Reviewing KM and the social network by Patti Anklam, I was wondering about the statement made that it creates new credibility for KM by providing executives with concrete data to illustrate the dynamics of informal networks. "SNA cracked the code of talking KM with the executive team. ", it says...
I am under the impression that there are major obstacle to the use of Social Network Analysis in corporate settings. It goes beyond the traditional legal issues regarding profiling of individuals, which incidentally are much more stringent in Europe than in the US.
The #1 problem with SNA surveys is that you actually ask people to give names. The #2 problem is that there can be tens of thousands of names to process. Employees will necessarily feel uneasy, to say the least, about answering questions about who is knowledgeable about this, and who is meeting with whom. –Why would the management want to analyze the social fabric of the company anyway ? Whose business is that ? Is that another trick for downsizing ? etc. I challenge the willingness of employees to participate in systems which coud be used to minimize the impact of their own eventual layoff!
I can only think of a few set of rules that would allow SNA to be performed in companies:
- Linking people together on the map should be an automated process, like analyzing the origin and destination of e-mails (a.k.a. Tacit Systems) or phone conversations.
- The interviewee owns his social network profile and it should not be used without his consent
- Only the names that the interviewee has actually declared could be seen on the map. Others would be hidden.
- Only aggregate results would be communicated to the management (no names)
Now having said that, what's the benefit after all?