Synergize! But, what is Synergy? Habit 6

Synergize! But, what is Synergy? Habit 6

Synergy, an influential concept adopted in many fields, has radically impacted how we view productivity, creativity, and teamwork. The term has been eloquently elucidated in Stephen Covey’s masterpiece, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People’. This article provides an in-depth analysis of the concept of synergy from Covey’s perspective, its role in success, and how to achieve, sustain, and enhance it.

What is Synergy?

Synergy is the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In the context of Covey’s book, it represents the sixth habit, wherein cooperative interaction among individuals or groups leads to a combined effect more significant than the simple sum of their efforts. Covey describes synergy as the essence of effective teamwork and collaboration. It emphasizes that the best solutions come from cooperation and understanding that the input of many can significantly surpass individual contributions.

Delving into Habit 6

For Covey, synergy isn’t just about achieving common goals; it’s about transforming when people with different perspectives and ideas come together. This approach to synergizing requires valuing and acknowledging the strengths of others while utilizing those differences for creative solutions.

The Role of Synergy in Success

According to Covey, synergy plays a vital role in achieving success. It’s the pathway to increased productivity, creativity, and effectiveness. By understanding and implementing synergy, teams, and individuals can achieve outcomes beyond what they could do individually.

Achieving Synergy: Techniques and Strategies

To achieve synergy, Covey suggests a principle-centered approach focused on proactive collaboration. It involves active listening, open-mindedness, and the courage to embrace different perspectives, collectively leading to creative cooperation.

Case Study: Acme Software

Acme Software, a multinational tech company, struggled with communication and collaboration issues. The teams operated in silos, competing instead of working together towards a common goal. Project delays and failed initiatives were frequent, and employee morale was low.

The company’s leadership implemented Stephen Covey’s principles to turn things around, focusing mainly on the sixth habit: Synergize.

  1. Encouraging Open Communication: The company instituted regular town-hall meetings, allowing employees to voice their thoughts and concerns. They also created an open-door policy where employees could approach the management with ideas or issues. This openness led to the identification of several underlying problems causing project delays.
  2. Valuing Diversity: The company tried to celebrate diversity in its teams. They organized workshops and team-building exercises that emphasized the importance of different perspectives. This appreciation of diversity led to more innovative solutions.
  3. Fostering Trust and Cooperation: Transparency became a priority. Leaders started sharing more about the company’s direction and goals. This transparency fostered a sense of trust and cooperation among employees, reducing rivalry and promoting collaboration.
  4. Adopting a Learning Attitude: The company launched a learning and development program, encouraging employees to learn new skills and gain knowledge in different areas. This program fostered an attitude of continuous learning and development.
  5. Valuing the Collective Over the Individual: Acme started recognizing team efforts and individual contributions. They celebrated team successes and rewarded teams for their collaborative efforts. This shift in focus helped create a sense of shared ownership and accountability.
  6. Practicing Active Listening: Leaders were trained to become better listeners. They were taught to give their full attention during conversations and validate their understanding by summarizing key points. This active listening improved understanding and collaboration.
  7. Leveraging Complementary Skills: The company started organizing teams based on complementary skills. This strategy led to more effective teams utilizing each member’s strengths and covering for their weaknesses.
  8. Promoting Collaboration: A shift was made from competitive to collaborative goals. Teams were given targets that required collaboration to achieve. This strategy promoted a culture of collaboration and shared success.
  9. Managing Conflicts Constructively: The company introduced conflict resolution training. Teams learned to see conflicts as opportunities for growth, leading to improved relationships and better teamwork.
  10. Modeling the Behavior: The leaders at Acme Software led by example, showing their teams how to synergize. Their behavior set the tone for the rest of the company and inspired employees to follow suit.

The impact of these changes was significant. Projects were completed on time, the quality of work improved, employee morale increased, and the company started to innovate much faster. The case of Acme Software demonstrates the power of synergy and how it can transform a struggling company into a successful and innovative one.

Comparing Synergy and Individual Effort

While individual effort is crucial, Covey highlights that combined efforts through synergy can lead to superior results. It enhances productivity and fosters a sense of shared accomplishment and community.

Understanding and Overcoming Barrier

Barriers to synergy include narrow-mindedness, egoism, and poor communication. Covey recommends adopting a win-win mindset, embracing diversity, and improving interpersonal communication to overcome these.

The Importance of Communication in Fostering Synergy

Covey emphasizes that synergy cannot exist without effective communication. Open, honest, and respectful conversation allows the sharing of ideas, which ultimately leads to mutual understanding and the creation of innovative solutions.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Synergy

The effectiveness of synergy can be evaluated through improved team performance, innovative solutions, and increased satisfaction among team members. The ability to solve complex problems together is also a clear indicator of successful synergy.

Sustaining and Enhancing Synergy

Maintaining and enhancing synergy requires continual effort. Covey suggests that regular team building, effective conflict resolution, and an ongoing commitment to the principles of synergy can help maintain this powerful collaborative force. Consistent reinforcement of values like respect, trust, and mutual understanding also serve as essential catalysts in enhancing synergy.

Synergy as the Catalyst for Innovation and Productivity

In Covey’s teachings, synergy acts as a catalyst for innovation and productivity. Diverse ideas and perspectives, when synergized, can lead to out-of-the-box solutions and significant productivity gains. The driving force enables us to do more effectively and efficiently with less.

Synergize in Your Daily Life

To apply the concept of synergy in your daily life, it is essential to recognize the value of different perspectives and to engage with them genuinely. Encourage cooperative interaction, prioritize open and honest communication, and foster an environment where diversity is celebrated. Doing so can synergize our efforts to create a more significant collective impact.


Synergy, as encapsulated in Stephen Covey’s ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People’, is a transformative force that has the potential to elevate our individual and collective productivity. It provides a roadmap to nurturing an environment where the collaboration of diverse minds can create solutions that exceed our capacities. A synergy-focused approach encourages us to embrace differences, enhance communication, and catalyze innovation. To synergize is not merely to collaborate; it is to create, innovate and produce results more significant than the sum of their parts. As we cultivate this habit, we enter a world of enhanced potential where success is achievable and shared.