The Power Of Synergy

Centuries ago, within the rural interiors of China, there was a Buddhist monastery. This monastery housed 99 monks, who were led by a Head Monk. These monks led a life of seclusion, chastity and penance. They sustained themselves by seeking food as alms from people in the neighbouring villages. Other than food, another basic necessity is drinking water. There was a fresh water pond at a distance from the monastery. Those were days, when there were no water pipes or borewells. Each day, a set of monks spent a few hours collecting water from the pond in earthen pots and transporting it to the monastery. There was a man-made tank, not too large, within the premises in which this water was stored for the 100 monks to drink from through the day.

The Head Monk realised the below 5 challenges within the process being followed:

1.It took a few hours and a lot of effort to get enough water, so as to fill the tank each day.

2.A number of the more dedicated monks had to spend a great amount of time and energy on this task daily.

3.Some of the monks who were lethargic, used to do their best to shirk this work, which led to conflicts and the absence of collective responsibility.

4.Due to the monastery being atop a hill as well as the difficulty involved in carrying the pots, there was spillage of water during transportation.

5.Last however not least, there were limited pots available and they could not purchase more of it due to financial constraints.

To address these issues, he devised a simple mechanism so that the task could be completed quicker, less energy of the monks could be consumed and the spillage of water could be controlled. All this with the limited resources in terms of the pots that they had. He ordered the monks to form 2 human chains. He had calculated that it would take 50 monks, including himself, as a part of 1 human chain to transport water from the pond to the water tank in the monastery. They would just be required to pass each earthen pot filled with water to one another like a game of “passing the parcel” until the content goes into the tank. Another chain of 50 monks, would form a corresponding human chain to pass the empty pots back to the pond, so that it could be filled and transported back.

This ended up not only making the activity quicker and easier like clockwork, it also fostered among the monks – the spirit of mutual responsibility and working together in tandem as a part of a team. The Head Monk’s foresight in harnessing the Power Of Synergy made the composite process more smooth and efficient.In every sphere of life, be it personal or professional, working in synergy with those around us can enable the amplification of efforts which results in augmented results. Coaction can lead to a “win-win” outcome for all involved. Yes, there are challenges in working in synergy such as:

1.Not everyone around us may want to work in unison, due to whatsoever reason.

2.Agendas, egos and silos can act as robust barriers and restrict individuals from engaging in a symbiotic manner with one another. 

In context to a mid-size logistics company which I have been consulting with, I had an insightful opportunity to observe the power of synergy in full flow across the organization. It is very rare to observe multiple functions and lines of businesses within an organization working in so close a synergy. I would like to draw parallels of this organization’s internal synergistic approach to a large orchestra playing in perfect symphony. When I had interviewed a few of the organization’s key clients as a part of my assignment, this feedback was conveyed to me consistently by each of them – “The various departments in this company work in absolute synergy”. Their clients were absolutely delighted! 

Enthused as well as curious, I met up with the Country Manager who is leading the business, to understand as to how he had managed to create this environment of collaboration. He outlined 4 lucid points of action:

1.Instill within everyone, across ranks, the importance of working in coaction and the results which could be achieved through this.

2.Publicly acknowledge and reward team members who go an extra mile in working in synergy especially beyond their own team.

3.Identify silos and dismantle them, since it is the biggest hurdle in creating a collaborative organizational culture.

4.Lastly, I (Country Manager) do my best to work in synergy with my core team as well as stakeholders at my global headquarters and everyone knows this.

Although he put these points in such an uncomplicated manner, it sure is not as simple to harness the Power Of Synergy as it appears to be. What do you think? Wishing you a highly synergistic year 2020…go on, make great strides and raise your Eclat…

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