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  • Puneet Sachdev

Organization Network Analysis (ONA) - Harnessing the power of informal employee networks

Workplaces are not the same anymore. They have been increasingly shifting more towards informality instead of watertight reporting hierarchies - think teams, squads, circles etc. and remote working of course. Also, in any professional setting, networks flourish spontaneously: human nature, including mutual self-interest, leads people to share ideas and work together even when no one requires them to do so. As networks widen and deepen, they can mobilize talent and knowledge across the organization. 


What is Organization Network Analysis


How do you understand how work is getting done, who are the key influencers and the go-to experts, what unseen advantage separates your top sales performers and leaders from the rest? 


ONA is a structured way to visualize how communications, information, and decisions flow through an organization. Organizational networks consist of nodes and ties, the foundation for understanding how information in your organization is flowing, can flow, and should flow. 


It helps you look beyond the organization chart to identify the key influencers and hidden experts. You may be surprised how much information and knowledge flows through informal networks and how little through official hierarchical and matrix structures. 




image - McKinsey


How is an ONA conducted -


1. Active ONA

Active ONA consists in mapping informal relationships between employees through an online survey, which captures different types of informal interactions. In the survey, employees identify who they interact with and how they interact with each other. This is a customizable survey based on the needs of the organization. 

Each employee needs approximately 5-10 minutes to complete the survey, where a series of multi-tier look up questions will enable user-friendly identification of colleagues in large organizations. A company typically needs 2-4 weeks to implement an active ONA survey, and the results can reflect the whole organization even with a level of participation as low as 40%. This is because even if an employee does not participate in the survey, he/she might be reflected in the analysis after being identified by a colleague.


2. Passive ONA 

Passive ONA uses the ‘digital exhaust’ of your enterprise to organize and present a visualization of the reality of work getting done. This passive data gathering process requires no surveys, no online forms or questionnaires. This means that the data already exists. Using statistical analysis, behavioral scoring and data science, it distinguishes between mere connections and actual relationships by measuring the frequency, strength and the way in which communication takes place across multiple types of employee networks 

As the data is analyzed and mapped, in passive or active ONA, to the way employees actually exchange information and knowledge, you may conclude that the formal structures of companies, as manifested in their organizational charts, don’t explain how most of their real day-to-day work gets done.


Use Cases -


Identifying hidden influencers - using a data driven approach to identify influencers reduces potential bias and finds key people who have stronger and broader networks to impact organizational change and be placed strategically. 


Identifying hidden experts - ONA can help you identify the ‘hidden stars’ in your organization, the go-to people for information. This data can be used for talent management programs, for recognizing those who would otherwise not show-up on your radar, for identifying the experts who can be mentors. 


Sales teams effectiveness - the ‘relationship capital’ differs between high and low performing sales teams. Top sales reps and managers form a different profile of networks compared to others. High performing managers tend to have stronger internal and external networks.


Manager effectiveness - similar to the sales team effectiveness the ‘relationship capital’ differs between high and low performing managers. Top managers form a different profile of networks compared to others. High performing managers tend to have stronger internal networks.


Organization Design - increase operational effectiveness by building an organization that is structured to increase collaboration and exchange of information between the right people.


Measure Collaboration - for example especially useful in multi locational offices and for identifying how the levels of collaboration impacts performance.  


Measure Inclusiveness (D&I) - I read a quote somewhere that said “diversity is being invited to the party and inclusiveness is being asked to dance”. Can you imagine the lost opportunity of not having all your employees on the dance floor? 



Source to credit: Deloitte, Trustsphere, McKinsey


About The Singularity Lab

The Singularity Lab is an integrated human capital consultancy, helping technology companies achieve exponential results by attracting and retaining top talent and creating high performing cultures based on data, design and technology. Book a free call to learn more about our solution, including ONA, here.

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