Knowledge is located in social networks, therefore it is important to better understand them. Social networks are nodes of individuals, groups, organisations or related systems which are connected by types of interdependency. Social network analysis is an instrument to map these connections and visualizes formal and informal connections and knowledge flows between people, groups and organisations.
When to use it?
Doing a social network analysis in the scope of your project, activity or even in the entire organisation can bring you the following results:
- improve innovation and learning
- refine strategies
- visualize relationships within and outside the organisation
- identify knowledge bottlenecks, isolated individuals and groups
- identify knowledge flows: who’s seeking information and knowledge from whom?
- accelerate knowledge flows across functional and organisational boundaries
- strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of existing formal communication channels
How is it applied?
- identify the network of people to be analysed
- gather the necessary background information
- clarify the objectives and the scope of analysis and agree on the level of reporting required
- formulate hypotheses and questions
- develop the survey methodology and design the questionnaire
- surveying the individuals and identifying the relationships and the knowledge flows between them
- use a software mapping tool to visualize the networks
- review the map and the problems and opportunities
- design and implement actions to bring desired change
- map the network again after a suitable time
Questions to ask?
- Who knows who and how well?
- How well do people know each other’s knowledge and skills?
- Who or what gives people information about xyz?
- What resources do people use to find information/feedback/ideas/advice about xyz?
- What resources do people use to share information about xyz?
How to adapt it?
- You can use the SNA method in combination with other methods:
- As a start for strategic planning
- In combination with other methods of the toolkit such as sociometrics
What to consider?
It is very important to visualize the networks. Make sure you have large walls, paper, and other visualisation material available (if social network analysis software is not available).
Some social network analysis tools
Where to learn more?