Photo courtesy of jared
I bet this is how your organization looks like right now: a bunch of highly connected nodes scattered here and there. I bet as a decision maker you’re thinking you will do the impossible to keep these “hubs” on board. I bet as a knowledge worker you’re thinking you should be like one of those… believe me, you don’t. There are better positions that need to be filled, and being a hub is not one them.
I’m not saying that hubs –which are the most connected nodes in your organization’s network- aren’t important. They surely are, they shorten paths between members and insure the spread of information within the organization. However I firmly believe that they do not enhance the connectedness of the organization and here are some reasons why:
– Hubs may play a great role in connecting different nodes together, but like it or not, they are a threat to your organization. Envision how your organization’s network would suffer from the loss of a hub. Fragmentation of your network is the first consequence that comes to mind although it might not be an immediate one. Loss of knowledge is however the most important risk to consider since that the routes taken by information become much lengthier increasing the probability of its loss along the way.
– Hubs can also intentionally –when organization’s politics are in play- or unintentionally create cliques, which may hinder collaboration initiatives and create conflicts in the long term. This will surely harm any shared vision you instilled among your knowledge workers and damage your organization’s culture to great extent.
– It takes a great deal of social capital to become a Hub. Too often these central players can have a substantial position within the network as Go-to people when colleagues are seeking information or advice. However hubs can easily become bottlenecked and thereby end up using their time inefficiently and holding up work and innovation at myriad points in the network.
– And here is another issue most hubs might face. They may be well connected within the organization but that’s about it. Their connections revolve in a small world, a micro-sphere and they hardly step outside their little bubbles. Hubs don’t bring about competitive advantage because they evolve in the same-old-same-old environment obstructing their chances to innovate.
So again, I’m not saying that you needn’t interlace the network within your organization. I’m just pleading you to be careful while doing it. Organizations are complex systems where people and social objects evolve in an interwoven context and an off-the-top-of-my-head approach would suggest promoting an overall connectivity, thinking that the more connected these components are, the best they would interact. Actually, this has been proven to be too simplistic and it often ends up overwhelming employees and creating bottlenecks. Fostering innovation and better collaboration in the organization can only happen through targeting connectivity of the right expertise with the right influence in the right position.