Organizational Network Analysis Paper
One of the most important applications of network science is the ability to apply it to organizations-a specialty of mine. A while ago I wrote a (pretty long) white paper to help explain the importance and immense value that organizational network analysis provides to managing change within organizations.
Traditional change management theories’ purpose is to provide sustainable change for organizations that puts them in a better position for some goal like growth, expansion, or creating a better product.
But, once theory is applied to real world situations, it generally fails in being able to accomplish successful and effective change. In fact, the low estimate for change management failure in the US is that 30% of all change initiatives fail, with 80% being the high-end of the estimate.
With the large majority of change initiatives ending in failure, social scientists and business practitioners are in need of more effective theories and applications that allow for the precise management and execution of successful change. Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) provides the change practitioner with the ability to map the organization and see its hidden structure. The hidden structure is composed of communication connections between the members of the organization and a lot more. Conducting a network analysis to uncover those connections allows us to elicit many insights that improve the practitioners’ ability to create, promote, and develop successful change initiatives. The communication structure and content found by conducting a social/organizational network analysis can also uncover organizational culture, trust, authority, inefficiency, collaboration, innovation and many others important organizational dynamics that are essential to successful change.
So what I’m saying is that SNA/ONA is a powerful tool that should be used to greatly improve the practitioners’ ability to change their organizations. But,that’s not all: What I really love about this science is that in some studies network metrics outperformed human capital metrics in the prediction of employee top performance. This says that we don’t have to use ONA for big picture views of the firm only, but can actually use it on a very operational/transactional level as well.
The paper is about 20 pages so it’s quite a read, but it has some good ideas for those of us who care about this field.