Informal Networks

The informal organization is rich in possibilities but poor in management toolkits. Most of the good stuff comes from the informal side; most of the investment goes to the formal one.

Whilst ‘One Team’ ensures the working together of people in formal structures (the formal organization) ‘Mastering internal social networks’ focuses on the connectivity and collaboration within the more invisible informal organization. The ability to navigate the internal and informal social networks of connectivity and influence within your organization and beyond is today a core competence of the highest value.

Network is today more important than teamwork

Traditional management has focused on the ‘teamocracy’ regime, on the formal structures such as teams, committees and task forces, placing a great deal of effort and investment to create a solid, formal and visible organization. These formal strictures are today a baseline, a necessity, but by no means sufficient. A great deal of innovation, cross fertilization of ideas and spontaneous and highly efficient collaboration between people, takes place outside the formal structures. It uses the fluid social networks of connections and relationships which constitute the real oxygen of the organization. ‘Net-working’ has become even more important than ‘team-working’ but unlike the latter, management has little or no tradition in developing this competence other than in a rather superficial way. No wonder for many people ‘networking’ is just drinks after work!

Assessing connections and relationships

This is an intervention to boost the capabilities and value of your informal networks without falling into the temptation of ‘managing them’ or domesticating those fluid conversations. Internal social networks (of connections and relationships) need to be nurtured and supported but traditional management lacks the tools to do this. We will assess the strength and weaknesses of your informal organization; we will map the essentials of these relationships and will design and implement a plan to support them.

The intervention is complemented when appropriate by two things: strategic advice on how to incorporate ‘ne-workers’ into your HR policies and the internal use of social media, particularly enterprise micro-blogging