The strength of synergy derives from whole not parts. William James once said, “A chain is no stronger than its weakest link”. This saying relates to how the several aspects of synergistic approach contribute to its creation. Every chain link is important, and contributes to chain’s strength. Same goes for synergy. Each and every aspect is important, and synergy can’t form if one or more is lacking.
Synergy isn’t something that exists in theory, it is real; it’s a practicable concept, which originates from its application to businesses. You can’t discuss synergy without relating to the diversity of organizational aspects. Synergistic approach relates to every aspect of an organization – be it human or non-human. Synergy improves how the different aspects of an organization relate to each other; hence, contributes to efficiency.
There are seven known aspects of synergy in existence. Let’s take a look at each one of them.
Organizations have visions, missions, objectives and cultures, which inform their strategy. However, the level of commitment of strategy toward realizing organization’s vision varies. For example, a merger between two organizations to form synergy requires a high level of strategy commitment. Otherwise, it’d be difficult to create synergy – or a new reality. This is the “paradox of synergy”.
A Case of a Logistics Organization Delegating Independence to its Divisions
A logistics organization divided itself, giving independence to its various divisions based on its new strategy. However, there were also subdivisions, especially in the units, which the human resources VP supervised. It meant that the remuneration and training units were subordinate to different divisions.
There were problems with synergy in the human resources department, yet the strategic plan ignored them. The organization had moved the human resources department away from the headquarters. This caused difficulties with coordinating activities. Alternatively, the strategic plan could have considered implementing fusion communication pattern.
For example, every division other than the human resources could have contributed a specialist support to the steering committee. This’d have contributed to synergy between the different units of the human resources, although different divisions supervised the units.
This relates to how an organization defines boundaries, which affect roles, responsibilities, tasks, subordination or power. Even if they organization defines boundaries clearly, they must be clear. Clarity helps to avoid overlap of roles, responsibilities or power in an organization. Synergy can occur if the organization’s aspects flex their boundaries.
Start-ups, small or family-run organizations don’t usually have work processes, and boundaries are usually flexible, defined and clear. Roles, responsibilities or power are clear, but “everyone does everything”. However, as organizations grow bigger, flexible boundaries change to “blurred” boundaries, causing problems.
Thus, it becomes necessary to implement work processes or procedures, such as production and planning in manufacturing, and decision-making, remuneration, training and coordination in the headquarters. Procedures involve all departments, and often cross the structure.
If organizational structures have rigid boundaries – which they usually do – the transfer of procedures between departments would be difficult. Fusion communication can contribute to clear and flexible boundaries, which make it possible for synergy and cooperation to occur. For example, fusion communication in decision-making can occur as masterminding or brainstorming.
Organizations consider humans as resources, capital or assets. Humans are an important aspect, because they influence other aspects. How humans relate to each in an organization is of utmost importance. Humans can determine the success or failure of relationships between themselves, between different aspects, and between other aspects and themselves. For example, organizational structure may change, affecting roles, responsibilities, power or culture.
As long as an employee perceives change as something that occurs according to organizational culture, motivation, willingness to adapt to change, and cooperation would remain. However, if the employee, manager or partner fears change or experiences problems with adapting to it, motivation would decrease. It can be a lot harder to achieve synergy if motivation’s low.
A Case of two Partners Inheriting the Ownership of a Manufacturing Complex
Two partners have acquired the ownership of an industrial complex. The partners are a daughter of one co-founder and a son-in-law of another. While both managed the manufacturing plant together for a long time, there were problems. For example, the daughter was no longer able to assist her partner, because she was sick.
The other partner developed a sense of “disconnectedness”, because of no interaction, and a sense of invasion, because he felt that she had left an additional burden of management on him. For them, it was difficult to achieve synergy. This destructive form of interaction arose, because of unclear boundaries; hence, roles and responsibilities were obscure.
This aspect relates to procedures and technological adoption. Synergy and communication enable coordination between departments through technology.
A Case of an Academic Organization Implementing an ERP Software
An academic organization rolled out software to manage its entire human resources. Even after one year of implementation, the problem of unresponsive service providers persisted. The employee’s claim was the software was difficult to master, and it confused them and delayed their work. While the software was rolled out successfully, it wasn’t assimilated by employees.
A Case of an ERP Software Rollout in a Large, Multinational Organization
The issue of the extent to which employees assimilated software remained in one multinational; organization. Some divisions were used the software while others used a different program. The purpose of the software was to encourage two-way communication. As it turned out, it failed to achieve that purpose, because different software can’t communicate with each other. The organization had to spend lots of time and resources to ensure coordination and communication between the different programs. Were the organization to implement synergistic planning at first, this problem could not have happened.
This aspect relates to things such as collective bargaining, contracts, customer complaints, tort claims, etc. When there’s synergy between legal advisors, all organization’s aspects can work synergistically. Legal contracts or agreements have rigid boundaries, because they serve to protect the interests of employers and employees. Amending contracts or agreements in accordance with synergistic approach can help improve the quality of interactions.
This aspect relates to the organization’s finances, bottom line, cash flow, liquidity, assets, etc., and relates to profitability.
A Case of an Industrial Organization Adopting Profit Maximization Mind-set
A large manufacturing organization was becoming lean-based, marking a change in its strategy and structure. This new strategy required each production plant to be responsible for its own bottom line – or profitability. However, the costing authority remained centralized – it remained HQ’s function.
The organization’s service to strategic clients meant that the costing of each order for each client was critical. The industrial plants weren’t given the autonomy to cost their respective orders. The senior management also set prices.
The plant managers developed a feeling of invasion, because, while they were responsible for their plant’s profitability, they couldn’t cost their respective products. They cited managerial interference. The solution was to redefine the authority power to reduce invasion and to assimilate the language of synergy.
The strength of synergy depends on wholes not parts. Each aspect of synergy’s important in its formation, because, without one, there’d be no synergy. There’s a “link” between these aspects, and synergy can’t occur if one or more links is broken.
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