What does "synergies mean"?

I implore you to click on the video above because I live for the views, but if you (like me!) can’t stand video, here is the transcript:

Synergies is actually a very useful precise word in the business world but it gets overused and it's not well understood.

What it means is that if you combine two or more things together, you gain a capability that they didn't have on their own.

You often hear this in terms of M&A, where two companies are going to come together, and they get new products, access to market, new innovation, that combined with each other allows them to come up with a new product.

The downside of "activating synergies" is that the easiest, quickest way to activate synergies is to fire people who are duplicative in HR, finance, even in the product delivery groups, [and, well, any group, really] you can "activate the synergies" of getting rid of people and saving that money, which is not great for actual workers.

I would say that's more sad synergies [I really shit the bed there, I should have said "sadnergies"] than good synergies.

But it sure makes [the stock market] happy!

See the other entries from The Business Bullshit Dictionary, watch them all and share them with your co-workers!

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She actually asked to do this. They grow up so fast!


Aside from the usual bucket of edits here and there, I’ve wrapped a video course I'm doing with O’Reilly. One of the editors there (“my editors”?) was really interested in my how to survive and thrive in a BigCo oeuvre, so they asked me to make a series out of them.

I thought this was, like, kind of ridiculous, but I’ve never turned down someone who gave me a specific content assignment. They came up with the suggested topics - which was what I was spacing out on - and we were off to the races. It’s eight 3 or 4 minute chunks (with an 8 or so minute one on presentations, predictably, since that’s like a huge part of my life). I could look at the timelines and schedules and shit for when it comes out, but, it’s like, sometime (I got some other work I need to get to - that landing page copy for an “invite only executive event” isn’t gonna write itself!)…and I’ll obviously annoy you with repeatedly linking to here it.

Anyhow, although this is an uncomfortable amount of polishing my own toot-horn, it came out really well. I don’t mind saying: I somehow managed impress even myself!

In the next few months (next month, maybe even?) you’ll be able to watch it in O’Reilly Safari. Chances are high your big company already pays for a seat for you!,, @cote,,