The opposite of synergy…

Recently a friend reported that someone he knew was surprised that not everyone loved [group x, removed on lawyer’s advice], and wondered if there was a DT post I could recommend on this particular subject.

Probably there is, but my back catalogue bewilders and depresses me.  So little changes…

So I either write or re-write this –

It’s rarely if ever about the individuals. On the whole they are admirable, well-meaning (road to hell etc etc) and talented.  This weird thing happens though, that is the opposite of synergy (the whole being greater than the sum of the parts).

They sort of dumb each other down, proceeding at the pace of the slowest ship. [In computer games the computer apparently sinks its own slowest ship, to speed shit up. But I digress.]

Perhaps it comes back to the (quite high) costs of social innovation – even successful ones. I know from bitter personal experience that if you make too much noise about how your patch of the universe isn’t meeting the needs of its – for the sake of argument let’s say -“patients” – then you will suffer from the cool wrath of your boss.  There is that Keynes quote about it being better for your reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally.  Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline (updated edition, which I am reading now) goes on about this too.

So, I shouldn’t be surprised that there appears to be no word for the opposite of synergy!

My offerings – “smugergy” or “complacergy” don’t capture ALL the reasons for a lack of synergy.  Afer all, it isn’t just groups of people who are lazy because they think they are Right who don’t synergise (is that even a word?)

Dinergy (lots of noise – or “din”)?  Weak.  Thinergy?  Thin. Spinergy?  No.

More reasons for lack of synergy

Absence of shared goals
Absence of trust/too much internal competition
Lack of sanctions for free riders
Communications breakdown
Goals not reached
Goals reached (and then squabbling over the spoils)


Update – from a reader…

– fiefdoms – “this bit is mine”

– niceness – trust the others, don’t examine their efforts

About dwighttowers

Below the surface...
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2 Responses to The opposite of synergy…

  1. Arty says:


    Contra – against, opposing

    Synergy. Contranergy. Or maybe “Contragy”. Or MAYBE “contrergy”, however, with “contrergy”, the essential “contra” becomes too merged with the “-ergy” suffix for its origin and meaning to be easily deduced.

    On another note, synergy is all about the sum being more effective than the discrete pieces, so perhaps something with an individualist twist, instead of disruptive and opposing? Maybe something revolving around “separate”? Apparently “se” denotes “apart” in Latin. So “senergy”?

    One thing is for sure; I am putting too much energy (synergistic or otherwise, with regards to the apps I am using to comment right now; dictionary, email etc.) and I seriously need to sleep.


  2. dwighttowers says:

    Thanks Art. Yes, contrergy or contragy works. I hope you got some sleep!!!

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