Posted by: Ornella Farrugia
on Wed 24 Jan

At January’s Innovation Day, we welcomed Dr. Andrew Parker, Senior Lecturer at University of Exeter Business School. According to Dr. Parker, the master competency of success today is understanding the flow of knowledge.

There is no doubt team structures and organisational processes are geared to efficiency and routine. However, this way of working was created more than a century ago during the rise of industrialisation.

All individuals, groups and organisations work within networks made up of often informal and invisible interactions. Dr. Andrew Parker emphasized the importance of the Organisational Network Analysis, which will allow organisations to reveal the reality of how people are connected (or not), irrespective of hierarchy, role and governance.

The first thing we need to realise is that networks are already here: people naturally build informal “go-to teams” in every organisation. That’s why, surprisingly, formal organisation charts often bear little resemblance to the web of people who actually execute work.

Thus, network analysis appears as a great way to identify the different actors involved within the organisation, but also to have a clear view of potential opportunities and dangers.

So, where do we go from here?

Visualise what is going on: network analysis is not a tedious task and it can be a simple survey going out to all employees, providing results that can be analysed in different ways, for example as network maps. A website recommended by Dr. Andrew Parker with useful resources for those looking into network analysis is Connected Commons.

Identify the key points in your organisation: which people serve as critical conduits for exchange of ideas and information?

Bridge silos where collaboration matters and think of informal ways to encourage people to connect better across teams and functions. Establish joint coffee stands or think of more informal digital social networks for people to interact and find common ground.

Finally, let the key people be experts in what they’re experts in and don’t overload them with other stuff. Everybody doesn’t have to be involved in everything.

These are just some key highlights taken from January’s Innovation Day. Each month, clients of the Innovation Programmes receive a full ACT report, capturing the guest expert’s research, the implications and next steps for leaders to apply back in their team and organisation.

Next month, clients will discover the uses of blockchain technology and how to apply it to transform delivery and improve trust. For more information, please view the Innovation Day page.

Sources: Parker, A. (2018) ‘Organizational Network Analysis: An Overview’, KnowledgeBrief Innovation Day Presentation, 17 January.

Formal organisation charts often bear little resemblance to the web of people who actually execute work.

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