Synergy is produced through the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. All living systems are synergistic, and when they stop synergising, they become ill and die. The same is true of communities, organizations, nations and Empires. They run out of energy, goodwill and the support of those they govern or interact with.
Synergistic innovation is key to a regenerative, inclusive, collaborative global economy. A human activity system that generates abundance for all requires citizens to take responsibility for creating synergy in their own lives and work. Unfortunately, the industrial age and financial capitalism have largely destroyed the capacity of small-scale human activity systems to do this. Even the digital economy has skewed wealth distribution toward digital giants such as Amazon, Apple, AirBnB, Baidu, E-Bay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Uber and others.
In order to reinvent capitalism and shift it from a degenerative, exclusive, hyper-competitive system (Game "A") to a regenerative, inclusive, collaborative system (Game "B"), we need to reinvent capital and the organizations that generate and apply that capital, through multi-capital lenses. Today the world is ruled by financial capital, to the extent that, in many countries, only money matters. But without natural capital, human capital, intellectual capital and social capital, we would not be able to produce the infrastructure and manufactured capitals, goods and services we need to survive and thrive. Yet these core living capitals have been downgraded to a record extent by financial and political elites, creating massive social, environmental and political problems globally.
The goal in a regenerative, inclusive, collaborative economy should be to maximise the thriving of human, relationship and social capital, for the least amount of natural, infrastructure and manufactured capital, through the value adding activities enabled by intellectual and financial capital. This would appear to be unarguable common sense as well as impeccable economic, social and ecological logic.
The ThriveAbility Multi-Capital Equation offers us a way to think in an integrated way about every decision we make as leaders, managers and individuals – this integrated thinking can then lead to the integrated decision-making and reporting that ensure that we create True Future Value that is thriveable now and in the future. The purpose of any human activity therefore becomes to continually enhance the numerator of this equation and reduce the denominator via innovation.
Synergies between the eight capitals can then be explored to co-create the synergistic-innovations that activate these strategies and scale them up so that they become embedded in the socio-economic fabric.
The key to synergising and synergistic-innovation lies in synergising flows of capitals across activated clusters of networks of people that care about creating a world fit for human habitation and future generations. Such activated networks of care and action ultimately decide what is “good” so that more resources and rewards are allocated to good companies and good investments, while fewer resources are allocated to “bad” companies and poor investments. These ultimate judges include stakeholders such as consumers, employees, business partners and, to some extent, suppliers.
On the economic and financial front, stock markets, investors, asset managers, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, insurance companies and others act as intermediate judges of the relative goodness of a company and its products and services, along with regulators, the media and governments.
For more details, see the book. "Synergise! Redefining Leadership & Management for the 21st Century".