[This blog post is a repost of http://blog.atos.net/sc/2011/12/16/watch-this-space-how-my-friends-are-helping-you-to-make-a-change/ ]
Are you a good manager?
That may be a difficult question to answer these days. Different managers manage different things and therefore need different skills.
Their skill set can be seen like a Swiss Army Knife, on which every item on the Army Knife represents a different skill.
Now, let us talk about your skills to manage change. You will easily find out you need not only knives but also scissors, pinchers and most likely other items on the Army knives as change is a complex thing to manage.
The Atos Scientific Community also studied the aspect of organizational change and came up with an additional toolset for you; Social Network Analysis.
The reason for looking into this was the overall feeling that social networks show the informal organizational structure of a company.
This is addressed in a whitepaper on the subject:
“Informal networks have always played a huge role in how works get done in organizations, as many strategically important networks don’t reside on the formal organization chart. Good managers have understood the role of these networks and people who know how to leverage them. “
I already knew that and you probably did so too. However, making sure you understand this informal network before you implement a change was always a very difficult thing to do.
You must recognize that, after the change, your employees, team members and others will be able to tell you why moving a particular person to another part of the organization was a bad idea; you yourself may even notice that some parts of your organization are not running smoothly anymore. So you change something again, and again, and again.
There is another way:
“(…) what is different today is that there are now tools & methods available to get insight in these informal networks. That is what Social Network Analysis (SNA) does. It helps you to find out the underlying, informal structure in organizations. It involves the mapping and measuring of these normally invisible relationships between people and provides the company with an organizational X-ray. Key in understanding and managing networks is to find the critical connectors or the unofficial organizational roles.”
“Would it not be great if you could reveal the real experts in your enterprise and who is accessing them. Target opportunities where increased knowledge flow will have the most impact and also detect information bottlenecks. Or detect opportunities for increased innovation, productivity and responsiveness. “
These insights in the way we can utilize social networks to implement successful changes in your organization is addressed by the authors.
There is even a bigger benefit. By using Social Network Analysis in a structured way, you may find a method to continuously change your organization to meet the changing business goals and still be as effective as possible.
Understanding your blind spots in your social connections may even be as important as understanding your portfolio and your competition:
“There are no “right” or “wrong” network structures; there are just networks that may be less effective in achieving their goals. If (…) organizations undertake social network analysis, it can help them to find the blind spots and manage the gaps which can lead to smarter organizations. “
Do you agree? Are you already using Social Network Analysis for organizational change? Do you see pitfalls, problems and obstacles? Let me know.