“In general, synergy (from Greek sunergia, meaning “cooperation,” and also sunergos, meaning “working together”) is the combined working together of two or more parts of a system so that the combined effect is greater than the sum of the efforts of the parts. In business and technology, the term describes a hoped-for or real effect resulting from different individuals, departments, or companies working together and stimulating new ideas that result in greater productivity” – www.whatis.com

Many of us empathise with the logical sequence: greater productivity,
quality, service excellence, competitiveness, leading ultimately to holistic sustainable development. Sustainable development is a major responsibility if we intend to protect the earth experience for our children and grandchildren. An important element of sustainable development is sustainable economic growth, which can only be achieved if attention is continually placed on enterprise development.

The CBET shepherding model is designed to guide the entrepreneur from concept to sustainable business success as he/she embarks on the journey of enterprise development. Over the last two weeks the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) partnered with CBET to mount an initiative that it is expected will stimulate enterprise development.

The first step in this journey is to convert an existing or new idea into a Business Opportunity Profile (BOP). The CBET instrument used to initiate this process is the High Impact Growth Strategy (HIGS) Workshop that was mounted last week. It was gratifying to note that in the feedback at the end of the two-day workshop, the overwhelming feature was the tremendous ground that was covered at each of the six round tables. This was due to the synergy at each table, brought about by participants, from several diverse backgrounds, interacting to have a combined effect that was greater than the sum of their individual contributions.

This brainstorming process is indeed a method of shared problem solving in which all members of each group spontaneously contributed ideas and rapidly generated a variety of possible solutions for the problem. This initial process sets the stage for sustainable development since the synergy from the interactive dialogue indeed contributed to greater productivity.

This was the sixteenth HIGS workshop in twelve Caribbean countries, where I participated in the facilitation process, and I never cease to be amazed at the combination of synergy and greater productivity as it relates to the output from such an event. Indeed, I recall my first exposure to this synergistic process before I became a facilitator. I presented an idea to my table and invited my colleagues to respond. I do not recall exactly who was at the table but certainly it was a diverse group who would not necessarily be expected to be as familiar with my idea as I was. After over an hour’s dialogue on the subject I was absolutely amazed at the ‘icing’ that my colleagues had put on the ‘cake’. So great was my amazement that I was forced to recoil into a ‘cocoon of humility’ having been flabbergasted by the unexpected synergy generated in a relatively short time by the contributions from a diverse group. Since then I remain a convert of this process and it has never failed.

The major constraint to enterprise development using this process is the lack of a funding nexus between the BOP and the development of a Business Plan. If the Business Plan demonstrates venture viability, with a good return on investment, then it becomes attractive to financial investors and the process of sustainable enterprise development is further charged. We need viable business plans or, in other words, we need to increase the ‘deal flow’.

The BIDC/CBET partnership has recognized this weakness and has agreed to address it, in the interest of contributing to an increased rate of growth for the productive sectors in the country. If similar approaches and partnerships were to be introduced throughout the Caribbean, not only would we benefit from synergy and greater productivity, but we would also be well on the way to securing the economies of the Caribbean for future generations.

At another event last week, the Eleventh Healthy lifestyle seminar for Business and Professional Executives mounted by the Heart Foundation of Barbados and sponsored by Sagicor General Insurance Inc., the same process was used. In the HIGS workshop the objective was to develop BOPs, for possible development into a Business Plan. In the Heart Foundation event the objective was to obtain feedback on challenges that emerged from topics, presented by a number of interveners, so as to benefit from the collective opinion of a group who in this case were responding as consumers.

The topics presented were: ‘Preparing for Cricket World Cup 2007 – Emergency Cardiac Care in Fitness and Sport’ (Dr Brian Charles); ‘Benefits of Physical Fitness to Business’ (Dr Adrian Lorde) and ‘Physical Fitness and Heart Health’ (Dr Raymond Massay). A wealth of information from the consumer perspective was fed back to the plenary which could enhance the design and promotion of the above topics to the workplace and consumers in general. The meeting which was attended by over sixty business and professional executives, concluded with an exposition on Preventive Health, with special emphasis on the Cardiac Disease Prevention & Rehabilitation Programme of the Heart Foundation of Barbados, by Nurse Shirley Gill.