. The activities involved can be equivalent or supportive.

The term synergism also exists.

Where synergy mainly refers to the positive effect of cooperation, synergism refers to all consequences of a cooperation, which can also be negative.

The adjective of synergy is synergistic.

Synergy is used for a situation where the effect of a collaboration is greater than any of the collaborating parties, teams, or departments could achieve individually. Synergy is therefore essential to take your organization to a higher level.

People are not the means, they are the end. They make the difference. Creativity, commitment and flexibility are human qualities. It is also the characteristics that create distinctiveness. This requires psychological safety, clear goals, inspiration, an invitation, a clear role, visible contribution and feedback.

If an organization/enterprise/company wants to perform well with customers and employees, internal collaboration is the key to success. But what are the secrets to creating synergy in your organization?

An important step in customer orientation towards external parties is the customer orientation of the internal organization. A well-functioning internal service will immediately improve the performance of your organization. The quality of the services that the departments provide to each other is usually determined by making ‘hard’ agreements. These are service-level agreements and other performance standards that are fairly easy to measure.

However, research shows, that satisfaction within the internal collaboration mainly depends on the ‘soft’ skills of the service providers.

The secret of synergy in an organization therefore lies in the way in which employees do the work, the ‘how’. Solving problems, the way of communicating and thinking along with the (internal) customer.

Just a good product or service is absolutely no guarantee of success. 

In practice, the most successful organizations focus on the synergy between their internal departments. The result is that internal services are more effective and efficient.

The organizational objectives are achieved because employees experience that they have room to organize their work in the right way and make work for each other more fun and easier. 

The great thing is that the above points ultimately benefit the organization financially, while the dominant thought is that streamlining the internal organization costs money.

Organizations that have things in order internally often stand head and shoulders above the competition. These are not so much organizations where the processes are optimally arranged, but foremost are those where the employees can make the difference.

In addition to paying attention to the internal processes, it therefore appears worthwhile to give employees space and responsibility in particular, thus benefiting from synergy within your organization. The basic principle is that the whole creates more value than two separate departments or business units.

It’s an investment

As already mentioned, many companies see investing in internal communication as a burden that yields little and, above all, costs a lot of money. Just the opposite is true. Organizations and companies that do well internally are often number 1 and leave the competition far behind. 

These are not necessarily companies where the process runs smoothly or the product is so special. It is precisely the organizations where the employees can make the difference. It is therefore worth paying attention to internal communication and collaboration between employees and departments. It is also very important to make responsible and give space to employees.

How do you apply synergy?

For smooth internal cooperation, it is important to regularly ask the internal customer/departments for feedback about agreements made and to also reflect on the people who provide the services to each other or to collaborating departments. Is everything running smoothly and are the tasks performed or the services received, as they should be? Taking a look at the entire process also helps to identify bottlenecks and improve them. You make the synergy in a company structural if you conduct evaluation sessions at least a few times a year and assess the performance.

Tips regarding synergy

  Think of someone who sees things differently than you do. Try to then look at the third way with him/her by applying ‘win-win’ thinking and understanding him/her first, without first focusing on being understood.

  Make a list of people who annoy you. Do they differ with you in understanding? Can you change this difference if you change the way you communicate or can you try to better understand or be more appreciative of the other person’s point of view?

  If you disagree with someone, try focusing on the other person’s best interests. What can you do to help the other person? To what extent can you influence that?

Try to foremost enjoy the collaboration you have with your, different thinking, colleagues, keep an open mind and then focus on the common ground you all stand on and the things that make you even stronger.