Informal Networks LO7699

Dr. Ivan Blanco (BLANCO@BU4090.BARRY.EDU)
Fri, 31 May 1996 11:11:05 -0400 (EDT)

Replying to LO7543 --

> Date: Wed, 22 May 1996 10:15:53 -0400
> From: Brock Vodden <>
> David
> At 08:38 AM 5/20/96 -0700, you wrote:
> > I have an intriguing thought I would like your help with. While recently
> > attending a conference, where we discussed various organizational approaches
> > in business, the topic of informal work networks was raised. Informal

<<< some good stuff deleted here >>>

> > That is what caught my attention. Could these informal networks be made the
> > formal organizations? Instead of taking the traditional approach of
> > assembling a team comprising representatives from the various constituencies
> > involved with the project, could you formalize an existing network?

I am not sure how far this discussion has gone because I have been away
again. But I want to add the following. I don't know if one can really
formalize the informal networks! Once formalized is not an informal
network any more, and new informal networks may develop that would take
into caonsideration that the network can be formalized by "management."
Am I making any sense?

I believe that the informal networks, or their functions, can be
incorporated into the formal part of the organizations by determining what
the IN's do for the participants and providing similar "services." This
does not guarantee that new ones would not develop, but management can use
the informal networks "to learn a lot about what is really going on in
their companies.

> An intriguing thought, indeed.
> A short while ago, I would have replied quickly that the informal networks
> will continue to operate and do not require support. I would have
> suggested that the very act of "official recognition" might destroy some
> of these networks.
> I have been forced to re-think the proposition, largely because of the
> fallout from the down-sizing mania that has gripped North America. One of
> the effects of down-sizing is the destruction of informal networks, due
> to, I suppose, management either not knowing they existed or not
> appreciating the role they were playing in the organization.
> I still have mixed feelings about taking this step. I think of some of the
> informal roles that I have played in organizations throughout my career,
> and wonder if part of the reason for their effectiveness was the fact that
> they were not part of a formal structure.

Again, the informal network and the formal organization structure and
processes are just two parts of the same thing - the organization! There
is no way for an organization to exist without an informal network, or at
least I don't know of one that does. These networks develop because
management cannot really be expected to indentify everyone's needs and
satisfy them. The "job" that the informal networks perform is then very
essential in any organization and it can be dysfunctional to the
organization, when management shows a lack of concern for the people

<<< some other deletions here >>>

> do with my official position. Some of the reasons people gave for coming
> to me (besides my particular knowledge and expertise) included these:
> * they knew that I would treat their concerns seriously and objectively
> * they knew that I would keep their concerns confidential
> * they felt that I was a good listener
> * I had shown respect for their competencies by seeking their advice in
> matters where they obviously more competent than I
> * they did not want someone to tell them what to do, but rather someone to
> help them think through the matter and come to their own conclusion.
> I am fairly certain that some of these individuals might have seen me as
> less approachable if this role had been more formalized. Formalization
> might have affected the openness of some when I approached them for
> advice.

What I see in your case is that you are a very concerned manager. Your
official position must have had something to do with this, because you
probably became the conveyor of these people's concerns to those who could
more or less do something about it. This process does not have to be very
vocal, but those who relied on you probably got something done through you
at times. It is the combination of your position and the fact that you
treat poeple like what they are: People!

-- Ivan,


*************************************************************** R. IVAN BLANCO, Ph.D. Voice 305 899-3515 Assoc. Prof. & Director Fax 305 892-6412 International Business Programs Andreas School of Business _________E-Mail Addresses________ Barry University Bitnet: Blanco%bu4090@Barryu Miami Shores, FL 33161-6695 Internet: <<<<< ---------------- >>>>> "Si un hombre fuera necesario para sostener el Estado, este Estado no deberia existir." "If one man were necessary to sustain a Nation, this Nation should not exist." Simon Bolivar ===============================================================

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>