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Organizational network analysis (ONA) is a powerful tool that makes visible the web of relationships that drive growth, innovation and overall performance in organizations.
The Organizational Network Fieldbook is the only resource that offers executives a guide to perform organizational network analysis.
Written as a companion to the bestselling Driving Results through Social Networks, by Rob Cross and Accenture’s Robert J. Thomas, the Fieldbook moves beyond theory to practice. It details the practical approaches forward-thinking organizations have used to strengthen connectivity throughout their organizations and build the kind of collaborative environment that can yield tangible performance improvements.
Where Driving Results through Social Networks presents a compelling argument for the importance of scrutinizing informal networks, the Fieldbook provides rich, first-hand examples from pioneers such as 3M, ConocoPhillips and the United States Department of Defence.
The book answers the question “What exactly is an ‘organizational network' and why does anyone need a fieldbook to figure them out?” The organizational chart won't tell you how people are working together, but Organizational Network Fieldbook helps leaders understand that behind any new formal structure or collaborative technology is a web of relationships that drives growth, innovation, and overall organizational performance.
Indeed, business value is increasingly created through the rapid formation (and dissolution) of networks of people who represent expertise, critical resources and decision-making power. Using the tools and techniques of organizational network analysis (ONA), managers can map and assess these relationships between people and groups.
Download a complimentary chapter. [PDF, 429KB]
PART ONE: BUILDING NETWORKS FOR COLLABORATION AND COMMUNITY
1. Building a Technical Community
Angelique Finan and Grady Bryant
A description of VeriSign's ongoing experience of bringing together the technical professionals across this geographically dispersed company into a tight-knit and productive knowledge-sharing community.
2. Networks of Excellence
Peter Gray and Dan Ranta
The principles that guide ConocoPhillips in creating internal communities of practice—all of which contribute significant value to the company, either in cost savings or revenue generation.
3. Driving Business Results through Networked Communities of Practice
Rob Cross and Guillermo Velasquez
How Halliburton uses network analysis techniques to turn communities of practice from loose collections of like-minded professionals into robust groups that boost organizational performance.
4. Mapping and Engaging Influence Networks
A detailed description of how the sales function in an IT company used network analysis to identify the individuals in a client organization with the greatest influence on purchasing decisions and engaged them to increase sales, customer loyalty and customer satisfaction.
PART TWO: BRIDGING ORGANIZATIONAL SILOS
5. Network Analysis for Engineering Small Practice Groups
3M's practice of convening small groups of employees from diverse pockets of the organization to solve actual business problems—and forge new connections while doing so.
6. Building Trusted Ties in a New Organization
How the department head in a large manufacturing company assembled project teams whose members built trusting relationships, freely exchanged information and got work done.
7. Forging Global Connections
Christie Dowling, Betsy Smith Redfern, and Victor Gulas
The story of restructuring MWH's IT division using the tools and techniques of network analysis throughout the change effort.
8. Building Healthy Teams
Kate Ehrlich, Ivan J. Blum, and Inga Carboni
How to boost revenue growth in sales teams by focusing on the network characteristics that distinguish the highest performing teams: robust external connections and high levels of internal trust and awareness.
PART THREE: DRIVING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE THROUGH NETWORKS
9. Changing Culture through Networks and Narrative
Steve Denning and Rob Cross
The power of narrative, in combination with a network perspective, to facilitate culture change by spreading a narrative about the change effort to the employees who most need to hear it.
10. Message Monitoring to Accelerate Change
Terry G. Williams
A detailed process used at the Cleveland Clinic and Resurrection Health Care to identify highly connected and influential people and work through them to disseminate messages about the need for change and monitor the uptake of those messages.
11. A Workshop for Aligning Networks with Strategy
The description of a workshop one financial firm used to educate employees about a new strategy and to build the collaborative networks it required.
12. Positioning a New Leader for Success through Network Fine-Tuning
Rob Cross, Robert J. Thomas, Ana Dutra, and Carrie Newberry
How a new unit leader in a consulting firm used network analysis to come up to speed in her new role and increase connectivity, revenues, and innovation within the unit.
13. Improving Decision Making through Network Reconstruction
Rob Cross and Robert J. Thomas
A pharmaceutical company with a highly inefficient decision-making process finds that the solution is not to build connectivity but to decrease it by codifying decision rights and responsibilities.
PART FOUR: CONNECTING PEOPLE FOR INNOVATION
14. The Innovation Lab: Building Idea-Sharing Networks
Jean Singer and Kristi Droppers
A series of workshops that helped the IT department in a large pharmaceutical company open up idea-sharing channels and build the right environment for innovation.
15. Building a Collaborative Innovation Network
The story of the birth and development of the Myelin Repair Foundation, which accelerated research into multiple sclerosis by creating a network of researchers who agreed to share their earliest findings.
16. Connecting through Improvisation
A suite of 11 exercises, many of them from the theater world, that reinforce the behaviors essential for innovation.
17. Helping Leaders Uncover Hidden Assets
A simple yet powerful exercise that can leverage the network-building opportunities in a leadership development program.
PART FIVE: DEVELOPING TALENT THROUGH NETWORKS
18. Embedding a Network Perspective into Leadership
Michael Chavez and Mara Green
Three practices that help leaders build enduring ties and develop an understanding of their key stakeholders and how best to engage them.
19. Improving Leadership Effectiveness through Personal Network Analysis and Development
A template for an in-depth presentation for high-potential employees on the importance of group connectivity and the crucial characteristics of personal networks.
20. Developing Leaders' Networks through a Stakeholder Mapping and Engagement Workshop
Katy Strei and Sally Colella
A workshop that helped leaders at MedImmune identify and engage internal and external stakeholders during a change initiative.
21. The Mentor Marketplace
Christie Dowling and Victor Gulas
How MWH developed an informal mentoring program that helps new employees become integrated into the organization and develop a feel for its culture.
22. Managing External Stakeholders and Stemming Knowledge Loss
Carlota Vollhardt and Brigitte Lippmann
How a global pharmaceutical company mined the knowledge of a departing employee who was the bridge between the company and its most important external stakeholder.
23. Smart Mentoring to Increase Connectivity
Adrian (Zeke) Wolfberg
A program that helps the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency draw in new hires by connecting them with highly central employees.
24. Newcomers' Boot Camp
The agenda for a program that brings new employees in a government agency up to speed as quickly as possible.
25. A Network Approach to Onboarding
Michel Buffet, Gregory A. Janicik, Maria Gallegos, Giulio Quaggiotto, and Lauren Ashwell
Business leaders increasingly realize that value is created—or depleted—through webs of relationships that have traditionally been impossible to see. Many of them have taken the next step, using the tools and techniques of network analysis to visualize the networks in their organizations.
They understand the theory behind the network perspective, but they also recognize that theory can get them only so far. Having examined the networks in their organizations, how should they use the insights they’ve gained? How can they repair trouble spots and build connectivity at critical junctures? How can they embed a network perspective into every aspect of their operations?
The Fieldbook does not advance the scholarship on organizational networks. Instead, it is the only book that gives leaders practical approaches for strengthening key networks and illustrates, through real company examples, the many powerful applications of network-building activities, including:
A Menu of Network-Building Approaches
Readers of the Fieldbook will discover something new and useful each time they dip in to its pages. In 25 chapters, grouped into five sections, managers will find both activities they could try right away in their own units and broader lessons that will inform their thinking and practice.
Some chapters offer detailed descriptions of workshops and programs, complete with agendas and exercises. Consider, for example, the Innovation Lab, a series of workshops devoted to opening up idea-sharing channels within and beyond the information technology department of a large pharmaceutical company.
Or consider a process used at the Cleveland Clinic and at Resurrection Health Care to ensure that critical messages related to a change initiative were not just heard throughout the organization but also understood and accepted. This “message monitoring” process identified highly connected and influential people and disseminated important messages through them.
Other Fieldbook chapters describe broader network-based approaches and therefore offer valuable principles and lessons. For instance, contributors from VeriSign, a major provider of Internet infrastructure services, describe the experience of bringing the technical professionals at VeriSign together into a vibrant knowledge-sharing community.
And contributors from global engineering consultancy MWH write about an informal mentoring program that helped new hires get a feel for the company’s culture and begin to build the relationships they needed to be fully productive.
The Fieldbook is an invaluable and dynamic resource. Although grounded in actual examples, it offers flexible approaches that managers can apply in various circumstances and contexts. And it will remain relevant to managers at all levels for years to come. Networks are not about to disappear.
Rob Cross is a professor of management at the University of Virginia and research director of The Network Roundtable, a consortium of nearly 80 organizations sponsoring research on network applications to critical management issues. His research focuses on how relationships and informal networks in organizations can be analyzed and improved to promote competitive advantage, innovation, customer retention and profitability, leadership effectiveness, talent management and quality of work life.
He is the author, with Andrew Parker, of The Hidden Power of Social Networks (Harvard Business School Press, 2004) and, with Robert J. Thomas, of Driving Results through Social Networks (Jossey-Bass, 2009). In addition to top scholarly outlets, his work has been repeatedly published in Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, California Management Review, Academy of Management Executive and Organizational Dynamics.
Learn more about organizational analysis and dynamics in these pieces that demonstrate how these capabilities are critical to achieving high performance.
Driving Results Through Social Networks
Driving Results through Social Networks provides leaders with a framework and approach for creating organizational networks. Order Driving Results through Social Networks at Amazon.com
Crucibles of Leadership
Crucibles of Leadership showcases an original approach to leader development that calls upon learning from experiences. Leaders in many top organizations have found that the ability to learn from experience distinguishes great leaders from average leaders. Order Crucibles of Leadership at Amazon.com
The Talent Powered Organization
The Talent Powered Organization presents a strategic and holistic view of talent. The book illustrates why talent management requires a strategic and integrated approach across the wide range of possible interventions and investments. Order The Talent Powered Organization at Amazon.com
Fostering High-Value Collaboration: Research Report
In times like these—when increases in market volatility and complexity have delivered a one-two punch to many organizations—collaboration brings a richer and more diverse gene pool of interests, skills and experiences to bear on a common topic. It encourages initiative from people who might otherwise wait for direction.
Is This Any Way to Make a Decision?
Informal networks can play a pivotal role in how organizational decisions are framed and executed. But they can also result in too much collaboration—the kind of lengthy and expensive decision making that can cost companies dearly in missed opportunities.
The Organizational Network Fieldbook: Video Interview
In a video interview with two of the co-authors of The Organizational Network Fieldbook, we learn what an organizational network is, the many benefits that may be realized through these networks and how the Fieldbook can help turn the concept into something that is actionable and drives results.
Leading in a Connected World: How Effective Leaders Drive Results Through Social Networks
Leading organizations are finding ways to improve business performance and get more from their talent by taking a “network perspective”—a view of the company as seen through the many informal networks through which most of the work gets done. Based on research at more than 100 organizations, this article shows how leaders can minimize workflow bottlenecks, rapidly integrate newcomers, engage underused high performers, bridge organizational silos and bring maximum expertise to bear on problems and opportunities.
How ‘Who You Know’ Affects What You Decide
There is no shortage of high profile examples of bad business decisions. Less well-known but just as insidious is the large number of good decisions that go bad. Frequently these decisions are premised on good ideas that garner support but then somehow get lost, sidetracked or even reversed en route from approval to execution. Bad decisions and poor decision-making processes are a big drain on management time, waste precious resources (often not detected on any balance sheet) and put a serious crimp on innovation. This article showcases how informal networks in organizations affect the ways decisions are framed and executed and what organizations need to do to build the right networks.
How Top Talent Uses Networks and Where Rising Stars Get Trapped
Research over the last few decades has emphasized the importance of networks. The quality and scope of an employee’s network has a significant impact on his or her ability to solve problems, learn when transitioning into new roles and implement plans of any substance. The characteristics of an effective network, however, are not clear. Six years ago the authors began a research program to learn what makes networks better. Top performers were studied across a wide range of organizations. The results showed that bigger networks tended to diminish performance and productivity—rising stars need to adapt a thoughtful approach, knowing how to increase and decrease connectivity in ways that enhance performance and productivity.
Roundtable: How Decision Analytics Help Leaders Compete
In this roundtable discussion, four top IT executives join noted thinkers Thomas Davenport and Howard Gardner to explore the role of technology and analytics in helping companies make better decisions. The discussion, held in Boston in August 2008, was moderated by Robert Thomas, senior executive director of the Accenture Institute for High Performance.
Read what others are saying about The Organizational Network Fieldbook
“The ultimate resource for practitioners who want to implement insights from organizational network analysis and thinking. Dozens of concrete examples, interventions and practical advice from network experts show you what you can do to strengthen networks and boost performance. Essential for anyone in business, government or consulting who wants to get network thinking from analysis to action in organizations.”
—Wayne Baker, professor of management and organizations, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan
“What a great idea this book is!! This book will demand to be read by anyone undertaking any social network efforts in their organization. It is not only unique, it is very well thought-out, finely written and exceptionally pragmatic. A great achievement for the authors and a great boon to all practitioners.”
—Larry Prusak, author, speaker and former executive director of the Institute for Knowledge Management
"The Organizational Network Fieldbook is a breakthrough resource to tap the value of networks within your organization. It shifts the focus on networks from a high-level concept to a concrete set of tactics you can implement quickly."
—Matthew Breitfelder, vice president, management and leadership development, MasterCard Worldwide
Buy The Organizational Network Fieldbook: Best Practices, Techniques and Exercises to Drive Organizational Innovation and Performance
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