How do you improve your organization's culture? Take a look at the social network.
We're not taking social media, although that's certainly an important channel. We're talking more broadly about people networks. After years of research, we know that the best places to work have a few things in common—and one of the most important factors is that information f l o w s!
What does this look like? Leaders leave their doors open. Emails are answered. Meetings are productive. People know the “whys” behind decisions. There are no surprises, hidden agendas, or secret societies. In fact, people who are naturally inclined to be “in the know” are celebrated and leveraged as change agents and spokespeople for important initiatives. And this is a big part of the organizational culture.
I have learned a great deal about social networks in organizations through my collaborations with Rob Cross, a business researcher who has made networks his life’s work. Rob examines how to use networking to build a more cohesive culture.
What’s fascinating is that the tools and model Rob uses can work in any organization, regardless of the industry. He recently invited me to present at the “Connected Commons” member summit in Boston, MA, along with my colleagues Bennet Voorhees and Kevin Martin. We were surrounded by the world’s biggest brains—these people are curing cancer!—I was in awe. With the backdrop of MIT’s “Drunken Robots,” (see the photo) one metaphor for the funky architectural design, we put a “network lens” on culture, so we could see how people, information flow, and connections can support efforts to strengthen an organization’s culture. My specific focus was on the OD interventions. That is, once Rob and team have done the analysis, how do you bring people together to talk about, define, and create accountability for the “what’s next?” (Here's a bit more from Rob on that.) That’s where the magic happens!
Interested in learning more? Read through these brief case studies—or drop me a line: