Organizational Network Analysis


Interpreting an ONA
Conducting an ONA
Business Applications
Supporting Alliances
Ensuring Strategy
Top Leadership
Networks Across Core
Promoting Innovation
Post-Merger / Large
Scale Change
Communities of


Conducting an Organizational Network Analysis

1. Identify a strategically important group.

  • The first step is to identify a group within the organization where investments made to improve collaboration have the potential to yield a significant payback either strategically or operationally. We typically look for groups crossing functional, physical, hierarchical and organizational lines because networks often fragment at these junctures.

2. Assess meaningful and actionable relationships.

  • The second step is to identify relationships that will meaningfully reveal a group's effectiveness as well as be actionable for managers once results are disclosed. Most companies are keenly interested in work-related collaboration. As a result, we almost always map information flow. We can also look at relationships that reveal the information sharing potential of a network, decision-making or power relations, or those that reveal well-being and supportiveness in a network such as friendship or trust networks.
  • Organizational network information can be obtained in a variety of ways, from tracking e-mails to observing people over time. Often the most efficient means is to administer a 10-20 minute survey designed to assess relationships within and outside of a group.

3. Visually and quantitatively analyze results.

  • Once the data have been collected, it can be analyzed using a network software package. There are a variety of different packages available, some of which combine drawing functionality with quantitative analysis and some of which specialize in one or the other. For more information on visual assessment see the interpreting a network diagram section.

4. Create meaningful feedback sessions.

  • We typically conduct feedback sessions in two phases. In the first half of the workshop, we present an overview of network analysis to orient the participants, and then provide a summary presentation highlighting important points from the analysis of the specific group. The second half of the workshop consists of breakout sessions with smaller groups that brainstorm ways to promote appropriate connectivity and ensure that organizational design, culture and leadership will not push the network back to ineffective patterns. These subgroups then debrief the larger group, and ideas are catalogued for action planning. In this process, it is always important to focus on what can be done to improve the effectiveness of the group. Rather than questioning why someone or some department is peripheral or central, it is more constructive to focus on how the organization can overcome unproductive patterns.

5. Assess progress and effectiveness.

  • Conducting an organizational analysis of a group indicates the level of connectivity only at a specific point in time. Repeating this process after six to nine months can reveal whether appropriate change has occurred in the network. It is also a good idea to track objective measures of performance over time.

Interpreting a Network Diagram