Performance is a Group Effort

Performance metrics seldom favor employees that are vital for others to perform. A social network analysis lets you map these dependencies to gain a better understanding of how work actually gets done - and appreciate support roles.

They key to innovation is that insights from across the organization are recombined into new and profitable ideas and that these ideas are allowed to be tested. Leaving innovation to the individual departments more often leads to improvements rather than innovation.

Template for the Study

  1. How often do you receive input that is essential for you to perform from the following people?
  2. How often do you give input that is essential for this person to perform for the following people?
  3. How important are the following people for you in your job?

What to Look for and Do

Identify Enablers

Knowing who your top performers are, it should not be difficult to identify who their enablers are. They are the ones that the top performers report as someone they rely on (first and last questions) and often the ones that report themselves as delivering the top performers input (second question).

You can also see which employees are the most appreciated ones by their number of in-degrees for the first and last questions.

On the right a popular enabler is depicted having been pointed out by two top performers as someone that is important for them to do their job.

Assess Dependency Awareness

Another worthwhile study is to compare the graph for the first and second question. Ideally, the second graph is the same as the first with reversed ties. This is, however, not always the case: sometimes employees are well aware of how they depend on others, but not how others depend on them. This can be a real problem for an organization.

In the value creation process, the relationship between two employees is much like a customer relationship: there is a buyer and a seller of a service. If the seller does not know who the buyer (and end-user) is, or what they use it for, then he will not know how errors or changes on his part affect others further down the line.


Innovation: From Idea to Action


Assess Your Work Environment