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Blueprint Action #5: Identify Influencers, Energizers, and Blockers

In every organization there are go-to people who make everything work. They are the subject matter experts, the influencers, the energizers—the people the company can least afford to lose. Yet, ask senior leaders who those people are, and research shows they can’t identify the majority of them. That’s because the go-to people are often buried in the hierarchy, adding tremendous value without recognition, and surprisingly are often introverts, not extroverts.

How do you uncover and leverage these hidden superstars?

An increasing number of companies conduct an organizational network analysis (ONA). A company can identify its true influencers and energizers by tracking and mapping the day-to-day workflow, collaboration, and expertise sharing. As Professor Rob Cross, the foremost expert on ONA and co-manager with i4cp of the Connected Commons consortium, describes it: “ONA can provide an X-ray into the inner workings of an organization—a powerful means of making invisible patterns of information flow and collaboration in strategically important groups visible.”

And while such analysis offers many benefits, if you are trying to affect culture change, it can also help identify potential culture ambassadors.

When renovating culture, it’s important to identify these potential champions and make sure they are enlisted as proponents of the change, because these hidden stars will likely have influence on a significant proportion of the workforce. They are the people who provide informal leadership, span organizational boundaries, and unleash the latent passion in the workforce. By conducting an ONA, those indispensable people are illuminated through a simple survey or through the analysis of interactions on internal communication platforms (like e-mail, Slack, Teams, etc.).

Simultaneously, it’s equally important to identify blockers. These people may be bottlenecks for communication, or worse, could be naysayers with the power to stop a culture renovation in its tracks. Knowing who these people are and working with or around them (or in some cases removing them entirely) is a step that should not be overlooked.

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Kevin Oakes
Kevin is the CEO and co-founder of i4cp. He is a world-recognized thought leader on the topics of corporate culture, the future of work, and learning, and is the author of the bestselling book Culture Renovation: 18 Leadership Actions to Build an Unshakeable Company.