I recently found the area of work that I am going to focus on for my Masters thesis, which is organisational network analysis. This quite new field of study sits at the nexus of computer science, organisational theory, social psychology and social science and so I am having to get my head around some very new concepts. I’ve been reading Linked by Albert-Lazlo Barabasi which walks the reader through the development of network theory. A crucial point was when research showed that networks are not random, but hubs form and there are properties of these hubs that determine how crucial they are to the network and how quickly they acquire new links. I’m very excited about this work, but also acutely aware of the fact that there are areas where I am really lacking, for example in computer science. Surely there are ways to examine which of an organisation’s Twitter followers are most instrumental in passing their message through that network, but I wouldn’t know where to start in designing such a system. Networks are about visualisations, but I have been struggling with where to start in setting them up.
Alongside all of this, I have been developing my facilitation skills for a couple of workshops I want to run next year. So I attended the Deep Dive hosting course at Peer Academy. After that course, which I enjoyed very much and found incredibly valuable, I was sent a link to a manifesto on connectivity. Imagine my joy when it turned out that the organisation that had written the manifesto run an online system for visualising networks!
It feels like this goes some small way to supporting the ideas that will go into my research – there are people within organisations who are hubs because of their varied interests or social groups or skills and it is important for organisations to know who these are and to work with them, especially at times of organisational change. Given my recent network experience that reconnected me with a childhood friend, I am feeling very hub-like at the moment.