Last week, I was at a regional project management conference, the PMI Mile Hi Annual Symposium in Denver, Colorado. I participated as part of the EnterPlicity vendor exhibit, but was also able to catch some highlights of the symposium.
One of the workshops was on the topic of organizational network analysis. It was a case study presented by Greg Tornrose and Micki Nelson. This blog deals with tools that can be used to support your project management processes, and this analysis tool can be an important tool in your project tools arsenal.
What is organizational network analysis? Many times we look at an organization in terms of its organizational chart - the formal staff breakdown. However, that is often (if not most) times not how an organization actually works. Many times there are key people that hold the key information. An organizational network analysis identifies the communication paths to that information, who the key information holders are, and how work actually gets done. It identifies how far away everyone is to the information that they need. In other words, "Mary" may be low on the organizational chart, but she may be a central piece of the organization in terms of the information that she has that everyone else needs.
This is one of Rob Cross's specialties. While searching for more information, I found a nice page by Rob that explains organizational network analysis far better than I just did. You can read it here. If you want to see the Powerpoint presentation from the conference workshop, you can find it here.
I encourage you to read up on this. Two key points that I see:
1. We need to be proactive about the flow of information from the right people to the right people. After all, that is what project tools are all about, correct? But if we do not know who holds the information and what information is actually important to get work done, the best project tool in the world will lose its value.
2. We need to provide the right tools to provide the desired information flow. In other words, even if we know what the information flow needs to be, it does not good if there are not good tools to enable that information flow.
This is yet another point in the case that project tools, combined with good process and objectives, are invaluable when implemented strategically, methodically, and with a purpose.