I was so excited when I found out that Bucky (Buckminster Fuller’s nickname) had taught at my Alma mater. He was one of the most prolific inventors of the 20th century as well as a philosopher, designer and scientist. Bucky invented the word “Synergy” and has influenced great leaders such as Peter Senge as well as continuing to surprise the world with his past insights and predictions.
What is Synergy?
Bucky defined it as:
- A dynamic state in which combined action is favored over the difference of individual component actions
- Behavior of whole systems unpredicted by the behavior of their parts taken separately
- Cooperative action of two or more stimuli, resulting in a different or greater response from that of the individual stimuli
I had no idea that Buckminster Fuller had come up with this word since it has become so common. Peter Senge, is inspired by Bucky’s ideas in one of his recent books Presence by saying that:
We tend to focus on the parts rather than seeing the whole, and to fail to see organization as a dynamic process.
Nature has a way to make everything make sense. The next time you sprinkle salt on your plate know that if you take the two ingredients in salt separately you have a poisonous gas and an explosive metal that when combined produce a harmless spice.
You’re probably wondering what does all this have to do with solving organizational problems. Salt has everything to do with it because the synergy of the two toxic ingredients create the salt. When we’re looking to solve an organizational problem, rather than looking at the separate parts-look at the whole system because the parts separately do not tell the story of the situation.
Photo Credits, Alicia Nijdma