The flexible organization

Leverage Organizational Network Analysis to create a networked organization

Posted by Tiffany McDowell on October 17, 2018.

Network-based teams are a key component to unlocking a more flexible organization poised to deliver the agility, customer centricity, and front-line empowerment needed to succeed amidst massive disruption. By realigning select individuals across functions into networked teams, they can be focused on collaborating to achieve specific shared outcomes. But how can organizations identify individuals and teams to target to drive increased flexibility? This is where Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) comes in.

Today’s business landscape is marked by new and disruptive technologies, expansive interconnected markets, and intense competition that demand operations to move faster than ever to keep pace. Being nimble, agile, and flexible to better navigate this landscape has become a common overarching goal for many organizations. Getting there, however, remains a hurdle for companies to overcome.

Deloitte’s experience helping some of the world’s most complex companies transform has taught us that the future of organization design does not mean leaving behind traditional “boxes and wires.” The flexible organization simply reimagines how individuals, leaders, and teams align to scale operations and services, and continually adapt as needed.
One aspect of organization design reimagined for optimal flexibility is networked teams.

Source: Deloitte Consulting LLP

What are networked teams? They are multidisciplinary teams empowered to make decisions, able to access the right skill sets, and free to adapt to market developments without having to navigate traditional functional hierarchies and layers of decision rights. These teams are pulled together to focus on delivering specific outcomes and they are a critical component to unlocking flexibility. Designing the organization to be able to quickly form, morph, and disband these teams as business needs dictate, drawing on the right talent effectively at the right time, starts with an inward look at how the organization operates today.

Seeing is believing
Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) can help provide that inward look. ONA can provide the insights to understand how work really gets done in an organization, regardless of formal reporting relationships, while revealing hidden areas of flexibility to scale or pain points to address. Using network analytics and data visualization in the form of network maps, ONA illuminates otherwise invisible information flows, connectivity, and collaboration. It can also surface individuals that serve as liaisons between groups, functions that operate in a vacuum without cross-functional collaboration, and employees that foster and hinder the flow of information. These insights can help inform decisions for selecting individuals and groups for networked project teams without disrupting core business operations, in addition to anticipating where challenges might arise.

Consider this case in point: A corporate function of a Fortune 500 computer data storage and devices company sought to develop the next-generation organization model that scales with the business. Using ONA, the organization highlighted teams and individuals with strong working relationships and business outcomes. Identifying patterns of characteristics in these relationships led to implementing a location-based structure that reflected these characteristics to position the function to better serve as a strategic business partner and deliver maximum value to the business.

Example Network Map showing team collaboration

Unlock flexibility
Organizational Network Analysis increases visibility of networks within your complex ecosystem and lays the groundwork for a transformation that can unlock flexibility in your organization and enable the shift to an outcomes-focused way of operating. By doing so, organizations have the means to rapidly respond to new and unplanned challenges, accelerate speed to market, streamline resource planning, and adapt to change—in short, to be nimble, agile, and flexible.

You can read more about what it takes to become a flexible organization in Deloitte’s new perspective, Unlocking the flexible organization: Organizational design for an uncertain future.

Tiffany McDowellTiffany McDowell, is a principal in the Organization Transformation & Talent Human Capital Practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP, where she focuses on helping companies improve performance by building organization structures to execute new capabilities through their workforce.

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