The map that we’ve all been looking for

inmapA good map is the only tool you need when lost and given our perpetual ‘lost’ state with regards to people, it should thus come as no surprise when maps come to the rescue here too. There is of course much art involved in drawing the right map, which is precisely the raison d’etre of this blog.

The first part in this series is a quick introduction to one of the most amazing tools I have discovered in recent times. Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) is no stranger to fame and is preparing to take over the world as the ‘next best thing’.

If you’ve been in organizations for long, you know that the hierarchical structure rarely determines the actual flow of information or knowledge nor does it paint a clear picture of how teams collaborate. It is the informal networks that cut through formal reporting procedures to jumpstart stalled initiatives and help meet difficult deadlines. However, informal networks can just as easily sabotage companies’ best laid plans by blocking communication and generating opposition to change unless leaders know how to identify and direct them.

Think of a network map as a visualization of how work really gets done in organizations. The map helps in assessing risks proactively and take informed decisions. Additionally, it also points out who might be single points of failure, connectors within networks and key decision makers. I’m linking here one of the best papers I’ve read on this topic and would encourage you to take a look at it.

In short, ONA is a fantastic tool that objectively analyzes interaction data collected via surveys to reveal informal networks within teams. It helps understand teams better and also uncovers key players.

If you are curious to know how one can go about creating these maps, stay tuned.

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