Friday 18 November 2011

The 3rd Alternative- Synergy at Work-Latest Thinking

I'm a great fan of Stephen Covey and have found his books to be highly impactful where my own life is concerned. His seminal work "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" has sold in excess of 20 million copies globally and is a personal favourite of mine.

Habit 6 is about "Synergy". His description of this is the principle of creative co-operation. How to create something with other people that is better than either of you or a group could have achieved on its own. The whole being greater than the sum of it's parts. What he's done is turned Habit 6 into a book and expanded the ideas. The book is called "The 3rd Alternative". Here's a link to Dr. Covey being interviewed related to the book:

Like many great insights it's simple but not always easy. The human condition has us programmed to see things from our own frame of reference. That's ok to a point. We should always have a position and an opinion. Where this falls down is we need to take our thinking to a different level if we want to breakthrough the problem we're dealing with. For that we need a new perspective and greater flexibility in how we look at the problem. This is what I believe Einstein was telling us when he famously said: "We can't solve a problem with the same level of thinking that exists when we begin working on it"

In the area of Negotiation for example, we often enter into things with a view to getting what we want or limiting what other parties might get. This is classically "win-lose/lose-win" thinking. Either way it never feels great and certainly won't build a lasting or meaningful relationship with the other party.

What I like about this thinking is the impact it has on Conflict in the workplace. It invites us to engage with it differently by collaborating instead of competing. He says that all new and creative solutions emerge from this thinking. I agree with him.

Many years ago I made this my default mindset. The payoffs have been massive. I've become more creative and flexible in my thinking as a result. People feel better as they know they're not being used. Also we build the relationship by creating something together that's new and fresh we could not have created alone. I really like this approach as it invariably takes things to a new place, where freshness of thinking and uncovering of possibilities are more the norm. Trust also increases and you add Value. I see nothing but positives from this mindset. I'd encourage you to consider it also.

The one thing that is slightly unattractive about it is you have to invest upfront to get the benefits. When you think about it this is true of all things. In a world where there is a lot of grey and sameness this is also unleashing innovation and creativity at work. We need more of that.

Your observations and comments are as ever most welcome.


John O'Connell said...

Very good piece Alasdar...I paeticularly like the Einstein quote! Coveys win-win is absolutely critical I think...more than ever in the current times. Keep Blogging!

Hindi Jokes said...

Good Subject. But wonder it looks similar to Think Win Win propogagted by Shri Stephen Covey in 'Seven Habits of Highly Effective People'. The crisp message is its not my way (or the highway) or your way, it is our way (think Win Win again)

Disclaimer: Not read this book, though am a great fan of Shri Stephen R Covey. But the preview sounds to be a precie or an extension of think win win.

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