Synergy comes from the Greek word sunergos which means “working together” (Morris, 1981). Synergy results from two or more people working together, sharing ideas with open minds and mutual respect, and managing conflict in ways that empower all members. This is the advantage of working in a group: the whole group is greater than the sum of its parts. (Harris and Sherblom, 2005, p.11) Synergy consists of two aspects: problem solving and interpersonal relations. (Adult Learners Guide, p.13) An in-class exercise served to illustrate the concept of synergy and how sharing other peoples ideas and working together produces better ideas to those of any one group member working alone.
The cohort participated in a desert survival simulation, in this simulation the cohort was divided into two groups. Each group was given the same scenario. The scenario involves the two groups being in a plane that has crashed in the desert. My group was asked to determine what we thought our ultimate goal was? Were we going to hike out or stay with the wreckage? Then once that determination was made, we had to rank order a list of items in order of their importance to achieve this goal. At first my group had conflicting notions about what to do. Were we going to stay with the wreckage? Were we going to hike out? Then there was the list of items. Which items were most important to the group? Which item was the least important to the group? But towards the end of the exercise we used synergistic decision making to come up with what we thought would get us to our ultimate goal, which was being seen and being rescued.
In our group there were frequent heated exchanges. Some of these exchanges got pretty intense. At times during the verbal exchanges things got vulgar and arguments erupted. There was a lot of one on one verbal confrontation and profanity. This created an atmosphere of discomfort and uneasiness in our group. It was evident from the beginning of this exercise that using the synergistic process was more easily said than done. The group was split down the middle on whether to stay or hike out and what was the rank and order of the items salvaged during the plane crash. If this was a real life situation I’m afraid to think of what might have really happened to my group because at the beginning of the exercise we could not reach a consensus. The group did not have a good working relationship and we were not being considerate of one another’s thoughts. There was no regard for the synergistic process. How could my group overcome this?
According to Bruce Tuckman’s theory, newly formed groups frequently go through a set of identifiable stages or phases in the group’s formation. A crucial aspect to the group’s development is the emergence or explicit selection of a leader, as well as the use of some managed conflict in...