Step 1: Planning the Study
The most important step is the initial one: identification of the problem at hand. A clear focus on a specific problem not only improves the quality of the data collected but also makes it easier to act on the findings.
There are two questions worth asking when deciding on a study of the organization: what are the organization’s biggest challenges? And where is the biggest potential for improvement? These might be very comprehensive problems but oftentimes it can be broken down to smaller issues – and among these there are low-hanging fruits. “Low-hanging fruits” refers to the projects that have a relative high financial impact compared to how easy and fast it is to implement solutions for.
Social network analysis can also be used as an exploratory tool to determine whether or not there is a problem at all. Sometimes studies that were meant to uncover one thing, to the manager’s surprise, highlights problems he or she would not even have thought of.
The templates in this guidebook serve as good examples of what social network analysis can be used for.