What is synergy? Definition, types, examples

Science 2023

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What is synergy? Definition, types, examples
What is synergy? Definition, types, examples

Synergy is the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts. The term "synergy" comes from the Attic Greek word συνεργία (synergia), which means "to work together".

Team Synergy


In the natural world, synergistic phenomena are ubiquitous, ranging from physics (for example, various combinations of quarks that produce protons and neutrons) to chemistry (a popular example is water, the combination of hydrogen and oxygen), cooperative interactions between genes in genomes, division of labor in bacterial colonies. There are also various kinds of synergies produced by socially organized groups, from bee colonies to wolf packs and human societies.

Synergy of the heart

Human example

Even the tools and technologies that are widespread in the natural world are important sources of synergies. The means that allowed early hominids to becomesystematic big game hunters are the ancestral human example of synergy.

Group management

When discussing this phenomenon in the context of organizational behavior, it is worth starting from the opinion that a cohesive group is more than the sum of its parts, and synergy is the ability of a group to surpass even the best of its members. These findings come from research done by Jay Hall on a number of laboratory group ranking and prediction problems. He found that effective groups actively look for points where they disagree and, as a result, encourage conflict between participants in the early stages of the discussion. Here, the expression works as precisely as possible: "Truth is born in a dispute."

On the contrary, ineffective groups feel the need to quickly develop a common view, use simple decision-making techniques such as averaging and focusing on completing the task, rather than finding solutions they could agree on.

Meaning of groups

In a technical context, their meaning is the construction or combination of different elements working together to achieve results that cannot be obtained by any of these elements. What is synergy? This is what holds these very elements together.

Team Synergy

Items or parts can include people, hardware, software, tools, policies, documents: whatever is required to produce results at the system level. The value that characterizes it as a whole is createdthrough relationships between parts of the system. In essence, a system is a set of interrelated components working together with a common goal: the satisfaction of a certain identified need. This is a partial answer to the question, what is synergy.

In business

When used in business processes, synergy means that teamwork will give an overall better result than if each person in the group worked towards the same goal individually. However, the concept of group cohesion must be considered in order to understand what synergy is in the context of group interaction. Group cohesion is that property that is derived from the number and strength of mutual positive relationships among group members. As the group becomes more cohesive, it functions in different ways. First, interaction and communication between members is increasing. Common goals, interests and small size contribute to this. In addition, the satisfaction of the members of the group increases as it provides its members with friendship and support, as well as protection against external threats.

Synergy of two violinists

Negative aspects

There are negative aspects of cohesion that affect decision making and therefore the effectiveness of the group as a whole. There are two problems. The risk shift phenomenon is the group's tendency to make decisions that are more risky than those the group would individually recommend. Polarization is when individuals in a groupstart with a moderate stance on a common value issue, and after discussion, take a looser stance.


The second, potentially negative, consequence of group cohesion is groupthink. Usually, people who are interested in what synergy is do not realize its negative aspects. Groupthink is a way of thinking about a situation that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive group, where members' desire for unanimity sometimes drowns out their motivation to realistically evaluate alternative courses of action. In examining the events of several American political disasters, such as the failure to foresee the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (1941) and the fiasco of the Bay of Pigs Invasion (1961), Irving Janis argued that they were caused by the cohesion of committees that ended up adopting the wrong solutions.

Synergy in training

That decisions made by committees lead to failure in a simple system, points out Dr. Chris Elliot. His case study de alt with the so-called "IEEE-488 category", an international standard established by the leading US standardization body. Its introduction at one time led to the failure of small automation systems using the IEEE-488 standard (which encoded the HP-IB communication standard). The external devices used for communication were made by two different companies using different standards, and their incompatibility resulted in financial losses. This is an example of eternal synergy andantagonism of large groups in the form of bureaucratic institutions.

Practical implementation

The idea of ​​a systems approach is endorsed by the Executive Director of He alth and Safety of the United Kingdom. The successful implementation of he alth and safety measures depends on analyzing the causes of incidents and accidents and drawing the right lessons from them. The idea is that all events (not just those that cause injury) represent failures in control and provide an opportunity for learning and improvement for both individuals and groups. Such "drug" synergism is now used all over the world and in almost all areas of life.

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