Mapping the value of employee collaboration

Collaboration between employees in global, knowledge-based industries is more important than ever. First, companies must identify their knowledge networks and analyse the economic benefits and costs they create.

by The McKinsey Quarterly
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

Once they have this information they can take action to improve corporate performance by, for instance, replicating high-performing networks. Companies use a variety of tools to map their collaborative networks, such as tracking emails, monitoring employees and carrying out small questionnaires.

One engineering firm discovered that a small number of engineers and managers accounted for 35% of all the collaboration within one group: they shared expertise. The company used this information to connect other specialists together and raised its construction revenue from $80 million to $275 million in a year.

Network analysis can help a company transform its management practices. For instance, a technology firm discovered that its high-performing salespeople were not just collaborative, but that they were also more responsive to requests, amenable to constructive criticisms and enthusiastic team players.

The company overhauled its incentive programme to encourage these characteristics. The benefits of collaboration can be illustrated by the example of a petrochemical business which formed 20 networks of 50 to several hundred employees, focused on work areas. One 60-person network alone contributed $5 million in savings.

Mapping the value of employee collaboration
Robert L Cross, Roger D martin and Leigh M Weiss,
The McKinsey Quarterly, No 3, 2006

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