By Rob Cross and Andrew Parker(Harvard Business School Publishing, $29.95)
Organization charts lie. That is the initial conclusion to be drawn from this fine work from Cross and Parker who, though not actually heirs to writing-implement fortunes, certainly know how to "pen it" when it comes to telling the truth about what really drives the action in organizations.
This ain't trivia, folks. More than ever, effective collaboration is a requirement for success in organizations. It is as if managers have just figured out that in order for a company to make money, people have to work together. What a concept! Five years ago we were hearing about the informal formation of communities of practice, in which people with similar skills decided to work as teams on specific projects without telling anybody else. As e-mail became the preferred way to communicate, certain people were labeled as "information hubs," like centers of bicycle wheels. Hubs are good.
Employees can benefit from awareness of social connections within their companies. In most of my prior assignments, my colleagues came to me to share their secrets, problems, fears, and resentments—the kinds of things they would never tell their bosses. Why come to me? Because since I would listen without judgment and had no power, I could not act upon any of the information without dire consequences for others and myself. So when it came time for a raise, my boss would ask around about me and find out that, though I indeed had no authority, I had all the information. The conclusion: I got the money.
So what we have here is another proof that strategy is everything and that everything needs a strategy, including how to create leverage and energy from a careful analysis of the social networks within your organization. If you do nothing else, buy this book for the contents of Appendix B, a treasure trove of diagnostic tools that will give you a leg up on building network connectivity in your workplace. You want a promotion? Go build a network. —S.C.