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Building Local Bridges in Organizations

http://www.robcross.org/network_ona.htm

The issue with modern large organizations is that it takes so much effort to find a colleague, possibly your 1st tier network, their 1st tier and even their 2nd tier networks only to find someone who is sitting 2 rows across from you. Just how important is it to develop an organizational network? Very! I will break this down in two parts.

  1. Knowledge network: similar to the academic network of citations in which each node represents a published paper and they are connected by citations hence the more a paper is cited the more central role the paper plays in the wider network, a knowledge network in an organization plays a similar role. With nodes and edges referencing to knowledge/products and relationship by distance of fields, it takes less time to look for a particular project and its history including references.
  2. Professional network: this is not to be confused with LinkedIn which is a professional social network and is perfect for keeping contacts at a companies where you worked in the past or great for reaching out to people at a different company but it doesn’t solve the organizational social network problem. An organization is a network of people in which everyone is a node and mostly likely, is made up of many sub-components that are linked by local bridges throughout. However, it is hard to imagine the local bridges in a company unless we can map out the entire organization and visualize the mapping to see who are the bridges and local bridges connecting the parts. A very difficult task since most companies would choose to remain secretive about its own organizational mapping because it could expose its strengths and weaknesses to competitors but on the other hand, the mapping will prove to be very useful internally because based on the mapping one can easily improve their status in the network by connecting to different component and joining multiple close-knit groups, becoming the endpoint for many separate parts.

Knowledge network and professional network are two of the most critical resources that a company can have. But I suspect that the only reason many companies are not creating the framework around these is because it takes a lot of time to build and to train people on how to use it. It is usual for companies to prioritize projects which can help them achieve short term goals. Nevertheless, the long term effect of having a structured people and learning repository cannot be ignored.

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