Building a great Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) survey


As most surveys go, there are four basic steps to build a strong survey:

  1. Identify target population: This is the most important part of the survey as it pushes you to better define the purpose for carrying out ONA in your organization. It is essential to define boundary conditions for the survey at this stage and identify who will take the survey and who will not. A key point to note is that the larger the target population, the longer the survey may become. Also, larger the target group, the more complicated the analysis and interpretation becomes. A good target population is anywhere between 25-300 people.
  1. Create Survey: Ensure that you start the survey with a strong opening statement that talks about the purpose of the survey and addresses confidentiality. Decide what questions you want to keep & what to throw out. Remember, the shorter the better. Re-look at the survey once created and check if the order and flow is correct. Make sure that you test it and ratify the questions with your leaders. Incorrectly interpreted questions have the power to render the entire exercise pointless. Lastly, the survey should not take any longer than 10-15 minutes of a respondent’s time. If it takes longer, go back and trim.
  1. Administer & Monitor: Begin with the leadership telling the respondents why the survey is important. This can be done via a cover note or in-person. I prefer having these sessions in-person and including a Q&A. In order to boost your response rates, you can even have them take the survey in the room immediately after the address. The one other factor that is important is the time of administration/ sending out the survey. My favorite survey administration tool is Qualtrics but there are ONA specific solutions in the market like ONASurveys that also help create good surveys.
  1. Clean & Enter Data: This is yet another crucial step in the process. The files that you extract post survey closure will most probably be not in a state to enter directly into a visualization and analysis tool. This will require manual intervention and cleaning of data and transformation into a readable format.

There two formats of surveys that you can use.

  1. Including names and asking respondents to map frequency against the names. This sample survey is a good example –
  2. Asking open-ended questions and letting respondents enter the top 5 or 10 names that they can think of. This is a better option when the target group is large. However, it may result in some holes during visualization. This involves asking questions like: List up to 10 employees that you frequently turn to gain input, direction, or discuss a new or innovative idea within your team or in the organization. Rate each of them on the frequency of your approach. <Likert scale provided>

Unfortunately, I don’t have a shareable sample survey for this one.

With this done, you are one-step closer to leveraging the power of ONA. In my next post, I will talk about some of the visualization tools you could leverage.


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