Everyone who is part of an organization has experienced dysfunction and loss of time associated with long lasting meetings to make decisions. Nowadays brilliant decisions are more than ever the result of a good team work, not of individual genius.

Nowadays teamwork is a must, but why is a team smarter than another?

teamResearchers have found the reason why some teams perform better than other in solving the same tasks. “Collective intelligence” depends on specific factors:

  1. Good emotion-reading skills are fundamental, in order to contribute equally in the team (rather than letting someone dominate the others);
  2. It’s important to understand the emotional state of each other by reading it only from the faces, especially the eyes.

This is why, according to 2 studies (published Anita Woolley, Thomas W. Malone and Christopher F. Chabris with Alex Pentland and Nada Hashmi of M.I.T. in 2010 in the journal Science[1]), teams with more women outperform teams with more men. The higher “team’s intelligence” in the first case is partly explained by the fact that women, on average, are better at “mind-reading” than men.

teamHow can we measure the way employees interact with one another and collaborate in teams?

Organizational network analysis (ONA) solutions –  like the one featured by the tool HOW-4 – provide a powerful visual representation of the way collaboration and teamwork play out in the organization. What is organization network analysis? A comprehensive overview is offered by Rob Cross, Professor of Global Business at Babson College. Professor Cross explains that informal networks of relationships within organizations “have become central to performance and strategy execution”. According to Cross, the “Organizational network analysis (ONA) can provide an x-ray into the inner workings of an organization”.

The network analysis can reveal contrast between the organization’s formal structure (the organizational chart with the traditional, hierarchical chain of command) and informal interactions among employees and teams. Managers need to explore new ways to coordinate and align teams, to get them to share information and cooperate, and to find out how to exploit invaluable opportunities provided the by informal networks within the organization, to quickly translate their strategy into results.

Organizational network analysis provides actionable results

ONA is in use today to identify influential experts in the workforce. It is used also to make the information flow and collaboration across the organization visible where decisions are made, uncovering inefficient bottlenecks and silos. It can point critical people with high levels of informal influence as well as help to identify peripheral people which may be an underutilized resource and demonstrate the extent to which a certain team lacks access to the people, information, or the capabilities it needs to achieve its objectives and become separated from the overall network.

The traditional way to study the organizational networks is a survey designed to collect network data, with questions to understand the relationships between employees and teams. As an example, the people in the organization are asked to identify people they trust and go to for help with decisions: this allows the company to see whether the relationships are mutual. Mapping the results (in an organizational network map like the one presented below, the nodes are sized by “popularity”, or number of incoming ties) reveals the strength of the employees’ relationships, the size and reach of their networks, their ability to influence, collaborate and lead. It enables to measure collaboration based on the real activity and information flow and to understand how teams collaborate internally and with other parts of the organization.


Organizational network analysis with the aid of the state-of-the-art HOW-4 platform is the new starting point for building efficient organizations. Our methodology enables users to know and map the real functioning of organizations by analyzing the work relationships and the level of interaction among resources. Through such informal connections (across company charts), information, problem-solving, operational support, effectiveness, productivity and ideas travel. The HOW-4 Organizational network analysis (ONA) visualizes and interprets the characteristics of the interactions (kind of, density, strength, centrality), the type (nature and quantity) and the performer’s identity (broker, hub, bridge) to spot and interpret the relationship and exchange of value in organisational and business processes.

Fabio Fedel,  Managing Partner HOW-4


[1] Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others. By Anita Woolley, Thomas W. Malone and Christopher F. Chabris, Jan. 16, 2015