Habit 6: Synergise

Welcome to habit 6 on the science (or not) in the 7 habits of highly effective people.

Habit 6

Those following so far will know my larger conclusion is pointing to -> trying to find the ‘evidence base’ / scientific support for management gurus ideas, is a fool’s errand.  That is me in the basket, feeling a little sad and blue.

My quest is failing not necessarily because there is no science in the ideas, but because despite the squillion dollar spend on management guru advice, management researchers don’t seem to be researching the efficacy of such heavily implemented ideas and programs.

The good news is there is a book in this … so that will keep me and my co-author busy for many moons (true story we are going to do something positive in this space, stay tuned).

However, let’s just finish off with the final ideas as I have gone too far not to go further.

Habit 6 is about synergy – which is simply when ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts’.

Covey argued synergy means – the relationships the parts have to each other is also a part, and the best part to boot.

I have some concerns with synergy as a ‘habit of highly effective people’ as it seems to be more group focused and seems to breach the definition of a habit which google tells me is “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up”, which feels about right and doesn’t seem terribly connected to group synergy? Or is that just me?

It seems that the individual bit is being open to group synergy, for which thinking win/win would help.  I am sorry to say habit 6 is not really working out, I’m not even sure how to find the science in it.  See cat in basket again.

Let me be clear, I am not hating on synergy, the need for it, or the beauty in it – check out the video below for an inspiring tear-jerking story on the power of synergy.  This story speaks to me of creativity, humanity, courage and pride.  Maybe creativity is the other habit behind this ‘habit’.

I am simply struggling to answer my own question – what is the scientific evidence for the idea of synergy as one of 7 habits of highly effective people?  So I quit (which is almost certainly an anti-habit of effective people).  I am very keen for others opinions on this – please post below.

References links and all that jazz


This is part of a larger series on Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits, being:

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with the End in Mind
  3. Put First Things First
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw

Photo Credits:

Playdough Art by Rosie