Welcome to the Evaluation Learning Circle blog space! We invite you to register to our site and create your own blog to share resources, ideas, and stimulate conversations about leadership development evaluation that are important to you. Here's my first blog post.... In the last few years there has been growing interest among those in the leadership development field to develop and strengthen leadership networks. One of the tools for understanding networks is Social Network Analysis (SNA).
LLC, through its Community Seed Fund, recently supported four members of the Community (Bruce Hoppe, Meredith Emmett, Dianne Russell, and Odin Zackman) to test the usefulness of this methodology in different network contexts. The team produced a very informative summary about the outcomes of this project. One of the more interesting findings was that network maps can be a valuable tool for generating group reflection about itself. The study raised the question about which networks would find this a valuable tool and which might not. There is some indication that those networks that have a clear purpose, are more bounded and formalized, and that have outside funding, may be more motivated and interested in using network maps to deepen their understanding of themselves as a network. Another interesting lesson learned is that the interpretation of network maps is full of complexities. There is no single interpretation of what the maps mean. This means that the maps can lead to many interesting conversations. The summary does a nice job of specifying and evaluating the outcomes of the three projects that were part of the study. It provides valuable guidance to others who may consider undertaking an SNA of their leadership networks. In addition, the report analyzes the three networks along 11 dimensions. These will be helpful to you if you are looking to better understand the networks you are part of regardless of whether you use SNA or not. While our understanding of networks is still very much evolving, SNA is a promising tool to help us "see" leadership networks.