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  • Writer's picturePavooq Team

How Can Organizational Network Analysis Help Teams Work Together More Effectively?

Updated: Dec 26, 2022

Great work is always done in groups.

Consider your favorite sports team's accomplishments, vaccine research collaborations, or local healthcare teams. Despite the fact that many management and HR systems are structured around the person, there have been significant achievements. This is a problem for executives who are in charge of ensuring that their companies have the appropriate infrastructure, tools, and culture.

A wave of mergers, acquisitions, and restructuring will occur as industries adjust to the Digital-Covid Age. Several studies have shown that integration and change projects have a high failure rate, thus it's critical to consider ways to guarantee that objectives are met.


We don't know what our organizations will look like in the future, but we do know that work will be done by a variety of professionals with a variety of employment connections ranging from employees to freelancers. This work may be done in virtual teams outside of typical hierarchical systems at times.

What is the Future of Teamwork?

The days of designing organizations by changing boxes on PowerPoint presentations and keeping track of finances on an Excel spreadsheet are long gone.

We need a new set of tools to study team dynamics as work shifts away from talent hierarchies and toward teams of collaborative networks. To inspire, organize, and align networks of teams, exchange information, and work together, leaders require new techniques. Top-down techniques to command and control will not work in many scenarios.

The formation and operation of teams are not always predictable. They may not go through the typical storming, norming, and performing stages (Tuckman), but there is a growing amount of research evidence that some collaborative elements improve organizational performance.

Tactical training interventions, team coaching, and clarity regarding purpose, objectives, and behavior are all used by successful teams. High-performing teams take time to think and have successful one-on-one sessions on a regular basis.

Many individuals, including hourly specialists, platform employees, live-streamers, and artists, labor outside of organizational frameworks, resulting in an increasingly decentralized workforce. These dispersed employees are forging new partnerships and collaborations rather than working in isolation.

This trend of decentralization is being accompanied by a rise in remote work, creating a compelling need for businesses to understand and manage internal cooperation dynamics efficiently.

A new collection of tools and platforms is being created to construct a new work infrastructure. These include decentralized autonomous organizations, peer-to-peer platforms, and industry standards in verified digital credentials (DAOs).

Organizational Network Analysis Insights: From Organization Charts to Organizational Network Analysis

In recent years, more employee attitude research has been included in workforce technology. Despite the fact that this is a more sophisticated version of the annual employee engagement survey, it still relies on responses from a disgruntled workforce.

Employee behavior is another useful piece of data to look at when dealing with business problems using Organizational Network Analysis (ONA). Moving away from static hierarchical company ideas, this strategy investigates the interactions between people in networks to discover patterns of collaboration. It reveals more useful patterns in network roles like core nodes, knowledge brokers, and network perimeter nodes.

Employees' feelings about their colleagues and ties inside the organization are the subject of 'Active ONA' surveys. This method might help you uncover informal influencers who aren't necessary at the top of the corporate ladder. Because informal leadership and influence are based on subjective viewpoints, we can only accurately identify informal influencers inside the company by interviewing employees directly.

'Active ONA' is the most significant tool here, as it aids ineffective onboarding, change management, and leadership development. Active ONA is supplemented by passive ONA, which provides a snapshot of an organization's collaborative networks at a certain point in time.

'Passive ONA' adds to the picture of how teams work by looking at communication patterns such as email meta-data from collaboration tools like Office 365. Monitoring a team's digital footprint on a regular basis may provide valuable information and has been shown to be beneficial in determining productivity and burnout risk.

Active vs Passive ONA. Source: Cognitive Talent Solutions

A mix of active ONA at the employee level and passive ONA at the aggregate level is excellent since it provides actionable insights while still safeguarding employees' privacy.

Any project that uses people analytics, including organizational network analysis, must follow strict ethical requirements. Any endeavor that jeopardizes employee confidence will jeopardize the project's objectives.

Active ONA is reasonably uncomplicated in terms of data protection since workers offer their permission while completing the survey.

Because each employee would have to expressly authorize for their information to be examined at an individual level in the case of passive ONA, it is more economical to execute the analysis solely at an aggregate level. When establishing a business case for a passive ONA deployment, organizations may protect workers' privacy while also speeding up the internal approval process.

What role does ONA play in the workplace?

Active ONA has also proved effective in onboarding by identifying informal leaders who may act as 'buddies' to new recruits, supporting them in swiftly acclimating to their new roles, and increasing their overall employee experience. It's considerably more important to bring new team members up to speed on their tasks when the bulk of people work from home.

Another significant use of Active ONA is in change management, where informal leaders are positioned as early adopters to speed up the acceptance of the strategic change. For example, a 45,000-employee company employed Cognitive Talent Solutions' ONA technology to identify informal leaders who would function as super-users for a transformation initiative. As a result, the software was implemented more rapidly, and process improvements resulted in a $161,000 savings.

By tracking indications in an individual's digital footprint such as the proportion of talks outside of working hours, the percentage of unread messages, and the average response time, passive ONA may assist employers to estimate employee burnout risk.

Burnout Risk vs Productivity. Source: Cognitive Talent Solutions

Companies may use this strategy to predict potential employee burnout and, if required, implement mitigation measures. For example, a Fortune 500 biotech company produced a division-level overview displaying predictive and prescriptive data on burnout risk and productivity.

They combined Passive ONA's aggregate-level insights with Active ONA's individual-level insights. The company was able to monitor changes in the organization's internal collaborative dynamics in real-time. As a consequence, they were able to build more informed mitigation strategies and accelerate the strategy change's acceptability.

Looking into cooperation patterns in the context of mergers and acquisitions may also help identify areas where there are lower levels of trust. Understanding who the informal leaders are throughout the post-merger integration process might help you prevent or mitigate cultural issues.

One business benefit was the potential to help accelerate IT synergies by replacing obsolete systems with new consolidated systems. Following the integration, ONA may be able to aid businesses in identifying the degree of integration between legacy companies and the impact on their performance.

ONA has shown to be effective in terms of diversity and inclusion initiatives. Keeping track of organizational cooperation tendencies by gender, age, and ethnicity might highlight potential problem areas where the action is needed.

Network diversity insights. Source: Cognitive Talent Solutions

What Can Leaders Do To Assist Teams?

Leaders may take the following steps to better assist teams in their businesses.

Consider who is most suited to design work, which might range from staff to suppliers, automation, or freelancers. Keep track of the best mix of people, contractors, or equipment for completing a set of tasks.

Examine what will boost team performance in your firm using a diverse range of information from your industry and related academic studies.

Examine new technological solutions, such as ONA, to help with onboarding, change management, leadership development, productivity, burnout, mergers and acquisitions, and diversity and inclusion concerns.

HR will increasingly concentrate on developing talent networks, reviewing workforce tools, and measuring organizational success in the future.

The next generation of successful businesses will adapt to changes in the workforce and give solutions to help our companies' foundational elements: our people.


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