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BLOG: How to apply the principles of network management to talent management

Maya Townsend and Bob Akerley | Jan. 25, 2012
Every CIO can agree that it's essential to keep the data network up. If it goes down, then so does the business—and potentially the CIO's career. Understanding and optimizing the network are key components of every successful CIO's role from their first day on the job to their last.

Missing Links. Another red flag is a missing link. If you look at the interplay between Software Delivery and Operations in Figure 2, you'll notice something interesting: There isn't one single connection between the two departments. The fact that there are no problem solving or expertise exchanges is problematic. What happens when a customized build is ready to be thrown over the wall for baseline maintenance and enhancements? If all goes well, there should be no problem. But, if there is any deviation from the plan—an undocumented bug, a critical and high maintenance client, a new technology used during development—this organization doesn't have an easy path for solving these problems or transferring expertise from Software Delivery to Operations. The lack of these links could cause ongoing, customer-facing issues.

Unaligned Links. One software development company bemoaned the lack of innovation in the company. An analysis showed that the problem wasnt a lack of innovation. The problem was that the creative minds in the company weren't connected to the implementers. The company was coming up with lots of great ideas, but none of the people who could implement them knew about them. Consequently, opportunity was lost.

Too Many Links. Often, people fall into the trap of thinking that the remedy to human network challenges is to connect everyone. Consider what would happen if, every time you needed to make a decision, you needed to talk with every single person in your department. It would take way too long to get things done. Similarly, too many links in a network can indicate an overabundance of bureaucracy, a broken system or people spending too much time on the wrong things. Too many links is often just as big a problem as the next red flag: orphans.

Orphans. Look at the ERP implementation department in Figure 2. Youll notice that this group is unconnected to any other department. Often, IT shops set up projects like this for good reason. For example, because the work is complex or high visibility, the projects are walled off so people can focus and resist distraction. However, this strategy can seriously impede knowledge sharing and coordination. Someone inside the project might discover a procedure that vastly simplifies a problem that someone outside has been working on for months. The outsider would never know. Or people outside might have information about projects with interdependencies with the ERP system that doesnt get transmitted until too late.

Human Network Opportunities

Just as analysis of the human network allows CIOs to monitor performance and mitigate risk, it also uncovers opportunities. Often, CIOs are not aware of the hidden subject matter experts and high performers buried in their organizations. Too often CIOs become aware of these people only after they leave.


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