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Link - Workforce Planning - Handout 4
Link - Workforce Planning - Handout 4
Link - Workforce Planning - Handout 4
Link - Workforce Planning - Handout 4
Link - Workforce Planning - Handout 4
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Link - Workforce Planning - Handout 4


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  • 1. Measuring the Intangible How the National Braille Press Evaluated Culture, Collaboration, Morale, Impact of Restructuring and More There are many ways to evaluate culture, collaboration, employee morale, team performance, and the impact of restructuring. But it’s difficult to measure all five at once without over-stressing the organization. The National Braille Press successfully used organization network analysis to evaluate its progress and identify simple but effective improvement actions. The National Braille Press ( is a objective, reliable way to measure the impact of the Boston-based, nonprofit, braille publishing house. changes he had instituted. Founded in 1927, its mission is to promote the literacy of blind children. By printing over 15 million There are many ways to evaluate culture, pages each year, NBP is a world leader in braille collaboration, employee morale, team performance, publishing. and the impact of restructuring. It’s difficult to measure all five at once without over-stressing the After 31 years on the job, Bill Raeder decided to organization. MacDonald turned to organization retire in 2007 as the Executive Director of NBP. He network analysis. left a strong organization, but one that was used to his style, process, and preferences. His successor, A Simple Technique for Complex Measurement Brian MacDonald, sought to update and Underneath the organization charts and process professionalize the organization. maps is a hidden web of relationships that people MacDonald discovered some surprises upon taking use to improve processes, solve problems, and on his new position. One member of his leadership complete work. All employees are connected team, a long-term employee, has assumed through relationship networks. Network quality, responsibilities that exceeded her skill set. Beloved shape, and strength affect how well organizations in the organization, she had stayed on despite share knowledge, collaborate, learn, improve, and several significant snafus. implement. Another surprise was the degree of insularity in the These relationships collectively function as an organization: people stuck to their functional areas organizational circulatory system. When the and rarely collaborated with other functions. As a circulatory system isn’t healthy, companies lose result, the organization failed to capitalize on several opportunities and experience performance promising opportunities. problems. By assessing the organization network, MacDonald would be able to gauge the health of MacDonald took decisive and radical action. He NBP; measure culture, collaboration, morale, encouraged the underperforming executive to leave performance, and impact of restructuring; and see if the company. He lost a few solid employees who his changes had been effective. refused to stay after her dismissal. He restructured the organization, redefined departments, and In addition, the organization network analysis (ONA) instituted a team-based structure. In what was, identifies three key positions—called critical perhaps, his most counter-cultural move, he connectors—discovered by Dr. Karen Stephenson promoted a low-profile director onto his leadership as a result of over 30 years of research into the team. dynamics and behavior of organizational networks (see Stephenson, 1998). The critical connectors The changes seemed to be working, but MacDonald consist of: didn’t want any more surprises. He wanted an © 2010 Partnering Resources.
  • 2. NBP work netwo turned ou exactly as P’s ork ut MacDonald had h hoped (Figure 2). The diagram e clear shows sign rly nificant activit between ty depaartments and within depart tments. By lo ooking at this diagram, MaacDonald had the answ to one question: people were workin cross- wer ng functionally. Howeever, a deepe look at the network er Figure 1: Hubs, Gatekeepers, G map revealed ch ps hallenges and areas for d Pulsetakkers. imprrovement. © NetForm. Used with permission. • Hubs: Higghly and direc connected with many, ctly d Figure 3 shows crross-functiona interactions al s Hubs commmunicate and disseminate knowledge e undeertaken on a d daily and wee basis in o ekly order to through th organizatio he on. solve problems, s e share expertis and innova It se, ate. • Gatekeep pers: Links be etween people e, exclu udes the routine exchange shown on F es Figure 2. departments, and custo omers, Gatek keepers act as informaation gateway and broker knowledge ys r exchange between crit e tical parts of t the organizatiion. • Pulsetake People who have maximum ers: influence using minimu number of direct um f contacts, Pulsetakers are often low profile, high a performer who implicitly understand and rs influence the organizattion. Together, criti T ical connectors comprise the culture shapers of the organization They dispro s e n. oportionately in nfluence the o organization: they touch m most in nnovation, im mprovement, decision making, and d strategy conve s ersations in th organizatio Yet, only he on. 10% of people in networks fill these role By 1 e es. understanding the topology of NBP’s ne u g y etwork map— — and a location o the three cr of ritical connect tors on it— MacDonald w M would be able to measure th he organization’s culture and intervene in o o s i order to maximize its e m effectiveness.. Figure 2: The work network. k Culture, Com C mmunication, & Collabora , ation The diagram shows each of the six departments in its own s s separate box. T points withi each box rep s The in present Culture was M C MacDonald’s first area of in f nterest. He indiv viduals. For exa ample, there is only one point within the t wanted to sha a collabor w ape rative, team-bbased culture stems box (top left) since ther is only one e Sys re employee in which peop communicated freely ac n ple cross assigned to Sys a stems. The Prooduction box (b bottom) boundaries, shared informa b ation, and sollved inc cludes over 20 points since there are 20+ emmployees working in tha department. B at Blue lines repre esent problems toge p ether. exxchanges that occur within a department. Red lines represent cross-function exchanges. nal To T understand NBP’s cultu we looked first at how d ure, d work gets don These exc w ne. changes, colle ectively Throough this lens NBP appears to interact less s, called the “wo network,” represent the resting c ork r e frequ uently across departmenta lines. Devel al lopment pulse of the organization and depict routine traffic p show few ties to other departments. Upon further ws within the orga w anization: who goes to whom to invesstigation, the reasons for this gap became clear: exchange info e ormation in or rder to get a jo done. ob Deve elopment was more focuse on the exte s ed ernal world of funders a grant makers than the world d and © 2010 Partnering Resources. ww ww.partneringres
  • 3. in nside NBP. W While it was Development’s job to D s This picture was a wake-up ca Action was needed all. s connect externally, some opportunities w c o were missed. in orrder to protect and sustain organizationa culture t al The T stories that Developme needed in order to ent n and collaboration. Both critical connectors n needed to raise support for the organization came from r mentor others in o order to exten their know nd wledge Education Sal and Public E les cation Service es—yet and share their cu ultural shaping activities. T The Development was disconne D ected from those areas. Exec cutive Directo needed to m or make sure tha the at critic connectors were happy in their jobs and not cal s y Another gap h formed be A had etween Public cation planning to leave— least not at the same time. —at t Services and Production. These two dep S T partments Finally, departments needed c cross-functional goals needed to work together in order to align products n n n in orrder to force c collaboration. with w customer needs. Yet, there were no innovation, r o expertise, or improvement exchanges between the e tw departments. wo Fig gure 4: The sam cross-func me ctional exchan as in nge Figure 3 but without two c ctors  critical connec Team Performan m nce Figure 3: Cro oss-functional interactions p performed to innovate, solve problem and share expertise ms, MacDonald introd duced cross-functional team into ms the o organization in order to enc courage colla aboration, A third red flag arose in relation to two c g critical communication, a better per and rformance. Th ONA he connectors. Figure 4 shows all cross-fun c nctional looke at how we those cross ed ell s-functional te eams exchanges as does Figure 3, but remov the two e s ves functioned. critical connec c ctors: one in Education Sales, the other E r in Systems. W n Without these individuals, in nteractions The first team, the Business to Business tea is e o am, between areas erode dram b matically: ponsible for fo resp orging connec ctions among NBP, custoomers, and ppartners. The ONA clearly s showed • Developm ment exchanges information only with that this team was still forming. It had not ye gelled. s et Administraation—no oth departmen her nts. • Publicatio Services an Developm on nd ment connects The integrated ma of Busines to Business team ap ss only throu the Execu ugh utive Director. . ractions—disp inter playing how th team work he ked, • Publicatio Services an Production connects on nd n innovated, shared expertise, socialized, solved d only throu Education Sales. ugh n probblems, and ma decisions ade s—showed a limited amo ount of traffic b between team members (F m Figure 5). In essence, w without these two critical co t onnectors, Each member inte h eracted with o only two othe team er NBP loses the cross-functional glue that holds it N e t mem mbers. Key int teractions we missing: E ere Elise and to ogether. © 2010 Partnering Resources. ww ww.partneringres
  • 4. Betty weren’t linked, nor we David and Carl (not B ere d Figure 7 shows in nteractions on the leadersh team. n hip their real nam mes). Clearly, work was nee w eded to The executive’s d departure did not seem to leave a transform the B2B team int a functionin entity. to ng lastin scar: all m ng members were well connect e ted, with one exception. Th exception was Carl, the new hat e mem mber of the tea Often, ne members show am. ew fewe connections because it t er s takes time for them to r integ grate into the team. Was C Carl’s lack of connnection due to his newness Or was it in o s? ndicative of sk gaps, low p kill performance, or exclusion from the , leadership team?     Figure 5: Bu usiness to Business team innteractions related to rou utine work, social exchange innovation, e, expertise, and improvement e t The T other group, the Cente for Braille In er nnovation Team, was in better shape (Figure 6). T ONA T The showed robus interactions among team members, s st s m particularly in innovation an improveme p nd ent—just the is ssues that tea needed to tackle. Ther was one am o re Figure 7: L Leadership team interaction ns in nteresting dyn namic: the tea seemed to have am formed a core group consis fo e sting of Alice, Allie, Amy, , To a answer this qu uestion, we lo ooked at Carl’s Carl, and Dav Those ind C vid. dividuals were responsible e placeement across all of the org s ganization’s nnetworks: for fo the majorit of informati ty ional, creative and e, work social, inno k, ovation, experrtise, improvement, problem solvin activities on the team. T other p ng o The and decision mak king. Carl emeerged as a members seemed to serve more as bys m e standers than pulseetaker—one o the three c of critical connecctors—in active particip a pants. ever network. In addition, he served as a ry gatekeeper in the work, improv e vement, and d decision making networks. His role as a critical conn . nector, speccifically as a p pulsetaker, sig gnified that he is e deep trusted and respected b his colleag ply by gues in the o organization. Pulsetakers often serve as info n ormal leaders behind- s, scenes influen the-s ncers, and hig potentials. In this gh . case MacDonald saw Carl for what he was e, d r s—a trust ted, respected informal lea d, ader—and did the right d thing by promoting him. In time Carl would be g e, integ grated into the leadership t e team. Mora & the Imp ale pact of Restr ructuring Figure 6: Center for Braille Innovation team The ONA showed MacDonald much of wha he d at interactions in relation to innovation, ex i xpertise, and need to know: ded improvvement • People were working cross P s-functionally y. The T Leadersh Team hip However, the organization was over-rel H e n liant on One O of MacDo onald’s most significant ac ctions upon two individuals who did mu to sustain t uch n arriving at NBP was to repl a lace one long g-term collaboration. c . member with one of her dir m rect reports. H wanted to He • Teams were f T forming—as h hoped—yet m more work know how this change had impacted the leadership k s e was w needed i order to tra in ansform them into high team. functioning te f eams. © 2010 Partnering Resources. ww ww.partneringres
  • 5. • His leadership team wa collaborating and as (Gallup, 2006). If the organizat tion continued down d communic cating. It had not been hur by the rt this p path, work at NBP ran the risk of becomming executive’s absence. Although the n A new member druddgery. had not ye integrated into the executive team, et all signs p pointed to his success sinc he was ce Luck this situat kily, tion had not p progressed fa enough ar highly trus sted and resp pected in the o organization. to be a problem a the solutio was a hap one: e and on ppy sponnsor events designed to he people relax, build elp In other words the change he had imp s, es plemented ties, and rememb that work c be fun. ber can were starting t work. But what about th broader w to w he im mpact of thos changes? Had morale s se suffered? In th End he To T answer this question, we looked at th social w he It too just 20 min ok nutes of staff t time, 3 execuutive network. This network repr n resents social connections l direc meetings and one exe ctor s, ecutive team meeting within the orga w anization and identifies wh people d ho to obbtain the answ wers to MacD Donald’s ques stions. seek out when they want to know what’s going on. It s n o s Usin organizatio network an ng on nalysis, he too the ok serves as a sh s hock absorbe for stress and provides er pulse of the organ e nization; meaasured intangible an a outlet for p people to exprress concern and diffuse issue such as cu es ulture, morale and impact of e, tension. restrructuring; and identified sim d mple yet potent next steps. Strong social networks are not always p S positive; they can c mean that people are doing more ch d hatting than Orga anization Netw work Analysis Tools working. However, NBP’s social network presented w s k the opposite c challenge. People weren’t connecting Numerous tools are available for t e those wishing t conduct to a rob bust, quantifiable, reliable orga anization network frequently (Fig f gure 8). analyysis. A directory of network an y nalysis freewar exists re on W Wikipedia. Most of these tools require statistical expeertise. Seve tools have been created s eral specifically for busin nesses and non nprofit organiza ations. All figur in this res document were created using the NetForm™ Co onnectors methhodology and software. The C Connectors tool contains l proprrietary algorithm developed over 30+ years of ms s resea arch and study with a variety of organization These y ns. algor rithms identify hhubs, gatekeep pers, and pulse etakers. Connnectors is available only to lice ensed, certified d, profe essional consul ltants. For more information a e about NetForm™ and Con nnectors, see wwww.netform.c com or wwww.partneringreso Refe erences Harte J.K., & Wag er, gner, R. (2006). 12: The Elem ments of Grreat Managing. Gallup Press. Stephhenson, K. (19 998). “Networks CRC Handb s.” book of Te echnology Mana agement. About the Author A Figure 8: The social network F s k Maya Townsend founder and principal M d, consultant at Pa c artnering Resources, builds aligned, f b focused organizations MacDonald in M nterpreted this to mean that, after the s th achieve the goals more e hat eir effectively. tumult of the last few years people had turned s, For F more inform mation, visit nward. The danger of this coping mechanism was in www.partneringr w that NBP didn have much of a buffer against stress. n’t h . Additionally, p A people withou friendships at work are ut more likely to be dissatisfie and under productive m ed © 2010 Partnering Resources. ww ww.partneringres