Is there a greater need for more synergism within business, especially from the perspective of start-ups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs)? To be able to explore this proposition there is a need to understand the notion of synergism, it is:
The interaction and cooperation of two or more organisations, and/or business functions/departments, to produce a high quality output, which is a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.
Whilst this may seem somewhat convoluted the premise is simple, work collaboratively to achieve more.
Working in Partnership was explored in a previous article, and proffered that business collaborations, where risks, resources, skills, and knowledge are shared often yield greater opportunities and benefits. However, there does appear to be an issue with regard to the synergy of functions/departments within some organisations, for example, where there is a greater emphasis on sales rather than the actual product/service being delivered. This creates a battle ground between operations, as well as employees, to the detriment of the business.
Many start-ups and SMEs fall into this kind of practice as they chase cash in an effort to establish themselves in the market, rather than taking a holistic approach to the organisation with a view to quality operations throughout. There is a failure to recognise the damage a short-term approach to business can cause and the impact it can have, especially in terms of increased levels of stress that can lead to poor quality, high staff turnover, and a reduction/loss of skills and knowledge, which inevitably puts the business at risk.
Arguably, the issue occurs when business owners and managers lack knowledge, understanding and experience. As stakeholders these individuals hold great sway over the organisation, culture, and operational practice. Depending upon their knowledge and understanding, and ultimately their end goal, the business will function and operate in a way to achieve their perceived desired state, with little or no forethought to the future. The reality is that some business owners, managers and leaders do not possess the appropriate skills, knowledge, and holistic business insight to effectively manage the overall performance of a business.
Whether it is a start-up, or a SME, there is a need to understand stakeholders and their importance to the business and how it operates. A stakeholder, a person/group or organisation that has an interest or concern in the business, is a key player in the organisation, and can help influence performance, operational practice and change organisational culture. In this case, the focus is on internal stakeholders, specifically:
The identified groups are key to organisational synergism, as each has their own part to play in regard to operational and interdepartmental communication, operational practice, and performance. Consequently, issues arise when key stakeholders lack understanding, and the ability to perform proactive business functions for the greater good of the organisation.
This becomes more apparent when considering many start-ups and SMEs distinct lack of understanding of the notion of the internal customer and why they are important to the business, not only from an operational perspective, but in regard to the synergy that can occur when working effectively. The internal customer in simple terms is an employee, who receives goods/services from elsewhere in the business, as an input to their work.
The need to create a more rounded approach to business operations is apparent; the utilisation of effective synergy within business can lead to greater performance, employee engagement, higher levels of quality, sustainability and increased profits.
A model which can assist in this process is Total Quality Management (TQM). It is an approach to business which views long-term success rather than short-term goals. The model predicates that continuous improvement in all aspects of the business is vital, and should be viewed as a process to long-term success. The following diagram adapted from Oakland & Porter, illustrates TQM, identifying the equality between component elements and their connection to one another in a synergetic relationship within the business:
To create a more synergistic approach within a business environment, individuals and organisations need to develop their understanding of operations and organisational working practice. However, it is essential to consider the implications of any given action and the causality of its effect, with a view to how the organisation works, and what the business is trying to achieve holistically.