My husband and I recently had a multi-day conversation about synergy. What is it? Why is it important? Why don't more people adopt this approach to problem solving? It was much more interesting than normal everyday conversations we have about who ate the last of the raspberries or what dire home repair needs to be addressed first.
Synergy is two or more things functioning together to produce a result not independently reachable. It is the creation of a solution that would never exist or be able to be created by one person or entity alone.
Whenever a challenge is put before us there are a number of approaches we can take to find a solution. The best solutions almost always occur when a true synergistic approach is employed. But, this is not usually the case and we see examples of it all the time; micromanagement, dictatorships, committees that don't ever use feedback from the people they serve, or even parents that don't allow their children to have an independent voice in their own lives.
My husband used the example of the Avengers at this point. Individually, each member of the comic book character league has specific strengths that allow them to get the job done. However, they could not successfully take on the caliber of adversaries they faced without pooling their resources and creating a new level of strength that none of them could muster singularly. I'm pretty sure I was rolling my eyes at this point. I grew up on Louis L'Amour and John Grisham novels not comics; but his analogy was correct.
So why don't more people, organizations, or businesses allow the freedom of synergy to thrive? Arrogance, selfishness, greed, fear of losing control, and even fear of suffering ego damage keep the energy of synergy caged. Sometimes, the status quo is followed without question and the option of synergistic problem solving is never considered. This happens frequently with community groups. Problem solving is delegated to a committee, decisions are made behind closed doors, and instructions are then dictated to the masses who had no say in the matter. As we've all experienced at one time or another, being told what to do when we haven't been involved in the process is the least inspiring and motivating option in any scenario and leads to low buy-in.
Lack of willingness to embrace synergistic momentum prevents progress from taking place every day, in every city, in every state, in every nation. But, Alpena is doing something different and exciting. In an effort to develop a cohesive identity for the community the Alpena Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is using the power of synergistic brainstorming to help build a brand for our community. Everyone should take advantage of the opportunity to participate. They've made it very easy to do so. All you have to do is take five minutes or less and follow the link below to a simple survey: www.surveymonkey.com/s/cityofalpena
What does this survey do for Alpena? It provides a well-rounded response package from the people who call this place home. No one knows Alpena better than us! It lets the CVB know what we as residents feel is important, treasured, and of the highest value. It also lets the CVB know what may need some attention. These things may or may not be items that can be addressed immediately but it allows a proper channel for feedback.
I strongly encourage you to take a brief moment to complete the survey. I did it and it was over in a flash. After you're done, persuade your family, friends, and neighbors to do the same. I don't recall an opportunity such as this previously in my lifetime. If you care about the community you live in and feel that you wish you had more of a voice in the direction of projects that affect your life here, you need to complete the survey. It is a fantastic opportunity to play a part in the construction of Alpena's future.
Mary Beth Stutzman's Inspiring A-Town column appears bi-weekly on Tuesdays.