There are different definitions of synergy. Some of them are:
- Synergy is the differenc between the combined effect and the sum of individual effects resulting from the interaction of a group of humans, agents or forces.
- Synergy, or Synergism, is the phenomenon of two or more discrete influences or agents acting in common to create an effect which is greater than the sum of the effects each is able to create independently
- Synergy is the excess stemming from cooperation
- "Synergy means behavior of whole systems unpredicted by the behavior of their parts taken separately" as given in Buckminster Fuller's book "Synergetics".
Person A alone is too short to reach an apple on a tree and person B is too short as well. Once person B sits on the shoulders of person A, they are more than tall enough to reach the apple. In this example, the synergy would be one apple :-)
An example of this might be drug interaction. While each of two agents might have a very mild soporific effect, the two taken together render a patient unconscious.
Another might be relatively transparent and easy-to-understand operating systems and advances in micro-miniturization through refinements of semiconductor technology. Either influence alone would be capable of causing a gradual increase in the versatility and utility of computers, leading to a broadening of their use. Combining the two influences could result in an explosion of computer use, driving ever-more-rapid advances in both compactness and user-friendliness, until computers are as common as kitchen tables.
Prof. Hermann Haken founded in the early 70s the field of Synergetics. He is author of several books including: "Synergetics : an introduction : nonequilibrium phase transitions and self-organization in physics, chemistry, and biology" (ISBN: 0-387-12356-3)
Peter A. Corning also wrote on this subject: "The synergism hypothesis : a theory of progressive evolution" (ISBN: 0-07-013172-4)
Buckminster Fuller's "Synergetics" (1975, ISBN: 0-02-541870-X)