Your organizational chart matters. A little.
In a lot of ways it does not. Ideas, information, trust, influence, opportunity and other resources move through networks of relationships without necessarily adhering to what the org chart says. Social network analysis tools now allow us to make the invisible visible so that we can be more deliberate in our approach to networks. There are a couple of big opportunities here:
Good ideas often have social origins. Innovation is fueled by the exchange of ideas and perspectives and identities, and the accompanying creative tension. It is in this exchange that we have the opportunity to recombine and synthesize, generating brand new opportunities. By deliberately and proactively building networks we can create more of those valuable intersections.
Get folks really included. Hiring someone as an employee in your organization does not necessarily mean they are going to be included. Are employees able to get connected in the ways that they need to — regardless of age, title, gender, race, etc.? Can you be more intentional in helping employees to find their way into the networks of relationships that they need to thrive? I see a lot of organizations that have engagement and retention rates that vary by race, age and gender. Underneath that are substantial differences in the size, reach and makeup of the social networks that people are connected to.
“Where do good ideas come from? That is simple … from differences. Creativity comes from unlikely juxtapositions. The best way to maximize differences is to mix ages, cultures and disciplines.”
-Nicolas Negroponte, founder MIT Media Lab
What do the networks of relationships look like in your organization? Are there opportunities to build new bridges in your organization? Is there a lot of overlap and interconnectivity in your organization, or is there a lot of silos and segregation? Are there opportunities to bring new voices into existing conversations and decision making processes?