“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”


The idea behind synergy is that relationship between two or more elements that generates the outcome is more than the sum of their parts taken separately. This idea is in the essence of nature, where everything is related to everything else. Two plants planted together improve the quality of soil and grow stronger if they would be separated. If you burn two two big firewoods close together, they will last longer, then if you burn them one after another. When man and women synergize, they make a new human. It is impossible to make a baby just by yourself. 

Interdependence is in the core of synergy. The elements within a positive synergy are interdependent, meaning they have to each perform different functions or roles with respect to each other. Football team works synergistically, because each player performs his own specific role within the whole organization (team).

Synergy between people can’t just happen as it requires proper environment, the right set of minds. Trust, thinking Win/Win and trying to understand fist creates the platform for synergetic interaction. 

Positive Synergy

In the process of brainstorming to come up with new ideas. The more process diversified, the more different ideas come up, the more successful outcome will be. Positive synergies in group decisions include generation of more ideas, creative solutions, a greater acceptance of diversity, acceptance of the decision by team members and a greater capacity to work together towards the same goal. The human body can perform hundreds of functions because of both the extremely high level of differentiation between its parts (interdependency) – and its capacity to integrate them together. The same would apply to a production process or a technology. A modern car has much greater functionality than the 40 years old one because a car today has about 30,000 parts, which are all well integrated. The combination of differentiation and integration creates positive synergies and creates the functionality that adds value to the whole. 

“Valuing the differences is the essence of synergy – the mental, emotional, psychological differences between people. And the key to valuing those differences is to realize that all people see the world, not AS IS, but AS THEY ARE”

S. Covey

Negative Synergy

On another hand, negative synergy is interaction where the combined outcome is less than the sum of the parts taken separately. Arms race is a good example, where two parties interact that we get the overall outcome that is counter-productive and detrimental to all. Another example of a negative synergy would be two lions fighting over the same territory. Insecure and dependent people create negative synergy. They think they see the world the “right” way and it’s the only way. They are not even attempting to understand another point of view and neglect the differences. 

The next time you realize the other person sees the situation differently than you, say: Good! You see it totally differently than I do. Help me to see it with your eyes.


COVEY, S. R. (2004). The 7 habits of highly effective people: restoring the character ethic. New York, Free Press.