I used to head a corporate department consisting me myself, plus my two part-time wizards. I carried them not as employees but as independent contractors. When the three of us went to work on a creative project it brought new meaning to the word “synergism.” Somehow we brought out the very best in one another. It as like the math concept of 1 + 1 + 1 = 45. Or sometimes 1 + 1 + 1 = 2,000. One morning during a visit to our Corporate President’s office I asked about hiring a lady to sort of take care of the paper work and such. He spoke like a wise old man although he was yet in his prime. “Art,” he said, “I want you to realize that adding another member to your team might not increase your department’s efficiency or productivity. It could backfire on you and lower your efficiency, productivity and even your level of quality. I thought about it and decided we were doing just fine the way we had it.
Well I was in church today and for some reason that advice popped into my head. I started thinking about synergism and asked myself. “Art, what is the opposite of synergism?”
Now we have a lot of brilliant people in our church but one in particular stands out in my mind and I just turned around to where he sits and there he sat. When the service ended I rushed right over to him before he could even stand up and I told him that I believed he had the most creative mind in the church at that time and I wanted his opinion. I asked, “What is the opposite of synergism.” We tossed it around and he started to say, “Too many cooks,” and I joined in with “spoil the broth,” but then he thought like the scientific genius that he was and finally decided on the word “disintegration. ” He then thought for a bit more, smiles and said, “Yes, disintegration.”
Then on the steps going down to the lemonade on the lawn that had been moved inside to a hallway at the rear of the church on account of rain, I cornered another guy who’s brain I admire and he was there with his teen aged son and I asked them both what the opposite of synergism was. Well, his son just whipped out his I-phone and came up with these words, “rivalry, undermining, autonomy, competition and opposition. WOW!
About forty years ago that railroad president, that I stood in awe of, recognized the synergism that was going on in my department and realized all the pitfalls I might encounter with a larger staff. Now that to me is a whole lot more than money saving wisdom…that is pure genius. That president didn’t just lead, he nurtured.