Science meets the workforce
How to capture the way your company actually functions
Think of the communities you’ve been a part of in your life. Your company, your family, maybe your religious group. In each instance, how long did it take you to identify the people in the group that had knowledge, power, or influence? I’d venture to say that those were the first you noticed, whether you set out to find them or not. Workplaces are no different; in fact, they are the epitome of these social webs (just see the anecdote about Joe and Mary below!). Now there is a way to map these connections and lines of communication for the purposes of deriving their business value.https://seity.com/services/organizational-network-analysis/ . Your organization’s org-chart probably doesn’t dictate what actually goes on from desk to desk. We discuss the alternative with the expert Dr. Deborah Peck, herself:
What is an organizational network analysis?
“An organizational network analysis is a diagnostic process that uncovers how people relate to one another in the workplace. The analysis also shows how people interact, communicate, and share knowledge–basically how everyone stays productive in the workplace. The output of the analysis is a map of how those relationships are working in the organization. The visualization is extremely important to helping groups and leaders understand where there are challenges and where there are leverage points to solve problems, make decisions, and make the organization more effective.”
What does the visual look like for Organizational Network Analysis (ONA), and what’s the point of it?
“Leaders often think they know how their organization functions; an organizational network analysis will reveal how things are actually working. Whenever you join a company, you quickly find out something like this: ‘I report to Joe, but I can get better answers if I go ask Mary, who is also a manager, or maybe my peer has all the answers and I can get it from them quicker than if I follow the process that someone has defined.’ Everyone knows who to call quickly to get an answer or share an idea or make a decision. It’s how work really gets done. All I’m doing is taking this process, which is normally invisible, and making it visible.”
These visualizations, how can leaders act on the analysis? What kind of actions should they be taking based on what they see?
“There are so many things that they can do. There is so much information in the analysis, and it tells so much. I coined the term “turning intuition into science ©” to describe the output. People tend to believe that they already know what’s going on in their organization, but if you have 200-300 people in your organization, there is no way that you know what every one of those people are doing and who they’re talking to, who those people are talking to, and all of the ensuing connections. That’s what this science does; it helps leaders figure out how many jumps and different people each person is connected to and what impact that has on business results.
“From a leadership perspective, you’re able to draw a number of conclusions from this kind of analysis. For example, you could identify key players, departmental behavior, etc., and that’s important to know for change, integration, or just get a project done. I’ve seen people make immediate changes. The analysis tells them where they have conflict, where they have trust, where they have generational differences, and can even map differences if they just went through an acquisition and are trying to integrate two companies cultures.”
That is a lot of valuable insights! What would be a specific example of how a leader took action after doing an organizational network analysis?
“I had one client that had acquired a company 3 years before, and my client was a new CEO. He had his leadership team telling him that everything was fully integrated, but he wasn’t sure. So I took a snapshot through an organization network analysis and it showed that there were maybe 5 leaders from one organization that did spend a lot of time talking to a bunch of leaders in the other company–5 leaders out of 20. The rest of them weren’t communicating and remained isolated. Needless to say, they changed their plans for the year to try to overcome that. It’s not me going in and making a subjective observation, it’s their own self-reported results.”
Deborah Peck founded Seity Insight with one goal in mind: to enhance business effectiveness through people. She earned her Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology, where she spent much of her time researching employee trust in leadership. Deborah uses her robust background in education, technology, leadership, and human behavior to aid organizations through major shifts; her science-based approach is unlike many others, as it maps the future of an organization through insight on existing human connections. If you’d like to learn more about Deborah or Seity Insight, click here.
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