DOEC Project Progress Report

I detailed my engagement with the work of Rob Cross and my learning about how he has used social network analysis to drive change management in an earlier blog post (Social Network Analysis and Change Management) . In this post I want to take a step back, and outline the intention of the organizational effectiveness project I am working on, and comment on where I am and my next steps.

Back in 2015, my organization administered an organizational health survey, the results of which were shared with functional leadership teams. I was asked in 2016 to lead a team to explore the results on the Change Management portion of the survey. My discovery process utilized round table discussions with a number of groups that represented a broad cross-section of the function, in terms of both level and roles. My team then assembled and analyzed the data collected in these sessions, and distilled the data into a number of themes around change management.  The broad overarching theme was that changes impacting the function were not effectively communicated: round table participants pointed to gaps in timeliness of communication, the communication of intent and benefits, and reporting around progress and achievement of goals.

In response to this, my HR partner and I spent several months in 2017 delivering training intended to build associates’ skills as change agents and leaders. Time well spent, and of great value, but my concern has been that we have not fully addressed some of the key concerns surfaced around change communication. Consequently, as I entered into the Design for Organizational Effectiveness program, I felt I had a ready-made project to explore. My theory, derived from my reading of Rob Cross (noted above) is that social network analysis can be used to facilitate change communication within my organization. I believe that I can use the results of a social network analysis to pull together a team of individuals ideally placed to facilitate the communication of change within my function.

I have spent some time in my fall quarter 2017 class exploring the basic concepts and tools of social network analysis, and I have also invested time in learning an SNA tool, NodeXL. Armed with the results of my discovery round tables and my new tool, I created a survey that I sent out to associates in my function late in 2017, and have used NodeXL to build a social network graph. I have begun but not completed my analysis of my network graph.

I have identified several next steps to flesh out my prototype and  push my project forward:

  • I need to complete my social graph analysis, and assemble my change management team.
  • I have to plan exactly how I am going to use the team.
  • I need to determine the best way to measure effectiveness of the team:
    • Mini-surveys
    • Round tables
    • Another global organizational health survey will take place over the summer, but I hope to have at least some results before then.
  • Finally, I would like to plan out a  couple prototype cycles, if possible, to test my theory and make adjustments.

Fortuitously,  my function just rolled out a substantial change, so when I run a prototype test with my change management team, I will have a change event to which I can draw comparisons. More to come!

Social Network Analysis and Change Management

In #msloc455 I’ve been engaged learning how social network analysis (#SNA) can be used not just to examine the flow of knowledge and information across a network, but actually leveraged to drive a change initiative.  Rob Cross and his colleagues have researched and outlined a specific application of social network analysis that is of great interest to me. Cross has studied how leaders can leverage the insights of social network analysis to identify opinion leaders who can help engage and drive others in a change effort. Cross identifies multiple roles (Connector, Expert, Broker, Energizer, and Resister) that provide insight into the different ways that leaders can leverage people in a change effort.  Connectors (those who support many team members in different ways), for example, can help create alignment through their informal leadership and trusted opinions. Brokers, with their ties that bridge organizational boundaries, can help address the need for adjustments that take place during a change initiative. Resisters, who can stall momentum and deenergize colleagues, can be brought on board and engaged to aid change initiatives. The problems that modern organizations face are complex and interconnected, and therefore not easily managed by a strictly top-down management approach. Leaders who can understand and leverage the insights that come from social network analysis can expand their organization’s capacity to manage change.

I am facing a substantial process and systems change within my function, and from my reading of Cross, I know that I can in theory use social network analysis to identify key players to assist in this upcoming change initiative. I have been asked to lead the change management efforts associated with this process implementation, and I have begun to assemble network data to help me understand who the key players are that will be able to facilitate the change. In a diagram I have started building, several key players can be identified as influencers, based on the number of people that turn to them for advice. The diagram illustrates the results of a very simple survey that asked associates to identify those to whom they most frequently turned when they wanted to learn something or had a problem they couldn’t solve. Some individuals, like the function managers, naturally appeared in positions of influence. The network diagram also identified individuals who were unexpectedly revealed to be influential. I’m looking forward to writing more about this over the next several weeks.


Cross, R., Ernst, C., & Pasmore, B. (2013). A bridge too far? How boundary spanning networks drive organizational change and effectiveness. Organizational Dynamics, 42(2), 81–91.

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