Synergetics = a new way of thinking about how processes can reinforce each other for better results, and with more efficient input, conceived by Buckminster Fuller.
From the Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synergetics
"Inspired by the laser theory and founded by Hermann Haken, synergetics is an interdisciplinary science explaining the formation and self-organization of patterns and structures in open systems far from thermodynamic equilibrium." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synergetics)
(note that the Wikipedia article differentiates between different meanings of the concept)
Synergetics' is a concept and book by Buckminster Fuller, referring to the concept of either the output of a system not foreseen by the simple sum of the output of each system's part. A 'synergy' can also be defined as 'all sides contribute, and all sides win and receive the collective output of all contributing". Such a concept we can see being active in human interaction like Co-intelligence, or even obvious applications like a wiki itself.
To provide a formal basis to this idea of Synergy, Buckminster Fuller created a whole new geometrical system, the "Synergetics". Contrary to classical euclidian geometry, Synergetics deals with aspects such as the strength or the stability of forms, and is therefore especially adapted to applied geometry, such as architecture, or to understand the way nature uses forms. For instance, the triangle is a stabler structure than the square: create a triangle by putting together three rods in iron; try to "destroy" a triangle by pushing one of its sides: it is almost impossible. Now,do a square with four rods. Push one of the side. the square almost immediatelyy collapse. the only way to make a square stable is to triangulate it: using a diagonal to create two triangles.
This example shows that some forms have a better "synergy" than others. From this knowledge, one may create new technological devices. For instance, the geodesic dome, the architectural structure for which Fuller is famous, uses the synergy of the triangles to become much more stable, although necessicating less material, than classical cubic buildings. Fuller's new geometrical forms play also a growing role in the new field of nanotechnology: some molecules have been labelled fullerenes in reference to his work.But Fuller never hesitates to use his concept in fields unrelated to architecture: it is, as the "Synergetics" book subtitle shows, a "geometry of thinking" aimed at completely revolutionize our way of seeing the world.
The knowledge of synergy, according to Fuller, may permit the the development of "ephemeralisation" (doing more with less) and contribute to the accelerating acceleration of progress (of which the Moore's law is the most striking example). In the beginning of his essay "The Magic Cauldron", Raymond acknowledge the relationship between Fuller's ephemeralization and the way free software is developped."
"In management science, synergetics was first applied to deliberative structures by Stafford Beer, whose syntegration method is based so specifically on geodesic dome design that only fixed numbers of persons, determined by geodesic chord factors, can take part in the process at each deliberation stage. Beer's work was briefly applied by the government of Salvadore Allende in Chile in the early 1970s, and survives today as a series of related management methods. All of these seek some macroscopic order of priorities by taking some path of integrating diverse positions or attitudes to some problem, making the synergetic assumption that priorities will converge.
There are similar themes in the work especially of Jay Forrester and Donella Meadows who sought leverage on social and management problems by seeking out an emerging macroscopic order. Under synergetic assumptions, this could often be reliably found by determining the points of greatest resistance to change by an older or inertial macroscopic order. The twelve leverage points of Meadows apply the order parameter concept but without making the assumption of "enslaving" lower-leverage points to the higher-leverage. A similar view is expressed in the deep framing theory of linguist George Lakoff, in which basic conceptual metaphors partly but do not completely determine the actions of their users." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synergetics)
A Fuller explanation by Amy Edmondson : http://www.angelfire.com/mt/marksomers/40.html
an online book, probably the best introduction to Fuller's synergetics
The Fuller's "Bible", now online.
See also: Synergy