Synergy Map: How To Map Out Your Current Strategy (Part 2 of 2)

In the first part of my how to map your current strategy using a synergy map, I showed you how to position your projects on a synergy map and how to add size, completion and feelings to it.

In this post, I want to show you how to find synergies and conflicts between your goals as well as influential, external forces.

Find Synergies

Look at your synergy map. Which projects could have a positive impact on other ones? In my example, introducing puppet could have a positive impact on installing a NAS device as the automation provided by puppet might make that task easier than I thought. Another example would be improving leadership, which could help you avoid filling out those dreaded TPS reports 😉

Synergies on Synergy Map
Synergies on Synergy Map

Highlight Conflicting Goals

Unfortunately, some of your goals might get in each others way. Doing one of them might harm another. Spending time on filling stupid reports will stop you from fixing bugs and working on your long term goals. Try to find conflicts on your synergy map and show them using red arrows like so:

Conflicts on Synergy Map
Conflicts on Synergy Map

Identify External Factors

Some of your projects might be influenced by external factors. This is important to be aware of as it might limit your freedom to act as you like. Examples might be the availability or delivery time for the new NAS device. You can only start installing it as soon as it is delivered, right? And a corporate policy might hinder you from installing puppet.

Look at each of your projects and try to find out whether they are completely under your control or whether there are external factors influencing their outcome. A complete synergy map could look like this:

External Forces on Synergy Map
External Forces on Synergy Map

Now you have a complete picture of your current goals. At one glance you can see eight dimensions of your current situation: goals, time, size, completion, feeling, synergies, conflicts, and external forces. If you finally add your priorities to the map you even get a ninth dimension to the picture.

So, what does all this mean for you? Going through the complete synergy map exercise above should give you two strategies for reorganizing your projects:

1. Finish your TPS report, now! Its blocking at least two (if not all) other projects. And it’s not too big. So, get it done as soon as possible to free the pipeline for more important stuff.

2. Focus on getting puppet installed. As you can see, it should have a positive impact on at least two other tasks. Even better, one of the tasks which will profit from installing puppet is the dreaded (bleeding red) NAS device setup.

Generally spoken, you should fight for getting the next actionable items of the more long term and permanent goals on your task list. Those are the ones, which get drowned too easily in your daily flood of urgent stuff.

Doing a synergy map every couple of months helps me to reflect on my current situation and to adjust my current priorities and tasks. I value it as a tool giving me a “one glance” overview of what’s important for me right now. I hope you find it useful, too. It would be great to hear about your experiences with your own synergy maps in the comments. Share it with us!

If you’re looking for a tool to help you visualize ideas like a synergy map, take a look at let’s focus.

2 thoughts on “Synergy Map: How To Map Out Your Current Strategy (Part 2 of 2)

  1. Just out of curiosity… Do you use any specific software to draw these maps, or do you prefer drawing by hand on a sheet of paper?

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