There is no shortage of strategy formulation. The problem is strategy execution! Every executive with whom I have worked has challenging stories about how the brilliant 400 page strategic analysis of their business – prepared by high-priced consultant – could never be implemented because the company lacks the resources and talent to convert academic exercises into actionable steps.

Service organizations rely very heavily on their basis of knowledge, which is often gathered through tenure, especially given the current challenges as Baby Boomers make up the largest percentage of the workforce. But over the next five years, many of these Baby Boomers will choose to retire and move to the lake and there simply isn’t a replenishable pool of equally talented and knowledgeable workers. In a situation where knowledge is not valued until it begins to cascade through the organization and leak through retirement, it is critical to find a way to map those subject matter experts by their peers. Social Network Analysis can become a useful decision support tool for the planning and execution of these key strategic initiatives.

The questions then become how do you identify critical expertise, how do you map the source of that expertise, and how do you establish a practical knowledge transfer process? The answer is a peer evaluation through parallel queries with each recipient responding by selecting from a list of names. The result is a critical list of key players who can A) help with the development of up and coming key players and B) uncover a number of surprises in key organizational resources.

It is interesting that subjectivity is ultimately reduced with peer evaluations, and the popularity contest inevitably diminishes. As you attempt to identify communities or practices of expertise, you tend to highlight strategic vulnerabilities in critical skill assets that you either need and don’t have or those that are few and far between. Through this process, you can identify isolated and highly underused individuals and develop a precisely targeted training and knowledge continuity plan for carrying key strategic initiatives across geographic, functional and business unit boundaries.


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