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1. IDENTIFY A SMALL CORE GROUP OF CHANGE AGENTS
Change starts with a small group of committed individuals. But how do you pick the right group? Firstly, they should fit the purpose and values of your organization. In other words, the core group must have true ownership and understanding of what drives the organizational change and represent that in the broadest sense. Secondly, it’s important that these individuals are trusted by the colleagues and serve as connectors in your organization. That’s why you should choose them based on their interactivity scores in your organization. If you don’t have a precise map of your organization’s interactivity and network, JOIN21 can help you establish a Baseline.
2. GROW THE NETWORK OF STAKEHOLDERS IN THE PROCESS
The big question of driving a change in an organization – is a question of ownership, of who actually owns and drives the change process. The short answer is the stakeholders. Of course, spreading the core group is not only about quantity, but it is also about quality. Over time network analyses JOIN21 has done showed us that each organization has super-connected individuals who drive change and again, those who use information and power only to push their own agenda. Having clear criteria for who you choose to include in the first and second round of implementation will determine the outcome and success of your change efforts. Don’t rely on your hunch here, use data instead.
3. DEFINE CLEAR KPIs OF WHERE YOU WANT TO GO & HOW TO MEASURE IT
If you want a change, it’s imperative that you are clear about what you want to achieve. Having a clear purpose for the change process will let you create a coherent story of where you are coming from and a clear target of where you are going. Change is in behavior and the crux of the change is transforming how we spend time, who we talk to and what we focus on and do. Managing change is breaking out of old patterns and establishing new ones. This is where data can help you immensely, and JOIN21 relies heavily on that. Using pattern recognition and machine learning can ease the analysis of the change patterns that occur over time and detect whether the patterns are changing in the direction that drives your goals.
4. DEFINE WHAT COMES AFTER THE CHANGE
When the goals are reached, it’s not unusual for an organization to experience fatigue. This is not the time to set out and define new, more ambitious goals, but to let the organization re-establish a sense of stability and harvest the potential benefits of the change. Define a timeframe of 3 to 6 months where the focus is on optimization and efficiency. This is also the best way to measure the effects of the change. The traditional numbers like revenue, costs, customer satisfaction, etc. is one way to measure them. Another way is to look at the actual behavior of the organization, to track how people have changed interactions and observe which network patterns serve the change well, and which don’t. In the past, this analysis was nearly impossible to do. However, today’s tech has allowed us to apply advanced network and AI-driven software that help you get a true, real-time X-ray view of how your organization works from week to week and month to month.
Take our free, online mini-course. You'll get six educational videos explaining the future of leadership.
Take our free, online mini-course. You'll get six educational videos explaining the future of leadership.
1. DON’T FORGET YOUR SILENT HEROS
You won’t hear them on your online meetings and won’t see them in structures, but they are there. Identify your isolated employees. We’re talking about those valuable individuals in your organization that are isolated, hesitant to initiate meetings or take time on an official agenda. Sometimes they are the most valuable employees when it comes to getting things done. Through our Network Leadership Analysis, JOIN21 has documented how high-capacity individuals can get isolated, and their potential value sub-optimized. We find that this pattern is present in all organizations and in the age of remote work this negative pattern can be even more prevailing.
2. STRENGTHEN YOUR INFORMAL CULTURE
Supplement formal meetings with open invitations for Q&A that build interconnectedness. Sometimes having an open meeting with a clear purpose, but without a strict agenda is extremely valuable. In a remote age, many meetings have become much more efficient. Now it’s time to hold an inefficient meeting. Have a biweekly meeting with your team that just has a general question like: “How can we improve customer satisfaction in the remote age? or “What are the hidden talents of our organizations?”. These questions are at the heart of Network Leadership. Opening for Q&As like this will give a feeling of belonging and strengthening informal bonds across the organization.
3. IDENTIFY YOUR BOTTLENECKS
Do you know the average answer time on emails, messages or communication in your organizations? Do you know where good ideas go to die? In a world where communications are more digital, immediate communications is more important than ever. Network analysis can identify when, who and where these bottlenecks are. Sometimes we are aware of where these bottlenecks are but getting a real network analysis can pinpoint these bottlenecks without subjective feelings getting in the way. A good place to start is asking the question of whether your colleagues are getting back to you with critical decisions and information fast enough. If you want real data, we’ve got the tool just for it.
4. INSPIRE KNOWLEDGE FLOW
Using digital tools to keep in touch is a no brainer. Utilizing the full benefit and power of your tools is something else. Network Leadership has shown that informal learning in organizations is the key to efficiently spreading knowledge and implementing change. The watercooler moment can happen online as well, and one way to do it is to make micro-learning a norm. These refer to quick, specific how-to courses led by your “digital heroes” – tech-savvy individuals of your organization. Motivate them to teach others how to cooperate on a document, how to make groups efficient, how to make the most of a video call, or how to utilize x-y-z in Microsoft Teams. This will increase their sense of value, create new organizational bonds and strengthen your network, even long after the micro learning-meeting has occurred.
More than ever, communication, collaboration, information sharing and decision making are key business drivers. If you could take a moment to learn how your organization really works across formal and informal relationships, and pick the tools you need to make it perform better, would you?
That is what CEO Trond Voll of Mobit, a distributor of IT and mobile solutions for the business market, decided to do.
“As a leader of 800 employees across the country, I need a way to better understand my network and keep track of what’s important to each employee”, Voll says.
The challenge: When the chain-of-command doesn’t tell you what you need
With 150 retail points across the country, Mobit’s central value proposition had been its local knowledge and ability to make customers’ digital lives hassle-free. As the company grew and became more distributed, however, so did the expertise that had given them the edge over larger competitors.
For Trond Voll, traditional chain-of-command leadership theory came up short: As Mobit grew, it had become increasingly difficult to understand the organization actually worked.
How well do his people authentically communicate? How effectively do they collaborate, share information and make decisions? And how well do they do these things if faced with adversity or stress? If Mobit could move its organization up just a few notches on these values, what impact would that have on business?
Trond Voll’s wish list was ambitious:
– Increase connectivity between experts and managers.
– Onboard new employees after the merger, fast.
– Improve collaboration with key partners and customers.
– Gain insights on how the dealer chain works to utilize the potential better.
These are exactly the things JOIN21’s tools let you see, explains JOIN21 Co-Founder Jan Taug.
“Network analysis helps you do a body scan of your business and gives you a crystal clear view on how you are stacking up on these values. It lets you use that knowledge to drill down and see what each and every person in the network is contributing. And then it provides really simple tools and measures to let you push those values up”, Taug says.
“JOIN21 has the perfect technology for that, and it is customized to your needs. It gives you a map. The map shows your silos, bottlenecks and outliers. Your experts and go-to people. And it will probably surprise you.”
The solution: Lifting the veil on the network
With its Baseline tool, JOIN21 helped Mobit perform organizational network analysis. Data points were gathered from a bespoke company-wide survey, as well as from a series of workshops. The data was visualized in a network map.
This is what Mobit looks like as a network:
Here is a quick explainer: Each dot represents an employee. The arrows between dots show whom each employee consults or sends information to, the line’s thickness representing the frequency. The larger the dot, the larger the volume of requests from other people.
These are some of the things they discovered in the map:
Figure 2. Some central people drive communication.
Figure 3. (a) Key integrators make sure their organization or department is connected to the organization. (b) Organizational silos that could benefit from setting knowledge in motion.
– Some individuals are so central in Mobit’s organization that they risk being bottlenecks, slowing the flow of communication – and innovation. Communication flow could probably be improved if more people communicate directly rather than relying on these pressured people.
– Some groups of people communicate little with the rest of the network. To stay connected, these silos are completely dependent on a few crucial individuals who serve as connectors, also called integrators and gatekeepers. The expertise in silos is utilized better by integrating the whole group into the network.
“It certainly looks nothing like our formal chain of command” says CEO Trond Voll. He was surprised at what was uncovered:
“JOIN21’s network map visualized exactly where Mobit’s problems lay and how to increase efficiency and the flow of knowledge across the organization”, Voll says.
The best about this: Once you see the problem, you can implement solutions.
The solution: Get some tools to work smarter
After the insights were explained at a company-wide workshop, Mobit and JOIN21 implemented a ‘Way of Work’ program to boost interaction between people, managers, dealers and departments across the regular chains of command. Some of the things they did:
– Implemented a collaboration platform (Workplace) to improve knowledge flow and allow employees and leaders to connect more, work smarter and perform better.
– Charged people with high centrality (formal and informal leaders) with leading the program.
– Created smaller ‘expert communities’ in Workplace based on the analysis, to boost domain knowledge across the retail chain.
– Set up a designated management community in Workplace to increase value creation in key areas.
The results: Increased engagement, information flow and productivity.
Looking back, Mobit CEO Trond Voll says the process led to some very real benefits:
“As a result of these insights, the merger was smooth. We gained a tremendous understanding of how communication develops in our network, and what network functionality means in real life”, Voll says, highlighting major effects:
– Increased engagement, knowledge flow and collaboration across dealerships
– More customers due to connecting dealers and expertise
– Stronger relationships with customers, partners and suppliers
– Smarter and more motivated cross-functional teams and projects
«With the help from the organizational network analysis, we can now see the connections. This has been of great value to us going forward. It has allowed us to play to our strengths and challenge much larger competitors in the market», Voll says.
In 2019, two years after the initial project, Mobit decided to perform a deeper analysis of the merger and how the organization had been able to drive collaboration after the JOIN21 process. This will be the topic of a forthcoming article.
WHY IS REMOTE WORK HARD TO LEAD?
The Covid-19 pandemic has incentivized organizations everywhere to embrace the long-awaited future of remote work.
But as employees are logging on to video meetings and testing new collaboration platforms, the traditional leadership models that seek to understand organizations as chains of command, corner offices and formal reporting relationships have taken a hit.
This has highlighted a long-standing debate about the two ways to lead an organization.
THE TWO LEADERSHIP MODELS
TRADITIONAL LEADERSHIP MODELS
The traditional approach to leadership taught at most business schools means you have to understand the organization as a chain of command and a formal who-reports-to-who hierarchy.
As Covid-19 struck and the world turned to remote work, traditional leadership stayed primarily concerned with optimizing the way information should flow along formally defined chains of command. Hence, they focused on daily stand-up meetings between superiors and subordinates, checking the task list and staying safely within the boundaries of more authoritarian, individualistic, top-down management.
THE NETWORK LEADERSHIP MODEL
The academic discipline of Network Leadership, on the other hand, lifts the veil of hierarchy to see who people actually talk to in the organization, who sits on important information and who is isolated or under-utilized.
With the ongoing Remote Work Revolution, some leaders have rather seen the need to inspire a bottom-up approach to decision-making, distributing power and making more information broadly available through cross-department communication on clouds, collaboration tools and chat boxes. Network Leadership is their tool.
THE BENEFITS OF NETWORK LEADERSHIP IN THE REMOTE ERA
More than ever, communication, collaboration, information sharing and decision making are key business drivers.
And especially being able to do those things in stressful and uncertain times.
If you could take this moment to learn how your organization really works across formal and informal relationships and pick the tools you need to make it perform better, would you?
How well would you say the people in your organization authentically communicate? How effectively do they collaborate and share information? How effectively do they make decisions? And how well do they do these things if faced with adversity or stress?
If you could move your organization up just a few notches on these values, what impact would that have on your business?
That is what the Network Leadership model helps you do.
Network Leadership helps you do a body scan of your business and gives you a crystal clear view on how you are stacking up on these values. It lets you use that knowledge to drill down and see what each and every person in the network is contributing. And then it provides really simple tools and measures to let you push those values up.
How important would that be to you?
JOIN21 has the perfect technology for that, and it is perfectly customized to your needs. It gives you a map. The map shows your silos, bottlenecks and outliers. Your experts and go-to people. It may surprise you.
And it certainly looks nothing like your chain of command.
The results can be fast or slow, but they always show:
pinpoint the real experts and informal leaders
select the right tools and the right roles for just the right people
discover how to build a motivating, engaging and open culture
make knowledge flow across gender, age, ethnicity and other demographics
retain key staff and prevent work frustrations
understand how to adapt to mergers and acquisitions, onboarding and other shifts
SWITCHING TO NETWORK LEADERSHIP
JOIN21 teaches you Network Leadership in 3 main steps:
Toegther, we gather and analyze your organization’s behaviour to visualize how it works as a network.
We help you understand potential changes and implement the relevant tools, fast.
Observe the organization’s real-time performance on crucial areas like collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Digitalization does not bring results. Digital solutions are merely tools that can help us work smarter and make the organization more agile. However, to know which tools you need and where to implement them, first you need to understand how your organization actually works. Without insight as the laying groudnd, there’s no building a good plan.
One look at a network
One of the key insights any organization can get is how their employees, partners and customers work as a network, rather than a formal, hierarchal organization. In front of you are the network maps of one Norwegian organization, JOIN21 created upon gathering data points from surveys and the organization’s existing communication tools.
It looks complicated at first glance, but upon closer look or with an expert to guide you through, they reveal deep insights that can lead to strategic shifts. First things first, each dot represents an employee. The arrows between dots shows who each employee consults or sends information to. The thickness of the line represents the frequency of consultation. The larger the dot, the larger the volume of requests from other people. Knowing that, let’s dig deeper.
Silos and speed bumps
The network map of this organization reveals that a few individuals are very central – to the extent that they could be bottlenecks that slow down the communication and workflow in the organization.
This means the company could improve its information flow if more people communicated directly instead of relying on these few people. The map also reveals several small groups with little connection to the rest of the network.
These are so-called silos, isolated groups in the organization, linked only through a few individuals who serve as gatekeepers. It is not uncommon to find entire departments, branches or even sister companies working as completely isolated silos. This means they are cut off from the information sources, unable to learn from best practices, company expertise, and basically condemned to repeat the mistakes of others. On a company level, it costs money, time and makes the organization less likely to innovate or even keep productivity level competitive.
Improve by insight
In an increasingly interconnected world, it is important to combine hierarchies and networks, understanding both the formal and informal relations at play in your organization. That’s the key area where Network leadership can give you valuable insight on how the organization can thrive and fulfill the full potential of its employees. In the case of this organization, they found ways to grow based on network insight. Once they saw the blind spots and wasted resources in their network, it became clear that they should increase interaction between different departments and experts in order to share knowledge more efficiently. We advised them to implement technological solutions such as cloud services, bots or collaboration platform could help communication across departments. This improved workflow, boosted innovations (thanks to matching different know-hows), increased productivity and cut costs and time spent on repetitive tasks.
The network focus may be intimidating to some leaders because it challenges the traditional, hierarchical view. The truth is that these networks exist whether one sees them or not. If they are invisible, they are hard to influence. Once revealed, however, they unleash a flood of potential. It is in the network of people and their relationships that knowledge lives, trust grows, and work gets done.
The Scandinavian advantage
No organization is the same and every network will look different and ask for different leadership decisions. But from a value perspective, leaders who understand networks have a unique advantage compared to those who cling to the old, hierarchical power structures. That’s exactly where the Scandinavian leadership model has advantages. Its inclusivity makes for a perfect basis for network leadership. With good algorithms, new technology and smart collaboration tools, Scandinavian organizations can gain unique insights and get ahead of the vast majority of companies worldwide.
Photo: Source = http://www.flickr.com/photos/globalite/6625827591/
Simply the best
If you saw Barcelona’s humiliating defeat of Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League Final, you knew you had witnessed a new and winning way of playing the game. That calendar year, coach Pep Guardiola’s side won six buckets in dominating fashion. The team revolutionized the game with its possession-oriented game, short passes between players that were situated closely together, and immediate pressure on the opposition. This tiki-taka football inspired a new generation of managers.
Photo: Tsutomu Takasu, Flickr CC
More than shots and passes
To understand the team’s signature style, scientists have gone beyond analyzing the traditional metrics such as shots and passes. In a paper published in Nature, Spanish scientists Buldú, Busquets, Echegoyen and Seirullo used network science to explain the team’s dominance. Network science is the methodology of how any given entity spreads between nodes in a network. It has been applied to a range of phenomena such as the spread of a pandemic, war, fake news, forest fires and financial panics, but also the inner mechanics of success.
Network leadership and football enthusiasts ourselves, we bring you the conclusions of that article.
The network of Xavi
In the network drawn up by Buldú and colleagues, each player is represented by a node. A link is created every time players pass the ball, becoming thicker with each pass. You can also see the player’s position on the field. By isolating groups of 50 passes, the analysis uncovers how a given game evolves. Certain players are more ‘central’. And certain patterns of play are more common. Barcelona’s famous passing triangles are examples of those patterns.
Beldú and colleagues generated passing networks for every team in the 380 games played in the 2009-10 La Liga season. The paper explains how network measures such as the clustering coefficient could determine that triplets of players pass the ball far better in Barcelona than in any other team. The average shortest pass through the team is shorter, and the strength of the network (the so-called eigenvalue of the connectivity network) is much higher.
By analyzing the evolving 50-pass networks you can see how the team’s centroid – its average field position – changes throughout the game: Barcelona’s centroid is higher up the pitch and much more stable than the competition’s. The team’s ratio of advance shows a much higher likelihood of horizontal passes, meaning they pass the ball back and forth looking for attacking opportunities. Xavi, the brilliant midfielder, had the highest centrality of any player.
Greatness as a network
The researchers also found the network metrics that enhance the probability of scoring or admitting a goal. The data showed that not all teams behave in the same way, and how Guardiola organized his team differently – including the team’s clustering coefficient, shortest-path length, largest eigenvalue of the adjacency matrix, algebraic connectivity and centrality distribution.
This way of analyzing an organization can also be applied to business. In the illustration below, we have added a small company network for the sake of comparison. Xavi’s centrality in Barcelona is parallel to a CEO’s centrality in a company. For CEOs, this position can also be linked with a need to control everything, which is why CEOs are as likely to be blockers as playmakers.
Can network analysis uncover a team’s weaknesses?
«The likelihood that Barcelona will concede a goal increases with the dispersion of players around the team’s centroid – in other words, goals happen when the players spread out. That suggests an Achilles’ heel that other teams could attempt to exploit», says Technology Review in an article on the research.
Network analysis, of course, can not be used to simply copy Barcelona’s strategy and success. In any network, understanding culture and implementation are crucial. However, it is easy to imagine the many ways network analysis can add interesting dimensions to understanding sports. Technology Review speculates how you can discover the influence of single players on a game or how changing positions can influence a player’s performance. The popular Netflix series «The Last Dance» about Michael Jordan’s great Chicago Bulls teams of the Nineties, centers for a while around coach Phil Jackson’s famous triangles. It would be interesting to see network analysis applied to the NBA.
It is also easy to understand how this way to analyze an organization can be applied to business networks. Network leadership allows you to see the organization as a network of both formal and informal relations, allowing you to gauge the effectiveness of both internal and internal networks. It is what makes the organization tick and creates that occasional Barcelona magic.
– Defining a historic football team, Nature article
– Network science reveals the secrets of the world’s best soccer team, MIT Technology Review
– How Network Theory Is Revealing Unknown Patterns in Sports, MIT Technology Review
Two recent independent studies showed less than 10% of leaders worldwide see their organization as a network. Furthermore, research indicated that leaders go to on average of 1,7 people before they make an important decision. Often the only person they consult are themselves, and when they actually do talk to someone else, it is a person similar to them or one very close to them. This means they often seek confirmation, rather than real feedback. Down the line, this hierarchal approach to work robs the organization of any out-of-the-box thinking, innovation, but also productivity, agility and profit smart, collaborative working would bring.
It is in networks knowledge lives, trust is created, and work is done. 90% of leaders globally have never seen their organization as a network. It’s pretty scary when we know how connected the world has become and how organizations and workers need to work more distributed.
As this top-down leadership proved to be unsustainable during the recent pandemic crisis, researches, leaders and employees alike explore other ways of decision-making. Connecting different types of experts from different environments, departments or even organizations gives a more complex and thus realistic take on any issue. That collaborative stream can eventually save organizations millions simply by improving the quality of the decisions we make.
What makes a network good?
The current hypothesis is that leaders are good at managing information to make decisions and provide input on innovation and improvements. The question is what happens if leaders and employees systematically start to share unique knowledge with others. The connection between knowledge and value is pretty clear: by putting knowledge in motion, we create value. Our global network data shows this huge potential waiting to be released by those that embrace Network Leadership and the competitive advantages it creates. Every network comes with different roles, and each role can be used to organizations’ advantage or disadvantage. There are Integrators, people who connect two different teams: on the one side, it’s good they are there keeping teams together, but on the other, there’s a possibility they are actually blocking or slowing down the information flow.
The Centrals, central people in the network, are the ones many come to for information. They could be too central to make the work efficient, but could also used as the ones who will influence others and spread the desired behavior.
This means there’s no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to networks. Only by digging deeper for insights and analyzing all factors we can design leadership model that fulfills the potential of people and organization as a whole. When we talk about creating a more connected workforce, digitalization comes first to mind.
What is digitization really?
Digitalization is about using digital tools to form an agile and smart way of working, with better services internally and for customers, and ultimately better results. However, these results leaders crave for do not come with simply installing the new technology, but from with teaching people what this novelty could bring for them personally. In its essences digitalization should provide clear benefits for the individual, as much as it does eventually the organization. We’re talking about making their jobs easier, more successful, open to new knowledge and new people, and ultimately more fulfilling. Another important point is that digitalization should start with the leaders themselves, the ones who have built the silos, and often thrive by being on top of the hierarchy. They are often comfortable with a hierarchic structure because it is predictable and easy to lead. But on the other hand, it is the hierarchy that prevents information to flow easily, knowledge to be shared and teams to be truly innovative. If leaders are ordering digitalization projects, while refusing to give up the chain of command and their own seat at the top, we have bad news: those projects are doomed to fail.
Where to start?
The first step is always facing what is. Using data points to see how your organization really works means you are basing your work on facts, not on opinions or old ways of work. JOIN21 has a tool that does just that. Many leaders in both giants like Tenor and SMEs like Digital Norway said it has completely changed the way they see their staff and their processes and set them on a journey to adapt to the future way of working. If that isn’t worth exploring, we don’t know what is.