Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Reading :: Driving Results through Social Networks

Driving Results Through Social Networks: How Top Organizations Leverage Networks for Performance and Growth
By Rob Cross and Robert J. Thomas

Rob Cross is well known for his work in organizational network analysis (ONA). In this book, Cross and his coauthor Robert Thomas discuss how ONA can be applied to better understand organizations' information flow, innovation, decision-making, and performance. It's an impressive description of how a careful ONA can turn up what are typically invisible connections, hubs, and gaps in a company. As the authors state, "ONA provides leaders with the means to accomplish what is arguably their most critical function: aligning individual and collective action with strategic objectives." They illustrate this point with multiple examples from extended cases.

As an illustration of the benefits of ONA, the book is successful; executives with no ONA background can see how this approach can translate directly into greater insights, leading to better-guided adaptations. In fact, the book would work well in terms of getting organizations excited about this approach and (more to the point) about taking seminars to learn how to perform an ONA.

Unfortunately, the book is not an ONA how-to. It focuses on benefits and insights, but for information on how to perform the ONA itself, you'll need to read other books. If you've wondered what ONA could contribute to your organization, this book is the place to start; if you want to know how it's conducted, I recommend a more academically oriented book such as a collection Cross coedited earlier, Networks in the Knowledge Economy.

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