Powerful Insights to Improve Organizational Performance

By Laura Kellers Queen, VP and Chief Development Officer, G&W Laboratories

Laura Kellers Queen, VP and Chief Development Officer, G&W Laboratories

The marriage of Human Resources and Tech¬nology offers powerful solutions to pressing business issues. Historically separated by a people-centric vs. technical-centric mindset, both functions are designed to provide critical support to business operations through ensuring business continuity, mitigating risk, and improving performance and efficiency. The increasing consumerization of business applications, along with a larger appetite for people analytics, offers HR and Technology the opportunity for formidable partnership in providing insight, discovering the strengths of an or-ganization and identifying avenues for critical advances and risk mitigation across business enterprises. Case-in-point is our work using Maven7’s OrgMapper® technology.

“OrgMapper® utilizes an automated online interface that maps and analyzes the inner workings of any organization”

Our Positive Team Optimization group has a deep capability in providing internal consulting services to business units and intact teams help these groups uncover their achievements and successes, optimize their support of key business strategies, and leverage opportunities for greater contribution to the business. Until recently, these efforts were driven solely through intensive facilitated workshops. The data gathered before such events were typically anecdotal and though powerful, sometimes lacked the credibility that often comes from more objective data. The outcomes were invariably impactful and offered significant learning for the participants and the organization. They provided concrete items to address and action plans to move their teams, business units and organizations forward; however, group anecdotal data is easily challenged and often considered too open to interpretation, especially by data-driven leadership. We believed that there was a way to obtain more defensible and objective data with increased richness; and a way to highlight and showcase these data driven outcomes in a more engaging and captivating way.

The OrgMapper® visual outputs reveal key people of influence, real interaction patterns, and possible points of intervention, which are proven to add significant value to the internal performance consulting efforts we’ve engaged in. Built on the theoretical frameworks of Social Network Analysis (SNA) and Organization Network Analysis (ONA), OrgMapper® is an easy-to-use, online organizational diagnostic tool that reveals the actual human networks driving various outcomes and presenting organization challenges.

OrgMapper® utilizes an automated online interface that maps and analyzes the inner workings of any organization. By exposing patterns of social business interactions and information flow, OrgMapper® uncovers previously unforeseen organizational risks. It empowers you to optimize organizational structure and policies to take account of blockages, change agents, and people of influence in your networks. In doing so, information flow is transformed and a positive impact on performance, morale, and delivery is achieved while minimizing its risk profile.

OrgMapper® data has enabled us to work deeply with intact and cross-functional teams to diagnose and address areas of strength and opportunity in structure, communication, leadership, and work-flow. These explorations have led to changes in internal business processes to facilitate efficiency and improve cycle-times; identify high-potential talent to focus development plans and increase employee career opportunity, enhance employee engagement and retention. We have also exposed communication breakdowns and missing links among key business leaders–allowing the organization to address patterns of information flow, improve clarity of work instruction and enhance product development outcomes, resulting in a more unified leadership structure.

How does this happen?

Work groups or teams are asked to participate in an online survey, using a predetermined set of questions, selected to explore specific areas of focus. These areas might include communication or workflows, leadership influence, decision-making, talent, productivity or performance. OrgMapper®’s technology applies algorithms to the inputs and produces network maps, depicting the relationships among various network members, which are then used to guide discovery and exploration around key questions or areas of concern. These network maps convey powerful messages that are easily understood by the participants.

Our approach is to use these network maps to begin a process of facilitated group self-discovery. We employ our proprietary Appreciative Inquiry (AI) methodology to interpret and support the discovery, design and intervention aspects of each engagement. This allows the participants to process the survey questions as a group, coming to agreement on the definitions of each question, and then processing the network maps to make meaning of what they are seeing–the ‘as-is’ state in their group, team or organization. The initial network map processing is followed by a series of exercises designed to highlight historical successes, strengths and opportunities of the team (group or organization)to build upon their capabilities, improving their chances of meeting (and exceeding) critical business outcomes.

An example of a recent engagement helps illustrate the power of this tool. An internal, intact team approached us to assist in their team development. Several interviews and observations of the team, in action, revealed a lack of clarity in the group leader’s role. Team members struggled to identify the official group leader, and to define the roles of other team members. Using the TeamMapper® functionality within OrgMapper®, our analysis was able to confirm the lack of leader role clarity and to identify the person in the group who was perceived to be the leader and looked to by others for leadership, decision-making guidance and information sharing. These role expectations were shared with the team-identified leader, incorporated into her professional development plan, as well as formal communication efforts and process controls for the team. In addition, when this information was incorporated into a larger, more comprehensive plan, the team was able to implement additional group process changes that have propelled them toward their stated goal of becoming a high performing team.

In another case, the TeamMapper® tool was used to identify critical leadership and communication issues in a cross-functional team. This team’s focus was on addressing interpersonal relations, improved communication flows, increased production efficiency and product quality. The data produced through the use of the network maps, and subsequent conversations with the participants, provided significant clarity and understanding of the current strengths and capabilities of the group. These data points were leveraged to address missing communication links, a poor understanding of mechanisms to improve employee engagement, clarity of production processes and alignment of goals and objectives across the various departments represented by the participants. The outcomes of this work and the resulting organization process and structure changes are already realizing significant benefit for the team and the organization. The OrgMapper® technology has had tremendous positive impact on our ability to diagnose and communicate opportunities for organizational improvement, as well as engage program participants through the use of meaningful and impactful data. We believe this is a marriage of capabilities destined to stand the tests of time.

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