Harvard Business Review Press
June 2, 2004)
In today’s flatter organizations, productivity and efficiency demanding effective collaboration within and across functional, physical, and hierarchical boundaries. Though often concerned with external relationships, executives generally pay little attention to assessing and supporting linkages among employees within their own organizations. These “invisible” social networks don’t appear on any formal organization chart – yet significantly affect performance and innovation the problem is: how can leaders manage what they can’t see?
While companies know that social networks are important, Rob Cross and Andrew Parker argue that most managers don’t understand how these networks really work. Because of this, a great deal of time and money are wasted on blanket approaches to promote collaboration that yield disappointing results. Based on their in-depth study of more than sixty informal networks within organizations around the world, Cross and Parker outline a targeted approach that can help managers find, access, and support the social networks most critical to success.
The Hidden Power of Social Networks offers the most comprehensive application of social network analysis – a technique that reveals who is connected to whom in large, distributed groups – to the work of managers and leaders. The book outlines a host of specific and inexpensive actions at the individual, group, and organizational levels that can help promote vibrant employee networks by:
- Bridging strategically important disconnects between departments or organizations
- Improving a network’s ability to sense and respond to opportunities
- Aligning the organizational context to energize and support networks
- Identifying overburdened employees and redistributing workloads
- Eliminating information bottlenecks
- Recognizing and supporting key “connectors”
- Pulling in peripheral people who represent untapped expertise
Whether you are overseeing a department or a company, a work force scattered across the country or around the globe, this eye-opening book shows how to leverage social networks to create a more productive, efficient, and innovative organization.
Rob Cross is an assistant professor at the University of Virginia’s McIntyre School of Commerce and a research consultant to IBM’s Knowledge and Organizational Performance Forum and Babson College’s Working Knowledge Group.
Andrew Parker is a research consultant with IBM’s Knowledge and Organizational Performance Forum.