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Beyond the organizational chart: exploring the “real” organizational structure with Organizational Network Analysis

Do you know how your organization really works? The “official” organization chart only tells part of the story. To get a better understanding of the complex reality of your organization, you need to look at the real flows of work and information exchange, the networks of trust and support, and the culture(s) that exist within it.

Fortunately, there’s a tool that can help: Organizational Network Analysis (ONA). ONA allows you to evaluate the relationships and patterns of communication and collaboration within your organization, so you can identify patterns and trends in communicationcollaborationinformation flow, and influence.

For example, let’s say you’re starting a process of change and transformation in your company. You want to invite the right people to your workshops and sessions, and get a representation of different perspectives while informing and reaching the whole organization. ONA can help you identify the most influential people in your organization and map out the different sub-cultures that exist within it.

Take a look at this example of a company with 110 people undergoing change. In the image below, you can see a map of influencers in the organization, with the most influential people highlighted in green.

Map of influencers in the organization.

We can see in a simple way that some of the most influential people are at level 3 of this hierarchical structure (the large green nodes). Also that one of the most influential people is in orange, which means that she herself is not influenced by the management of the organization and is not “aligned”.

But that’s not all. By adding a second map that indicates the different sub-cultures of the organization, you can get a much more valuable vision of your organization as you continue the transformation process.

Maps of communities/cultures within the organization.

Have you ever used Corporate Network Analysis in your organization? What tools do you use to assess the structure of relationships and communication patterns in your organization? Share your feedback and experience in the comments below.

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