Network Basics: What Are Networks?

Networks consist of the web of relationships formed by people in order to get things done. This web supports the many functions that people fulfill at work, from completing routine transactions to socializing, innovating, planning, learning, and developing their careers.

Organizational networks influence virtually everything organizations do:

  • Organizational Networks - Layers of Operations

    Organizational Networks (Image creator unknown. If you know the creator, please contact me so I can give credit.)

    Change: If networks are effective, they can adapt quickly to change.
  • Decision Making: The quality of people’s networks influences the quality of their decisions.
  • Leadership: Effective leaders tend to cultivate their networks in specific ways. 
  • Culture: An organization’s culture is embedded in its networks. Networks can effectively resist or enable culture change.
  • Mergers & Acquisitions: If networks don’t integrate well after a merger or acquisition, the organizations won’t achieve desired synergies or cost savings.
  • Innovation: Bringing the people with the right skill sets together from across networks improves innovation.
  • Projects: Successful projects are run by leaders with stronger networks.

Where to Go From Here?

Not Sure Where to Begin?

Try one of these starter articles.

  • 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. 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.

Didn’t find what you were looking for here? Check out our organizational network resources.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you leverage networks to boost organizational performance.