Formalizing informal networks!?

[German title: Informelle Netzwerke formalisieren!?]

Harnessing the power of informal employee networks: Formalizing a company’s ad hoc peer groups can spur collaboration and unlock value.
Lowell L. Bryan, Eric Matson, and Leigh M. Weiss
The McKinsey Quarterly, 2007 Number 4

Article at a glance:

  • Most large corporations have dozens if not hundreds of informal networks, in which human nature, including self-interest, leads people to share ideas and collaborate.
    Informal networks are a powerful source of horizontal collaboration across thick silo walls, but as ad hoc structures their performance depends on serendipity and they can’t be managed.
  • By creating formal networks, companies can harness the advantages of informal ones and give management much more control over networking across the organization.
  • The steps needed to formalize a network include giving it a “leader,” focusing interactions in it on specific topics, and building an infrastructure that stimulates the ongoing exchange of ideas.

This article contains the following exhibits:

  • Exhibit 1: Formal structures do not reflect how work really gets done.
  • Exhibit 2: Informal networks often have members who play such crucial roles that their departure would disrupt the network.
  • Exhibit 3: The differences between formal networks and matrix structures are significant.
  • Exhibit 4: A formal network reaching across the hierarchical structure can facilitate interactions among marketing professionals within an organization.

Read the full article online.

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