Organization Network Analysis: Unleash Human Potential

Organization Network analysis (ONA) is a tool to measure patterns of collaboration between people within and across organizations. Leading companies use ONA to amplify people analytics and make data-driven decisions to enact change, drive innovation or execute strategy. Network analysis allows us to visualize how communications, information, and decisions flow through an organization.

The Other 80 Percent

It has been demonstrated that our traditional hierarchical structures account for about 20% of the way work gets done in an organization, and the other 80% happens in the networks of an organization. For more on this, see the links to my book below.

Historically, we have focused organization design efforts only on the 20%, leaving the rest to chance. But now that we know how to see these networks, and measure the effectiveness of these networks against our business strategy, we can improve the networks to get the right type of connectivity for our strategic intent.

Networks redesign is the secret to reducing friction, focusing attention, increasing collective intelligence and unleashing human potential. We can shorten the network path by structuring network relationships between roles. We can do this intentionally to get different patterns and therefore different business outcomes. This allows us to go from the 20% Human Capital solution to the 100% Social Capital solution.

How It’s Done

How do we do this? First, we assess how may networks overlap vs. those that are isolated. We identify who the well-connected individuals are and what role they play. We also identify the isolated individuals and understand how this could be impacting effectiveness of their role. Then we compare network findings to the hierarchy reporting structure to understand consistency between social networks and hierarchy, and also to understand where differences occur between social networks and hierarchy. 

With ONA we can measure elements of relational analytics.

Structuring Relationships: Shift Network Patterns

Our brains are hard-wired to be social, thus we can we shift network patterns by intentionally structuring relationships. One way to go about developing networks which build cross-organizational awareness, information sharing, and relationship development is to change the roles and reporting relationships, as hierarchy is one type of network. But not all interventions need to change reporting. There are many other techniques that can be used to change network patterns. Some of these include:

  • Job rotation – employees get to experience life in different parts of the organization
    • Temporary work groups – employees carry out isolated tasks which are separate from their day jobs in new groups, for example quality circles
    • Permanent work groups – employees carry out tasks which are separate from their day jobs in new groups
    • Informal meetings – managers organize informal meetings where information can be shared, and relationships built
    • Performance objectives and incentives – objectives and incentives focus on driving targeted network development
    • Communities of practice – employees informally share information around practices that are important to the organization

Social Capital is the other 80% that until now has remained unstructured, and in adding these insights and interventions to our traditional restructuring efforts, we go from being 20% effective to 100% effective.

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