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Paolo Taticchi. Walmart Tell us if something is incorrect. Out of stock. Get In-Stock Alert. Delivery not available. Pickup not available. About This Item We aim to show you accurate product information. Manufacturers, suppliers and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it. See our disclaimer. Purple shows low constraint: He communicates with people in several other networks besides his own, which makes him more likely to get novel information that will lead to good ideas.

Orange, who communicates only with people within his network, is less likely to generate ideas, even though he may be creative.

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The sociologist Ronald Burt has developed a measure that indicates whether someone is in a brokerage position. Known as constraint, it captures how limited a person is when gathering unique information. In one study, Burt followed the senior leaders at a large U. They used a survey to solicit such ideas from the managers and at the same time gather information on their networks. Senior executives then scored each of the submitted ideas for their novelty and potential value. Using the ideation signature—low constraint—was far more powerful: Supply chain managers who exhibited it in their networks were significantly more likely to generate good ideas than managers with high constraint.

A study Paul did at a large software development company bolsters this finding. And those five people typically talked only to one another. Such high-constraint networks are quite common in organizations, especially those that do specialized work.


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At the software company, relational analytics was able to pinpoint a few engineers who did span multiple networks. Management then generated a plan for encouraging them to do what they were naturally inclined to, and soon saw a significant increase in both the quantity—and quality—of ideas they proposed for product improvements. Developing a good idea is no guarantee that people will use it.


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Getting ideas implemented requires influence. Purple shows higher aggregate prominence. Orange may spread ideas faster, but purple can spread ideas further because her connections are more influential. A large medical device manufacturer that Paul worked with tried that approach when it was launching new compliance policies.

Rather, the greatest influencers are people who have strong connections to others, even if only to a few people.

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Moreover, their strong connections in turn have strong connections of their own with other people. A similar logic is used by search engines to rank-order search results. In each of nine divisions at the medical device manufacturer, relational analytics identified the five individuals who had the highest aggregate prominence scores. The company asked for their thoughts on the new policies. About three-quarters viewed them favorably. Staffing a team that will get work done efficiently seems as if it should be simple. Just tap the people who have the best relevant skills. The purple team members are deeply connected with one another—showing high internal density.

This indicates that they work well together. For that, you need relational analytics measuring team chemistry and the ability to draw on outside information and expertise. One issue was that diversity at the firm had only two real variables, tenure and function. The other variables—race, gender, and education—were consolidated within functions. Nevertheless, the results showed that diversity in those two areas had little impact on performance.

A slight increase in internal density and external range would save 2, hours. Turning to the relational data, though, offered better insight. The researchers found that two social variables were associated with higher performance. The first was internal density, the amount of interaction and interconnectedness among team members.

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High internal density is critical for building trust, taking risks, and reaching agreement on important issues. On a team that has high external range, each member can reach outside the team to experts who are distinct from the contacts of other members. That makes the team better able to source vital information and secure resources it needs to meet deadlines. The structural signature for efficient teams is therefore high internal density plus high external range. Teams with the efficiency signature would most likely fail as innovation units, which benefit from some disagreement and strife.

The members also have high external range, or wide, diverse connections, which will help them gain buy-in for their innovations. What else makes for a successful team of innovators? You might think that putting your highest-performing employees together would produce the best results, but research suggests that it might have negative effects on performance. And while the conventional wisdom is that teams are more creative when they comprise members with different points of view, research also indicates that demographic diversity is not a good predictor of team innovation success.

In our experience, even staffing an innovation team with ideators often produces no better than average performance. But if you turn to relational analytics, you can use the same variables you use for team efficiency—internal density and external range—to create promising innovation teams. The formula is a bit different, though: The innovation signature is high external range and low internal density.

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That is, you still want team members with wide, nonoverlapping social networks influential ones, if possible to source diverse ideas and information. But you do not want a tight-knit team. Greater interaction within a team results in similar ways of thinking and less discord.

The most innovative teams have disagreements and discussion—sometimes even conflict —that generate the creative friction necessary to produce breakthroughs. The high external range is needed not just to bring in ideas but also to garner support and buy-in.

For several years, Paul worked with a large U. Each of its global product-development centers had a team of subject-matter experts focused on that challenge. We get the people with the right functional backgrounds, who have consistently done innovative work, and we make sure there is a mix of them from different backgrounds and that they are different ages. So the manager instead chose engineers who had worked on projects with different offices and worked in different areas of the center—creating a team that naturally had a higher external range.

It so happened that such a team showed lower internal density as well. Its members felt free to debate, and they ran tests to resolve differences of opinion. Once they found a new procedure, they went back to their external connections, using them as influencers who could persuade others to validate their work.

After five years it had generated almost twice as many as all the other teams combined. In response, the company began supplementing its attribute analytics with relational analytics to reconfigure the innovation teams at its other locations. As organizations develop deep areas of expertise, almost inevitably functions, departments, and divisions become less and less able to work together. Each color indicates a department. People within the departments are deeply connected, but only one or two people in any department connect with people in other departments.

We assess the degree to which an organization is siloed by measuring its modularity. Most simply, modularity is the ratio of communication within a group to communication outside the group.

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When the ratio of internal to external communication is greater than , the group is detrimentally siloed. The 60 employees at its Chicago office were divided among four departments: business development, operations, marketing and PR, and finance. Typical of silos, each department had different ideas about what was going on. Analysis showed that all four departments exceeded the ratio of internal to external contacts. The most extreme case was operations, with a ratio of Of course, operations was the department with its finger most squarely on the pulse of consumers who visited the site.