Last evening’s NSW KM Forum presentation by Laurie Lok Lee from Optimice gave a good overview of organisational network analysis (ONA). Laurie explained how ONA could be applied to help identify and solve workplace problems, as well as how ONA could be used to identify strategic management opportunities.
Laurie emphasised that ONA was “all about visualising real people connections and taking action”. The action part was important in order to turn an idea into an innovation. Laurie defined innovation as “good ideas, implemented”.
It was important to get the underlying data right and to frame the data collection effort to the strategic business needs of the organisation. If using surveys, it was vital that the survey questions were well constructed to ensure the right data was being collected for the ONA exercise.
The visual map generated from the data is only one part of the analysis, however. There is still the need to analyse the information behind the map itself. One of the good examples Laurie gave was a network of people with very strong nodes. The reason – that was where the decision for funding came from!
Some recommended authors from Laurie on networks and innovation include: Bob Cross, co-author of The hidden power of social networks (which I have on my “to read” pile), and Ronald S. Burt, author of Structural holes: the social structure of competition and more recently, Brokerage and closure: an introduction to social capital.
Laurie concluded with some comments on the Sunbelt 2007 conference he had recently attended. The conference was organised by the International Network of Social Network Analysis (INSNA). The conference is the leading international conference on social network analysis and has grown bigger each year. The conference program is quite extensive! The theory, as well as applications in business, health, education, and welfare were particularly strong areas in which SNA was being used.
The ability to visualise relationships and information and knowledge flows using SNA is naturally applicable for knowledge management. One area of interest to me is how and where a certain internal client group in my workplace finds, accesses, and uses information and knowledge. Something for more thought….