A company founded by two Polish scientists from Wrocław is disrupting the way organisations work. The story of Network Perspective shows how individual researchers can lead management innovations, successfully competing with large companies, and how at times innovation needs time to get market traction. Network Perspective required almost ten years to turn academic research on networks to a practical solution for companies to become leaner, stimulate cooperation, and find hidden talents.
Reinventing organisational chart
“Our goal was to reinvent the organisational chart. Everyone knows it – the tree chart that represents the corporate structure, the hierarchy, dependencies as well as workflow. For me, it’s incredible how such a limited tool could still be so useful. That was our starting point – if we found a way to present actual data about how people and teams collaborate within an organisation, it could transform management”, says Anita Zbieg, CEO of Network Perspective (aka Mapaorganizacji.pl) and a PhD graduate from Wrocław University of Economics.
More than ten years ago Anita was researching her thesis on organisational network analysis (ONA) as a method of evolution for organisational structures. Together with software engineer Blazej Zak and a PhD graduate from Wrocław University of Science and Technology, they started to work on the software that would be able to visualise interactions among organisation members with network graphs.
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The early solution they came up with was straightforward but already very useful for the first Polish corporation that was open enough to test it – a copper mining giant KGHM. “Using our software we mapped cooperation flow. Just by doing this we helped the partner company to identify key people and barriers of cooperation within the complex organisation with mines in three different continents. It was an eye-opening moment for us,” says Anita Zbieg.
Helping become or stay lean
Since then Network Perspective has evolved to a universal tool that can be used by both corporations and startups. The first need it in their effort to become agile. The latter on the other hand have to face a different challenge – how not to lose the agility when scaling up and at the same time not to fall into complete chaos.
Network Perspective has been one of the first ONA software-as-a-service. However, the scientists decided to develop their project organically – bootstrapping forever. “For us, the research and commercial projects are not only about business and career but also about lifestyle. We believe we can stay innovative, competitive and scale up globally maximising our productivity, which is a separate challenge on its own,” says Anita Zbieg. “Our strategy focuses on close and long-lasting cooperation with the clients such as mBank, Burda Media or Samsung.”
Visualizing the real cooperation
The Network Perspective platform has evolved from being just an auxiliary tool for management consultants to stand-alone SaaS that gathers real-time behavioural interaction data about emails and meetings through MS Office 365 and G-Suite integrations and shows the real organisational structure. “We are very concerned about the user privacy. Our integrations don’t read the e-mails analyses the metadata – when and to whom the message was sent,” underlines Anita Zbieg.
Visualising this data in a network graph helps anyone immediately spot the crucial organisational roles – central connectors (who coordinate the work of teams), brokers who (bridge the groups) and peripherals (lone specialists that are at high risk of leaving the organisation).
“This is just a beginning, and we use the data for further studies on wasting collaboration potential, models for suggesting the best connections in networks or predicting the future flaws in the structure – such as a key specialist leaving the organisation”.
Network Perspective has already accessed big corporate clients from different industries and although being developed by a small team competes with well-funded companies – Humanyze, TrustSphere, Workylitics or Syndio.
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