Change Guru Daryl Conner, in a recent series of webinars, has beautifully integrated current thinking around synergy-building in change processes, into an easy to implement tool for top management and their functional or trans-functional work teams.  We have discussed in other “Top Leadership” blogs how team members can coordinate, collaborate or co-create. Only through a synergy-building co-creation can we achieve the optimal use of resources needed to adapt successfully to ongoing change and produce the desired results.  Synergy, though often thought difficult to achieve, is worth the investment of time and effort when applied to important change endeavors.

Conner begins outlining the three prerequisites for building synergy:

  • Sobering Implications: There are significant consequences associated with succeeding or failing to realize the change’s intended outcomes.
  • Common goal: People focus on relevant, shared activities and minimize or eliminate time spent on nonessential concerns and issues.
  • Interdependence: This sets the stage for unified action to maximize the participation of each key player.

The four stages that Conner’s model proposes for team synergy are:


  • Create the necessary conditions to enable people to communicate effectively and have valiant conversations.
  • Develop a facilitating climate in which active empathy is demonstrated, and divergent perspectives are legitimized and valued
  • Allow for the merging of individual viewpoints into a common perspective that can be supported by all
  • Channel synergistic energy into goal-directed, measurable action plans that reflect sensitivity toward individual members, the team, and the organization.

Appreciative Understanding:

  • Create and maintain an open climate where differences can appropriately surface.
  • Delay negative initial judgments about others’ ideas,  beliefs, feelings, behaviors or concerns.
  • Actively empathize with others and view their perspectives as legitimate.
  • Value diversity and identify positive characteristics about others’ viewpoints and intentions.
  • Focus more on the solution than on the cause with appreciative listening and inquiry.


  • Tolerate ambiguity and be persistent in the struggle for new possibilities.
  • Modify their own values, beliefs and assumptions in order to support the team.
  • Generate creative ways to merge diverse perspectives into new, mutually-acceptable alternatives.
  • Identify issues that cannot or should not be integrated.


  • Establish specific and measurable goals, objectives, purposes and actions.
  • Monitor implementation processes to reinforce and celebrate successes as well as redirect false starts.
  • Implement the need at a pace and in a manner that respects all concerned.
  • Modify the plan when needed during the implementation to ensure relevance to current realities.


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