Many years ago, when laptops looked like luggage and MTV actually played music videos, I was (mostly) attending my senior year in college. It was an organizational behavior class and the big idea was synergy; the total is greater than the sum of its parts. As the final project, I was put in a group with eight other people and told to do something that demonstrated synergy. We decided to shoot a video in the vein of a 1970’s Kung Fu flick.
An evil ninja kidnaps a young girl and her brother lost both his arms and legs trying to stop him (a la Monty Python and the Holy Grail). The rest of us, being friends of the brother, each decide to take on the ninja one-on-one. Naturally, the evil ninja kicks our respective rear ends. We decide to gang up on him, but because we aren’t relying on each other’s strengths, he kicks our rear ends again. Finally, working together, we discover someone is a metalsmith, someone else is a chemist, another an engineer, etc. After huddling and leveraging our strengths, we face the evil ninja one last time. As he gloats over his previous victories, we proudly announce that, this time, we’re using synergy. We’ve combined our strengths. As we separate, we reveal a gun that we built and shoot the evil ninja; rescuing the girl. We had people sitting off camera ‘dubbing’ our voices as we moved our lips and poor fight choreography. Costumes were even worse.
It was, hysterically, horrible… just as we planned. After almost falling out of his chair laughing, our professor gave us an A.
Great project, and the principle is sound. It’s also rare.
Thankfully, it’s something netlogx seems to have in abundance. Thinking back, specifically, on the CMS certification process, was when this principle shined brightest. People gifted with the ability to get answers fell into those roles. People gifted with making and maintaining lists fell into those roles. Those gifted with subject matter expertise, in particular presentations, fells into those roles. In the end, a project that on the verge of getting away from us turned into a very successful project. On top of the state getting certification in record time and having very few follow-up action items, we have a good set of lessons learned and can take this knowledge to another state. As I’ve talked to other employees working on other projects, I’m happy report this is a common occurrence. It is a rare benefit to have co-workers who are willing to admit to weaknesses, offer up strengths, and do whatever is necessary to achieve a common goal. Truly the total is greater than the sum of its parts.