Consultants love great words like synergy.
Talking about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts creates an attractive picture. The tapestry we weave is one where benefits blend with interrelationships and make a beautiful presentation.
Have you ever looked at the back of a tapestry?
It is a mess of strings and strange shapes.
Our neat projections sound terrific. The reality is that it is impossible to unravel all of the relationships and their consequences when we make a change. Most of the time we end up winging it.
We know product A and product B both sell better when they are displayed next to each other. Thats the beauty of synergy.
In reality though how do we make our decisions when product A has to be reworked for competitive reasons. We normally test market various versions of A.
It gets too messy to try and consider all the versions also against product B, even though the existing synergy may be a significant part of our profits. Throw a few dozen - or even hundreds of products into the mix and cost effective testing of all options is virtually impossible.
For large organizations this becomes even trickier. With different profit centers bearing unequal costs and benefits - whats best for the whole is frequently ignored.
Perhaps the best we can do is to remind ourselves that there will be unforeseen consequences tied to our actions. After each change - we need to evaluate the effects on the whole operation.
When we stand back to admire the change - we have to remember to keep testing.