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7 Habits of Highly Effective Agile Transformation: Synergize

Reading: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Agile Transformation: Synergize
7 Habits of Highly Effective Agile Transformation: Synergize

Habit 6 – Synergize, in our exploration of Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, is quite significant when it comes to effective agile transformation. This habit, considered the “principles of creative cooperation” by Covey, is the culmination of all the prior Habits 1 through 5.   As we’ve seen, each habit builds upon the last, and now with Habit 6, we are at the peak of what it takes to be highly effective.

Covey emphasizes that done right, Habit 6 can produce extraordinary results by producing new alternatives never before considered.  He offers up a simple meaning to what it means to synergize.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. One plus one equals three or more.”


Synergy is all around us, at home and at school, in business and in nature, and of course, amongst the 7 Habits.  Covey offers a personal story about synergy in the classroom that reminds me of Robin Williams as the inspiring English teacher in Dead Poet’s Society:

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world”.

It is through what Covey terms “synergistic communication” – where everyone involved gains more insights and mutual learning, and ultimately growth, together rather than individually – that ideas that can change the world can happen.

Nowadays, “synergy” and “synergize” are common buzzwords in our everyday work lives but real synergy is not so common.  To truly experience such a thing in business is like no other meeting or workshop.  People come together with diverse perspectives, open to sharing experiences and learning from the insights of others, ultimately coming up with new, better alternatives.


Synergy starts with you.  Covey explains that the key to synergizing with others comes from within; that is, the synergy within each of us which is grounded in the correct principles of Habits 1 through 3.  With that, we can be open and vulnerable and value the differences in other people to see things as they see them, ultimately, producing new ideas and better outcomes.  Covey shrewdly reminds us that, “Sameness is not oneness; uniformity is not unity.  Unity, or oneness, is complementariness, not sameness … The essence of synergy is to value the differences.”


To synergize is to transform.  Or put differently, synergy is transformational, not transactional.  It takes a whole lot of synergy, in all facets, for an agile transformation to be highly effective.  Without it, the magnitude of change needed to truly transform cannot be accomplished.

And, synergy doesn’t just happen.  There must be safety, and that comes from having established trust.  Covey explains how synergistic communication requires, not just high cooperation but also, high trust.

Synergy is not to be confused with compromise.  Compromise may be the result of being respectful, not synergistic.  As Covey puts it, “Compromise means that 1 + 1 = 1 ½ … Synergy means that 1 + 1 = 8, 16, or even 1600.”  Again, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

All in all, synergy works.  Habit 6 – Synergize is a correct principle that makes us highly effective in life, in business, and especially with agile transformation.


We learned that all the Habits thus far have been preparing us for Habit 6 – Synergize.  Habits 1 through 3 focused us on ourselves and taught us what it means to be principle-centered.   Habits 4 and 5 – Think Win/Win and Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood – gave us the tools we need to achieve synergy with others, in life, and in business.  It’s clear that a proactive organization (Habit 1) with an end-state vision (Habit 2) that focuses on what’s important (Habit 3) by aiming for Win/Win (Habit 4) and seeking first to understand (Habit 5) has what it takes to synergize (Habit 6) for highly effective agile transformation.  With that, we’ve reached a significant peak in our exploration of the 7 Habits and will wrap up our series next time with Habit 7 – Sharpen the Saw on the principles of balanced self-renewal.

Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Agile Transformation: Sharpen the Saw

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