Data collection: What data is needed to draw an organizational network?
Overall, there are two types of data that can be used in an ONA: passive and active.
Passive data is data that already exists in your organization. It’s data from email systems, calendar bookings, skype chats, HR master data etc. The advantage in using passive data is that it is already there. It does not take extra effort to collect, it just needs to be pulled out. In addition, changes over time can be monitored continuously without having to re-collect.
But then again; only the information you already have in the systems are available. Relationships that do not take place through an IT system cannot be measured.You can see who’s participating in the same meetings, but not if they interact at the meetings. You can’t see who meets at the coffee machines or who’s having lunch with whom, and You don’t get insight into who speaks in the hallway.
There might also be a GDPR-issue in using this type of data. You as minimum should ensure that employees have given consent, before data is used for this purpose. Apart from the legal obligation, I would say that there is also an ethical challenge in using data coming from an internal and sometimes informal communication to analyze the network. You risk exposing relationships that the organization does not need to know of.
Active data is data collected through a questionnaire. Input will be a snapshot of the organization when data is collected, but in return you can ask quite accurately, and thus getting a clearer answer. The downside is that it will require a smaller take time from the employees. Questionnaires must be designed and sent out, and employees must be informed. The latter part is important, since the quality of the analysis is ultimately dependent on a high response rate and honest answers. So, an open communication with plenty opportunity to ask clarifying questions is essential.
When using active data, a GDPR compliant consent can be obtained as part of the questionnaire.
What to ask? The absolute simplest is to ask people to name the 5-10 people they work with on a daily basis. It provides the basic insight into the professional cooperation of the organization. You can also ask for who they go to for professional sparring, who gives energy and motivation, and who one uses to talk about a little more private things like hobbies, children, etc.
Whatever you choose, it is important to think through what you want out of the analysis, so that the questions are precisely formulated.
How many respondents can there be?
You should be a minimum of 12-15 people before it makes sense to do a network analysis. In principle, there is no upper limit, but the result varies according to size. From 15 to about 100 participants, you get a clear picture of each person’s role in the organization. If you are more than apr. 150, the overview becomes more general. You will be able to see overall trends and movements but should zoom in on single departments or areas if you need to have all the details.
Computing: How to draw the charts?
An organizational network will always have a three-dimensional form, since relationships often cross-section between people. Imagine 5 people who all relate equally to each other. If you imagine the network floating in the air it will look like a ball.
If it is to be drawn flat, it will look like this: