Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) need not be a mystery to business decision makers. Unfortunately, ONA is too often presented with unfamiliar terminology, mathematical variables and generalized promises of seemingly impossible benefits. In this context, it is no surprise that it has taken far too long for businesses to adopt ONA as a standard practice and toolset for building stronger companies.
Simply put, ONA creates visualizations into how employees build informal relationships, work together, benefit one another, and innovate to meet company goals. Relationship information is collected through surveys and other people data to build maps of interactions that can be contrasted with formal org charts. Key strategic influencers, org business communications pathways, innovation sources, productivity results, inclusion metrics and other dynamics that dictate how work is really getting done can be measured. Programs can then be better customized to fit the needs of individuals and teams within an organization.
ONA is often discussed in the context of social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn) or social capital (values created through our relationships). Work relationships are built from human interactions and are not necessarily built around reporting structure requirements or job responsibilities. Understanding this is extremely valuable in building successful companies. Job satisfaction and long term success center more around work relationships than they do around rules, reporting structures, revenue targets and company policies.
Why Use ONA in Business?
Business metrics are geared toward company revenue goals, market share and shareholder value. Individual employee metrics are focused on performance reviews based on goals set by a direct report manager. At best, team goals may impact employee compensation, but there is little available to measure the effectiveness or sustainability of a team. ONA provides a basis for understanding the “whys” of team performance.
Revenues are good, but attrition is terrible.
Innovation is stagnant.
Diversity cannot be maintained through aggressive hiring.
Culture and engagement programs do not change employee perceptions.
M&A metrics are poor and integration is difficult.
Change programs have extensive resistance.
Continuous re-orgs do not solve team productivity.
Many other team questions.
ONA provides insights into their “why” questions by illustrating the ways people are connecting within their teams and across teams. No two companies or workgroups are the same because they are made of up differing groups of people, personalities, biases, backgrounds, and expectations. An ONA assessment helps executive managers understand their teams better, see what targeted programs might be most effective, and align individual strengths with the goals of the organization through building stronger employee relationships.
Applications of ONA
ONA can be specifically helpful as a starting point to understanding employee strengths in influencing culture, adoption of change, uncovering innovation and creating team cohesion. Ongoing measurement is helpful to see progress and adjust programs to fit the organic needs of employee relationships over time. Some examples of ONA use cases include the following:
Diversity and Inclusion – To see how organization are integrating new employees and enabling them to participate in the most productive ways that are beneficial to the employee and the company. Finding inclusive employees can benefit this enormously. Inclusion creates higher employee satisfaction and lowers attrition, especially among diverse employee groups.
Transformation Efforts – To identify key employees that can help facilitate change within teams. This is recognizable through employee interactions, where highly trusted employees can help create less anxiety among other workers and accelerate important projects.
M&A Success – Finding influencers within both organizations that can align and work together is key to integration success. Too often, new organization are created from an org chart perspective without regard for
Content Curation and Targeting – The needs of specific individuals and teams can be assessed through ONA. Needs within organizations can vary extensively by individual employees and workgroups. Therefore, blanketed programs are marginally effective as a whole when addressing the entire organization. By understanding strengths and weakness through ONA, information and training can be targeted to the areas of a company where most needed.
Succession Planning – ONA provides a “peer-to-peer 360 review” that is valuable in picking the next generation of leaders for an organization, based on attributes that are specifically needed. Finding these employees is extremely difficult when only relying on executive perspective and performance reviews.
Unconscious Bias – Using ONA to compare diversity group attributes and positioning on relationship maps can easily identify unconscious biases of the organization. These include disproportionate representations of specific groups and under represented employees in areas where they can add value through their informal network strengths.
Software solutions for building ONA maps are available widely today with the ability to implement sophisticated mathematical model and algorithms with machine learning, AI, and advanced graphical tools. Gaining the benefit of ONA generally comes from the following tools and/or partnerships.
DIY Software – Companies can buy access to ONA software and ingest their own company data to create maps and metrics. The interpretation of this information is often left to a Data Scientist or other technologist with deep understanding of ONA. This takes ONA into a much more sophisticated area of the company and requires special staffing to use the tools. The use of DIY ONA is risky outside the hands of specialists.
Passive ONA Technology – Passive ONA is the collection of employee relationship and connection information through email, SLACK, or other communications channels. Employees are not aware of the data collection and the software counts connections, types and may even use natural language processing to try to ascertain the nature of the communications. This approach is limited to having to infer “why” answers without asking employees directly.
Active ONA Technology – Active ONA is the collection of employee relationship and connection information through asking employees via a survey. Employees are asked to list several employees with whom they interact based on dimensions of interaction like trust, mentorship, and knowledge, among others suitable for a specific company. This information provides more definitive answers to the “why” questions and helps to more precisely shape action plans.
Consulting Firms – Most major consulting firms offer ONA in their suite of HR tech, People Analytics, or Org Design offerings. These services use sophisticated tools and experts are available to consult on projects. Projects are typically very expensive and take months to complete.
Complete and Consolidated ONA Solutions – OrgAnalytix provides complete solution for ONA, that consolidates ONA technology with consulting, content curation and maximizing the effectiveness of existing organizational improvement initiatives like D&I, Engagement, Culture, and Transformation. The company provides a SaaS-based tool that can be used by clients or consulting firms for specific project. OA can also provide in-depth consulting to isolate organizational issues and drive specific solutions. OrgAnalytix has taken ONA technology, AI, and Machine Learning to an easy-to-use platform that incorporates clear graphics, metrics and insights. Data can be collected through surveys or ingested from passive systems or People Analytics sources
Get Started Now!
Take the mystery out of ONA but talking with OrgAnalytix about your company, its unique characteristics, your existing initiatives and your goals. We can create a custom solution for you that fits your budget and provides valuable information to improve the dynamics within and between your teams.