Trusted connections

Technology is driving a renewed appreciation of the importance of networks as an essential part of business success.

by Karen Stephenson, World Business

In any organisation there are two parallel universes. First, there is the world of corporate authority from which formal rules and bureaucratic procedures unfold. The second is the world of trusted networks, which, research has shown, supports productivity and innovation. The former is characterised by the organogram (a diagram of a company's hierarchy); the latter is not. Executives and managers understand the former and endorse it, reasoning that if the organogram was good enough for them, then why bother with networks?

But networks are enormously important. Who makes a project succeed? Who stays and who is transferred? Who's next in line? The rub is that managers are much less likely to map out these networks because they are based on trust, which is unrecorded and unrecognised. If we measure these network patterns, we will discover that there are three key archetypes. These subtle influencers have a firm grip on buried organisational knowledge.

When managers set the new information about networks against their organogram, they may end up rethinking how they deploy people within their organisation. For example, have you ever been baffled as to why people in the same place cannot make things happen whereas those working at opposite ends of the world, often without the latest technology, overcome obstacles?

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