The shape and density of the network
The first thing we’re looking for, is if there is one connected network or several ‘islands’. The vast majority of network diagrams are coherent, in which all respondents directly or indirectly are connected to each other. Translated to the everyday life of the organizations, it gives information about if the units in your organization is connected, or if there are units, that work completely separated from the rest. We very rarely observe this. In organizations where you do work very siloed, most often there is coherence at management level.
An organizational network diagram usually has a round or elongated shape. The rule of thumb is, that the more around the more connected the cooperation in the organization. And vice versa: the more elongated the more distributed they work.
The density of the network also provides good information. In an organizational network diagram, the density consists of the number of relationships e.g. how many other people have each person chosen to point at. The simplest way to assess the density is using the average outdegree. Outdegree is the number of people, each person has pointed at.
If each person can point to a maximum of 10 people in the questionnaire, it gives a good insight if 3 or 7 has been selected. We see both. An organization that works closely together and has a strong internal network often has an average outdegree of over 7.
A thinner network is not necessarily bad. An organization made up of specialists who need to work focused, can be most effective if each employee has relatively few to interact with in day-to-day work.