Akintola Benson Oke
Indeed, synergy holds the key to maximum and ultimate performance. Stephen Covey, the bestselling author and management consultant said, “Synergy is what happens when one plus one equals ten or a hundred or even a thousand! It is the profound result when two or more respectful human beings determine to go beyond their preconceived ideas to meet a great challenge.” Expatiating on the value of Synergy, Stephen Covey said, “synergy is better than my way or your way. It is our way.”
There are some who underestimate the value and importance of synergy and team work. Our amiable and visionary Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is not one of such. His prioritization of trainings and human capital development in the Lagos State Civil Service demonstrates his full realization that all minds in the Lagos State Civil Service needs to be trained and re-trained so that, working together, the output of the Lagos State Civil Service will be exponentially increased.
Listen to this transformational testimony of a late convert to the power of synergy and teamwork: “I was never a big fan of teamwork. Being a naturally-inclined leader, I always felt that I could do things best on my own, and dismissed collaboration as a sign of weakness.” In his book: “Success Intelligence,” Robert Holden refers to this compulsive urge for self-sufficiency as the ‘By Myself Syndrome.’ According to Holden, “people who suffer from ‘By Myself Syndrome’ are lousy at asking for help. They are blind to opportunities for support. They are blocked by their inability to get past themselves. Irreverently refusing to embrace the truth behind this concept, I skipped the entire chapter in the book and rendered it irrelevant to me or my success. It wasn’t until a year and countless of burnouts later, that I finally decided to give up my ego and give in to teamwork. Having thrown myself into the heavily team-based M.Sc Management course at Imperial, I had the perfect chance to re-visit my rigid viewpoints. Although the transition from Me to Us was challenging at first, I was eventually awakened to the benefits of working in a team, and came to see teamwork as one of the most important aspects to success.”
That was the statement of George Lizos when he was a student at the Imperial Business School. Without a doubt, he was echoing the views of many thought leaders in the business world. Permit me to begin by briefly sharing the thoughts of these leaders with you. Mark Twain described synergy as the “bonus that is achieved when things work together harmoniously.” “Synergy is everywhere in nature,” another observer noted.“If you plant two plants close together, the roots commingle and improve the quality of the soil so that both plants will grow better than if they were separated. If you put two pieces of wood together, they will hold much more than the total weight held by each separately. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. One plus one equals three or more.” Drawing from his extensive wealth of hands-on knowledge, Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Hellen Keller opined that “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” And Michael Jordan posited that, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”
Of all the commentators, Carlos Ghosn made the best attempt to describe the wider benefits of synergy and team work when he stated that, “synergies are not only about cost reduction. Synergies can be access to markets, exchange of products, avoiding overlaps, and exchange of best practices.” And Babara Max Hubbard allayed the fear of those who think synergy would result in the loss of individuality. He rightly noted that, “Synergy does not mean giving up what we want. It means joining to co-create so each is able to receive ever more of what attracts us through joining rather than opposing.” Luis E. Romero is another of the foremost thinkers on this subject. He brilliantly identified the factors that make synergy work. He said, “just as the numbers of protons, neutrons, and electrons define the potential for chemical synergy, the combination of common interests, common values, and complementary talents defines the potential for team synergy.” He thereafter elucidated on these identified factors as follows:
Common interests. When people share common interests, they align their individual efforts toward the same goal. More specifically, they find personal affinities that help them work together, seek opportunities to leverage each other’s talents, and measure the results of their collective efforts with respect to their common goal. Common values. When people share common values, they can forge strong, long-lasting alliances. More specifically, I have found that people who share the values of humility, honesty, trust, and discipline achieve the highest synergies.
Humility is the capacity to acknowledge one’s own truth. This allows every team member to have a clear image of the self and address all personal growth and professional development needs in a timely fashion. Honesty is the capacity to share one’s own truth with others. This allows team members to know each other more closely, develop trust, help each other, and carry out team improvement initiatives with further reach. Trust is the ability to focus on one’s task while letting others focus on theirs, thus optimizing efforts. Equally, trust also allows for team members to check up on each other to make sure all tasks remain aligned with the common goal. Likewise, trust leads naturally to loyalty and solidarity. Discipline is the ability to continue to work toward a goal regardless of the circumstances. Discipline requires commitment, courage, resilience, and drive.
Complementary talents. When people have complementary talents, they can overcome adversity, stay focused, and achieve success more efficiently. In my professional opinion, every team’s ideal portfolio of talents is masterfully summarized in Dr. Ichak Adizes’s famous PAEI model. PAEI stands for Producer, Administrator, Entrepreneur, and Integrator. Not one person will have all four talents. Even the so-called Renaissance men or women, known for being multi-talented, will hardly be able to develop and apply all talents successfully within a team. Everyone needs help and teamwork is based on team members helping each other. Below, each talent in detail:
Producers focus on the end result and make sure the final product or service meets all customer or client expectations. Producers are ultimately responsible for quality facing the market so they will make sure all other team members understand the importance thereof.
Administrators focus on how the tasks are completed and make sure all other team members are in compliance with current policies, procedures, mandates, and guidelines. They are ultimately responsible for the overall sustainability, effectiveness, and efficiency of the organizational system. Entrepreneurs focus on envisioning and creating the future. They are inspired and inspiring. They often come up with new ideas about products, services, and ways to do everyday task. They are essentially behind every major innovation and are ultimately responsible for helping organizations stay current, move forward, and introduce market- disruptive innovations.
Integrators focus on bringing people together and helping build personal and functional bridges among all team members. They are ultimately responsible for creating an organizational culture based on the vision and values shared by all team members.
Dr. Oke is the Commissioner, Lagos State Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions.