This case tells you why active ONA beats passive any time.

Why Active Data Beats Passive Data in Organizational Network Analysis

A global company in the food & beverage industry set out to better understand how their leadership teams interact within and between each other. They decided to embark on an organizational network analysis journey – but what was the right approach?

The company started collecting and analyzing email and calendar metadata. This passive data helped them to understand the connectivity between people. At the same time, the company asked Innovisor to help them with collecting and analyzing responses via survey – known as active data – to understand the context of the connectivity between people.

Different approaches for different purposes

This company is not the only company that investigates networks of their people to succeed with their organizational initiatives. It is a journey many other companies are embarking on.

The challenge with such a journey is to decide what approach fits the organizational objective. Is it to get decision critical insights that allows you to take action? Or is to get informed about the networks?

The answers to these questions help you decide what approach works best for you. If you need to understand what makes a high performing team, a company should go beyond understanding that two people interact; it should understand what they interacted on. And that’s why the food and beverage company needed the insights from active data.

More information on different dimension of ONA in The Missing Dimension When You Assess ONA

People go to different people for different reasons

Via the active data, Innovisor uncovered the existence of relationships and knew exactly the nature of these relationships were.

Five questions were asked in which leaders could nominate other leaders. These questions ranged from who they go to for help & advice in their daily work to who they go to for career development. This gave insight in what the different networks were used for.

Evidence showed that only 15% of all relationships were found in all five network questions

This key finding confirmed that people seek different people for different reasons. And this was not an isolated case. Innovisor has worked with many more clients, where the overlap between five different questions was even smaller.

This context of relationships resulted in crucial insights. Insights which would not be possible to get through passive data collection. The company was now able:

  1. to identify who the key people were within the 5 different networks: for sharing information, providing help & advice, mentoring, spreading energy, and assisting with career development, and
  2. to engage these key people in actions linked to the purpose of why other people go to them. This maximizes the success on the leadership teams


The key insights helped the client better understand the diversity of networks and work with the leaders on specific areas. The areas that key people were involved in after the diagnostic included:

  1. Innovation – the leaders identified as hubs in information sharing in their own areas were engaged with for inter-departmental knowledge exchange, exposing leadership teams to different perspectives.
  2. Onboarding – the leaders identified as hubs in areas of personal development and mentoring were engaged in onboarding new members of leadership teams.

The knowledge of what people interact on, combined with the identification of key people, once again helped to engage the right people in the right actions! Having such specific, decision-critical insights also allowed for immediate implementation. The ability to act – quickly and effectively – is exactly why active ONA beats passive any time!

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