Synergy is the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It is the driver for nearly all product development efforts, the presumption behind most business mergers, and the motivation behind many top-down efforts that encourage independent groups to work together. But true synergy is not easy, free, or even possible without the right environment. Consider this cautionary note:
Barry Diller, the chairman of IAC/Interactive Corp., was at Harvard Business School explaining the rationale behind the mosaic of interactive commerce companies he had assembled at IAC, such as Ticketmaster, Hotels.com, Match.com, and LendingTree.com. One of the students pointed out that these various businesses seemed to be operating independently, not in a coordinated synergistic fashion.