You…me…and all other variables

Applying DVL to your workplace challenges

When I hear someone (including myself) use the words: “synergy” or “synergistic”, I know it could easily be followed by a skeptical response — like raised eyebrows — from anyone not using those words. Perhaps the very idea of synergy has earned this response due to its overuse, lack of agreed-upon meaning, and probability of its being misunderstood given how few people (I suspect) have directly experienced real-world synergy.

Yet my own lived experience has shown me that synergy is a rare and extraordinarily valuable, special-case phenomenon that’s not only real, but something we can and want to build on. Another word for synergy might be “peak performance”, so when it’s demonstrated in a team or organizational context, it can provide a life changing perspective about what’s possible. 

This is why we haven’t used the word synergy before in our description of DVL – not because it’s all that rare or likely to elicit a cynical remark, but because it has to be experienced and applied first-hand to be truly understood and discussed.

I’ve always found the classic dictionary definition of synergy, the one stating: “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” as far too abstract and thus lacking in practical value. Here’s where referring to the bicycle analogy in our first blogpost might be useful again as it provides an easy-to-grasp example.

Imagine you’ve never ridden or seen a bicycle, either in person or in picture form, so you don’t know how a bicycle works. You’re led into a big room where someone has dismantled a bike, and laid out all the parts on a big table in the center of the room (clearly labeled) for you to see and examine from any angle. Next, a team comes into the room and in three minutes, while you’re watching, assembles the bike, then demonstrates its operation by riding around the table a couple of times. After demonstrating its use, they offer you a chance to get on and ride it.

At that point, will you know what the experience of riding the bike is like? The answer, of course, is no. How could you know without first trying it out, then getting proficient enough to take it out on the road by yourself and with others?

While you might see and even intellectually understand what all the parts are for and how they work, that understanding wouldn’t begin to equal the experience of steering and powering the bike yourself, maintaining your balance, determining your speed and enjoying the cruise with all the sensations and benefits that are part of the experience. In other words, the overall outcome of all the parts working in harmony (including you) is far greater than what you can predict by seeing and intellectually understanding the parts alone.

The bicycle experience is an example of synergy: the result of all the parts or people working in a way that exceeds what can be predicted by looking at the parts themselves. . . like the peak performance of an underdog sports team that’s far outclassed in talent winning a championship match against all odds. Synergy is not a vague make-believe phenomenon. It is a precious experience that few of us understand well enough to create with predictability. Using the word needs to be done with care.

Our aim in the Visual Supercharge course is thus to explore the kind of potential synergies and benefits we think are possible for a team looking to improve its collaboration and performance. The “parts” – your team’s existing skills, knowledge and values + all the capabilities of the tech components — can stand on their own and speak for themselves. What we want the course to do is to kick open the door for the new possibilities to unfold.

The variables that generate these possibilities are numerous: any of your team’s issues, situations and challenges, all your existing skills, your attitudes and alignment, logistical factors like the amount of time you’ll invest, the training and orientation you’ll provide, the assignments you’ll tackle, etc. In this light, Visual Supercharge is a tour of many possible scenarios that suggest what you might look for and generate with minor investment and aligned intention.

DVL is a platform, environment, opportunity or space in which to function on a potentially more effective level. Recognizing that just as physical environments and spaces influence behavior and performance, so can a virtual space. In addition to providing this virtual space, DVL adds to the list of variables above an expanded framework for using its set of visual tools and skills.

Applying a fully accessible hybrid form of literacy to any team’s set of talents and abilities can offer strong, unforeseen possibilities in teamwork, clarity and connection and creativity. Keeping in mind that clarity connection can be drivers as well as outcomes as well as diagnostics, DVL’s delivery of continuous improvement to anyone cultivating it is as certain as progress itself.