Synergy: When one plus one equals three

“Synergy is what happens when one plus one equals ten or a hundred or even a thousand! It’s the profound result when two or more respectful human beings determine to go beyond their preconceived ideas to meet a great challenge” –Stephen Covey Have you ever been on a team where everything seemed to click? You all knew the goal, you were all committed to it and, amongst you, you had all the skills to achieve something that none of you could do alone. That is pretty much the definition of synergy. And synergy is what high performance teams achieve. Some years ago, I had the good fortune to lead a group of ten very “differently-abled” people on a 5-day wilderness canoe trip. Now, this was a trip with significant distances to cover on the water, numerous rugged portages and daily camp set-up along with all the “group dynamics” challenges that one would expect when people are exposed to clouds of biting bugs, periods of pouring rain and prolonged physical effort. That trip remains one of the most memorable and inspirational experiences of my life. I could probably draw out every lesson on team building that I’ve ever learned from those five days, but one experience in particular remains vivid. Picture this: It’s late afternoon on a remote and pristine northern lake. Although it’s sunny, a strong headwind has whipped the middle of the lake into a seemingly endless series of whitecaps. All but the very margin of the lake is essentially a ‘no-go” zone for paddlers in these conditions. But a fleet of 5 canoes inches its way along...