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How Organisational Network Analysis Can Help You Stargaze

In Rob Cross, Heidi K Gardener, and Alia Crocker’s report for Harvard Business Review, they identified the use of Organisational Network Analysis (ONA), that assisted them in identifying ideal candidates for agile teams.

But, what is ONA? They describe this process as the analysis of “data from internal surveys, and electronic communications, like email and instant messaging, and other metrics – for instance, the number of times someone is sought out by colleagues, mentioned or assigned to collaborative projects – to surface people and patterns that are typically overlooked by both leaders and workforce planning systems”. This means you can find the people who do not necessarily go through the workplace with a high-profile, but are consistently a team player, from behind the curtains. It is the people who are resourceful, dependable etc. that are the ideal candidate for agile projects in your organisation.

If your company is not engaging in a full-blown agile transformation at the moment, and are maybe just testing the waters, you want to search your teams; look past the North Star, and instead, look for the ones that shine brightly across the sky, so you don’t overwhelm anyone, hidden stars are less likely to be overwhelmed by promises they’ve made with their teammates to assist them in their work.

Cross, Gardener and Crocker explain their reasoning as follows: “Resist the temptation to assign recognized star employees to key roles. Instead tap hidden stars, who possess the talent and contacts needed to develop and roll out an initiative but have much lower profiles in the organization and therefore are far less likely to be overloaded.” Therefore, “a company can avoid putting an already-stretched domain expert on yet another project—or worse, potentially jeopardizing all the projects that person is working on.”

What you never want to do, is alienate your star employees, make them feel overwhelmed by the prospect of coming to the office, because they have so much running around to do to make sure everything is in place across the board. It’s okay to have star employees, and recognise their efforts, but, they will likely appreciate having their workload eased by their colleagues. Your mental health is more important than your commitments to the workplace, you do not want your organisation to make people feel sick, or for their mental health to appear to be an afterthought. After all, in order to retain your employees’ dedication to their roles, you need to make sure they feel safe.

If analysing the nature of your employee connections, commitments, support networks etc. via Organisational Network Analysis, is the way to further support your teams and make sure they feel psychologically safe in work, it’s certainly worth implementing, don’t you think?

Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (, is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.

He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.

The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.

To book a consultation, or for any enquiries, you can contact Arvind via the following email address:

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