April 17, 2015: Synergy
Everything is in bloom, it seems. The calves are frolicking in the pasture. The tulips are putting on a show and the iris seem to be struggling to catch up. The grass is a brilliant shade of green. A few yellow-headed dandelions have even put in an appearance. If I could take just a few minutes and focus on nothing else but the signs of spring, it would be easy to forget that the world as we knew it ceased to exist last fall.
But I can’t … take the time … or forget.
I’m in charge now – the duly-appointed leader of the Union Creek collective.
Collective seems an excellent fit in many ways. It’s more appropriate, I think, than terms like militia or anything else of a military nature. Certainly, defense of our group is of primary concern but we are joining forces and working together, collectively, for more than that. We are joining together to rebuild … to re-establish civilization.
Each member of the collective brings skills and resources to the table to help in that monumental task. Some skills, some resources are more critical than others but each individual adds value to the whole. Collectively, we will be stronger than we could ever be individually. So … “collective” it is.
The Union Creek Collective. Sort of a nice ring to it.
Back in the 90’s and 2000’s when I was doing management consulting, the term “synergy” was used quite frequently. It was a buzz-word. Often, when someone wanted to convey that the sum of the parts was greater than the whole … out of the management consultant’s buzz-book would come “synergy”. Synergy is what we need here … and what others will need, the world around, if we are to rebuild society.
As I recall, synergy is of Greek origin and means nothing more than “working together”. Ironic that the fall of the Greek economy was, arguably, the first domino to drop, beginning the collapse of society.
But I digress.
Now, more than ever, we must work together toward common goals, sharing common values to rebuild. Perhaps my background in strategic planning will be of some use in this post-apocalyptic time. I used a formula, of sorts, when I worked with my clients. If you want to achieve something difficult or great, your strategy must be directly connected to what your employees do in their jobs every day. It seems to me that the same formula could be of value now. We certainly face a difficult task. The odds, especially some days, seem all but insurmountable.
We need a shared vision. We need to define our mission – how we will achieve that vision. We need to agree upon shared values. We need to establish goals, ways of measuring our progress toward achieving those goals and strategies for making progress.
My old formula, which admittedly seems a bit trite these days, connected the “what’s” and the “how’s”. The mission was how we would achieve the the vision. Shared values were how we would connect to achieve the mission … and so on. As I look back, the formula seems almost pedantic, but valuable, nonetheless.
I need help. No man is an island. Strategic planning should not be done alone in a vacuum. What we are about to undertake must, necessarily, be a contact sport. I need trusted advisers, second opinions and people with a sense of history surrounding me. I need quick-thinking decision-makers as well as those with more of an analytical approach.
I need my own set of Founding Fathers … and mothers … and maybe a child or two as well.
Theresa, Pete’s wife, with her PhD in anthropology, is a natural choice. Pete would be a good choice as well. He certainly has a sense of history. I think Ariela would be a good addition even though she’s an “outsider”. Including her will, I hope, help us avoid the outsider/insider, us/them mentality. My brother, Joseph, the history teacher, would also be a good addition. I need to give some thought to some of the other neighbors. I don’t want this to be the Johnsons and the Olsens coming up with a plan for everyone else.
I’m also going to need a group of people to help me organize and run things on a day-to-day basis. Ariela is my natural choice for “Secretary of Defense”. Let’s see … the other cabinet positions include State, Treasury, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health, Transportation, Energy, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security …. What am I missing? Education? We’ll run out of people before we run out of cabinet positions if I come up with any more.
We can probably do without a few of those roles … and probably combine a few others. Ideally, I think it would be good to have four or five people that I can lean on to help keep things running smoothly. Just like the “Founding Fathers”, I need to make sure I give all of the neighbors a fair shake in filling these roles. I don’t want this to turn into an oligarchy and I don’t think anyone else does either.
If we have any hope of achieving synergy, we need a balanced approach. My hope is that we can learn from the lessons of the past and chart a way forward to the future.