Tracing of social networks

The applications of social network analyses are extremely diverse. In this way, it is possible to identify where there are knowledge bearers within an organisation, who have remained inconspicuous until now. We can also utilise communication more efficiently if we know how frequently who communicates with whom, and who exerts influence over others. It is one way in which the dissemination of innovations can be channelled via a specific group of people.

Organisation

  • Duration
    Short (up to 30 minutes)
  • Complexity
    Medium
  • Group size
    2 to 6 persons

Description Long

This is an approach that promotes a better understanding of a target group, work within an organisation or between organisations, and the development of appropriate solutions for these people. We are not interested in the individuals and their characteristics, but rather in their connections and interdependencies. We often neglect essential aspects or overshoot with our offers, because the organisation and cooperation of our clients, colleagues, etc. is different from what we have assumed. These people often do not need specific assistance, since they are already getting mutual support from within their social network. As a result, it is often more helpful to further strengthen existing connections, rather than coming up with new solutions. For example, a team that was working on a design for a kitchen for people in wheelchairs, realised that their clients tend to be integrated into family units. Therefore, this type of kitchen must be designed with properties that promote coexistence. Designing a kitchen solely for the needs of someone in a wheelchair could have caused this coexistence to suffer.

Preparation

We must accurately define and demarcate the network, before we begin with this type of analysis. The data is collected by means of different survey procedures (e.g. recommendation, name generators).  In smaller groups, this can be done, simply by questioning and observation. There are now also online tools available for more complex data collection.

 

For analysis and presentation, sociograms are often created; these depict individuals as nodes and relationships as lines. Representation via a matrix is another option. 

Execution

Give the participants ten to fifteen minutes to think about the core functions of their model, and another twenty to thirty minutes to create it. Afterwards, allow the participants some time to reflect on their creation. Thereafter, everyone meets to present their models and clarify the underlying assumptions, ideas and also their intentions.

Tools list

  • Paper and pencil

References

Author: Thomas Duschlbauer. Der Querdenker: Das Toolkit mit 30 ausgewählten Methoden (German); ISBN: 9783907100639

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