The Synergy Map method was developed in 1998 by Martin Eppler. It can be used to find synergies between various activities or goals. The synergy map facilitates the visual discussion of the main goals and sub-goals necessary to move the implementation of a strategy forward during a particular time frame.
In this method, goals and activities are defined and prioritized and then introduced into a timing circuit. The objectives will be distributed on the circle according to their temporal component, ie, short, medium and long term and permanent. With the connection of the individual targets are shown with arrows indicating the synergies and conflicts. Each identified goal synergy (i.e., how one goal can help another or how two goals can be used for mutual benefits) and each goal conflict are captured as arrows on the map that connect two goals.
The Synergy Map can be used on a personal level or in groups. On a personal level, it can be used to find synergies among one’s personal goals. In a workshop context, it can be used to tie together various action points.
The Synergy Map positions relevant goals or activities on a circle and identify their synergies and conflicts. It is used as follows:
- List your ten foremost goals, activities, projects or to-do’s on a separate list.
- Draw a large circle. The four quadrants of the circle show different time horizons: short term, mid term, long term and permanent.
- Position relevant goals/tasks along the circle (from short term goals in the first quarter – counter-clock-wise – to the last quarter for permanent goals or activities) by drawing a small circle for every project along the border of the time circle.
- Assign priorities to these ten issues. Use larger circles for bigger activities. Label the activities with key words. Fill each project circle according to your rough estimate of the degree of completion.
- Connect interdependent activities with thick or thin lines to represent strong or weak synergies and conflicts. Label the connections with key words.
- If useful, add external influences as arrows pointing to specific goals or activities.
- Try to establish as many synergies leading to the top three items as possible.
The main advantage of the synergy map is that it helps management teams to systematically identify interdependencies (synergies and conflicts) among their strategic goals, after faving established their sequence. This may not be possible by simply talking through, or thinking about, their goals’ relationships. By drawing the multiple goals related to a strategy in a circle, synergistic and conflicting goals can easily be connected, and the nature of the synergy or conflict can be labelled. In addition, external influences can be compiled and mapped and possible responses or preventive measures can be discussed and recorded. The synergy map is also particularly helpful in making a team aware, at the planning stage, of possible implementation bottlenecks.
In terms of disadvantages, the synergy map method requires a willingness of a team to experiment with a new format and (if used as a tracking device) a new organizational routine. The synergy map may also reveal conflicts among goals that are hard to resolve and it may thus create (nevertheless fruitful) tension. In certain circumstances, Team members may engage in tactical behaviour and not list all of their goals, as they know their objectives will be visualized, documented, communicated and tracked.