Image - Sample Large Corporation Network Diagram

Organizational Networks

Learn about organizational networks and how they can help your business boost performance. Browse our articles and case studies about networks and how they can help with change, learning, on-boarding, organization performance, and talent management. You’ll also find articles on networking and network analysis.

The Basics

  • Networks 101 – A primer on the basics: what networks are, why they matter, and where to go for more information. Partnering Resources Article.
  • The Three Most Important Positions You Don’t Know About Yet – The most powerful people in organizations often can’t be identified on organization charts or process maps. These “stealth players” occupy critical places in informal organizational networks and have the ability to make or break change. This white paper describes the three positions and explains how to leverage them. Partnering Resources White Paper.
  • The Seven Hidden Networks: The Webs of Relationships that Power the Corporation – Beyond organization charts and process maps is a hidden web of relationships that drives performance and innovation. Employees activate these informal connections when they need to solve problems, make decisions, or get the lowdown on what’s happening in the company. All in all, seven hidden networks influence a corporation’s strategic success. This white paper describes these networks and demonstrates the problems that can occur when networks are misaligned. Partnering Resources White Paper.


  • Pfeiffer Annual - Networks at PlayNetworks at Play – A short experiential activity that introduces participants to the concepts of hidden social networks and of critical connectors. It’s a fun, fast way to help participants understand how information flows in teams and how networks influence effective communication. We’re proud to announce that “Networks at Play” was just published in the 2011 Pfeiffer Consulting Annual. Free Resource.
  • Speed Coaching – Need to get people energized and connected quickly? Speed coaching is the way to do it! This fast-paced, interactive activity helps launch any meeting or deepen any group’s relationships through a structured, fun, speed coaching format. This is one of our favorite activities and, with our easy guide, you can run it yourself in your organization. Free Resource.

Case Studies

Organizational Networks and Change

  • Informal Networks Linked to Success of Change Initiatives – If you’ve ever wondered about whether networks really make a difference, you now have an answer. A joint study sponsored by the Northeast HR Association and Partnering Resources finds new links between networks and change success. Some of the findings include:
    • The success of a change initiative is linked to the strength of the change leader(s)’ personal networks.
    • HR professionals use multiple methods during change to leverage informal networks–but don’t realize that they’re tapping into network analysis techniques.
    • People rely on formal leaders for making decisions, solving problems, and giving advice during change… potentially causing bottlenecks due to over-reliance on leaders. Published on
  • Your Turn: Did the Change Work? – It’s your turn to make the decision. In this 1-page case study, the new Executive Director of a nonprofit organization needs to decide how well his change initiatives have been implemented and what his next steps should be. You have information about the change initiatives and data about how people collaborate. What would you do if you were in his shoes? Partnering Resources Learning Case.

Learning Networks

  • Leveraging Human Networks to Accelerate Learning – “Making change truly sustainable over time requires real learning from a trusted source. That’s why leaders don’t need to talk to everyone in their organization to achieve success. If the right 5% believe in your message, then everyone else will, too” (Network analysis pioneer Karen Stephenson). This article published by Chief Learning Officer shows how companies can leverage that critical 5% to accelerate learning and change. The article features a case study from New England’s Merrimack Pharmaceutical that shows how they successfully used networks to improve learning in the organization. Published in Chief Learning Officer.

Network Analysis

  • Network Analysis FAQs – What is network analysis? Why is it important? How does it work? This short document answers frequently asked questions about network analysis. Partnering Resources article.
  • Nonprofit Network Analysis – There’s a lot of buzz about network analysis in nonprofits. But what can it really do for you? This 2-pager answers some frequently asked questions about network analysis, such as:
    • What types of questions can be answered by a network analysis?
    • What are the requirements for a successful study?
    • What does the organization receive as a result of participation? Partnering Resources Article.


  • Who Trumps How: How Building Your Networks Can Help You – Interested in learning more about social and organizational networks? This short, on-demand online show will give you the basics about networks: what they are, why they matter, and how high performers use networks to help them succeed. Partnering Resources Presentation.


  • Welcome! Now Get to Work: Creating On-boarding Programs That Set Employees Up for Success – 64% of executives hired from the outside fail at their jobs. Companies spend time and money to search, interview, hire, and engage these executives. Their efforts, more often than not, are unsuccessful. This short presentation highlights the reasons why executives fail and what companies can to help new hires succeed. Presented at the NEHRA 2010 Conference.

Organization Performance & Networks

  • Nature of Networks article in Talent MgmtThe Nature of Networks – Professional networks within and across organization can directly impact the success of change initiatives. But to what extent, and why? This Talent Management article reports on results of a recent survey that sheds light onto what networks have to do with project success. Published in Talent Management magazine.
  • The Missing Link: Leveraging Informal Networks to Improve Project Success Rates – The statistics about project success are daunting: too many fail to finish on time, within budget, and according to scope. Only 5% of change initiatives are completed on time and with minimal disruption to the organization, according to Gartner. Clearly, traditional tools are not enough. Every organization has hidden networks of relationships that employees use in order to get work done, make decisions, and solve problems. These networks have been largely ignored, but hold the keys to improving performance and accelerating change. In this presentation, PMI Mass Bay Chapter members learned how PMs can use hidden networks to improve project performance. Presented to the PMI Mass Bay Chapter. 

Succession Planning

  • Succession Planning through Networks Case Study Succession Gone Wrong – Companies are exposed to significant risk when leaders step down unexpectedly. Yet 80% of companies are not well prepared for their CEOs’ departure, according to the Corporate Leadership Council (2004). Others have succession plans, but fail to create a smooth transition because the plan is faulty or not well-executed. This PowerPoint show, adapted from a recent presentation for the Northeast HR Association’s Advanced Practitioner Series, shows how hidden networks influence succession planning. Presented in the Northeast HR Association’s Advanced Practitioner Series. 
  • Your Turn: Who Should be the Next CEO? – It’s your turn to make the decision. In this 1-page case study, Jerry is retiring and needs to decide who he will groom to be his successor. You have his organization chart and data about how people collaborate. Who will you choose to be the next CEO? Partnering Learning Case.

Talent and Networks

Networked Leadership

Talent and Networks

  • Hidden Assets Can Drive Your Company – The most powerful people in organizations often can’t be identified on organization charts or process maps. These “stealth players” occupy critical places in informal organizational networks and have the ability to make or break change. They’re also a tech leader’s best source for potential successors, innovators, and problem solvers. Published in Mass High Tech.
  • Your Turn: Who’s at Risk? – It’s your turn to make the decision. In this 1-page case study, a nonprofit organization needs to find the rising stars among its volunteer pool and identify who’s at risk for being over-burdened. You have the volunteer structure and the volunteers’ work patterns. Who do you think is at risk? Partnering Resources Learning Case.

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