IAF Methods

Social Influence Networks Mapping

by for . Last edit was about 2 years ago
180 - 360 26 - 50
Social Network Mapping can be used in a number of ways such as innovation mapping, research mapping and management relations mapping for succession planning.
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To create a map of the most influential relationships people have within an organization and to To experience the power of bring self-consciousness to informal relationships.


You will be able to upload attachments once after you create the method.


  • A few hundred cards of 5 colours


Types of participants: If done in a small group, everyone in the group. If it is done for a large organization everyone needs to be interviewed or asked to fill in a questionnaire and a small group can do the work. After the information is gathered, a number of software programs are available to work the data.

Pre-Work Required: The focus question needs to be created. If it is a representative group, a questionnaire or phone survey needs to be done.


1. In this session, we will map the relationships that are influential in our decision-making processes. We are not necessarily interested in only formal relationships but also in our informal ones.

1. We are going to be asking three questions.
- a. Who are the colleagues you most frequently consult with?
- b. Who do you turn to for expertise?
- c. Who either boosts or drains your energy levels.

2. Take three sheets of paper and put at the top of the first one Most Frequently Consult.  At the top of the second one write Turn to for Expertise. At the top of the third one write: Boosts /  Drains Energy.

3. Take 15 minutes to fill in the names of people who fulfil these criteria. More names is not necessarily better. Someone with a niche may be at the edge of the map, as will someone who spends a lot of time with customers. What is important is that we create a picture of who influences us and who we influence.

4. After 15 minutes ask if they are finished.

5. Now we want to begin creating the map (there are computer programs that can do this for very large companies.). Please count the number of names you have on your three lists. I would like to know the number on each list and the total number.

6. For the sake of beginning, we want the person with the largest number of names to start. This helps the mapping process but it does not mean that they will stay in the centre. Who has more than 25 names? (Select the person with the most names.)

7. Put the name of this person on one colour post-it and place it in the centre of the board. Ask this person to place each of the names in their first list on a different coloured post-it (one name per post-it), put their initials on the post-its and number the post-its.

8. Arrange the relationship post-its some distance from the persons name and around the about the same distance apart (see diagram one)

9. Ask for the person who has in their first list one or more of the same names. Select the person with the most overlap.

10. Put them up, their relationship and arrows. Make sure people put their initials on the post-its and that they number the post-its. (See Diagram Two). When a relationship is name two or more times put the all of the initials on that post-it.

11. Continue this process It is possible to ask people to put up their cards on their own. And putting in the arrows.

12. You may be required to move the post-its around to get the best diagram.

13. Move to the question of Who to you turn to for expertise?? Repeat the steps 7 to 10 for this question.

14. Move to the question of Who either boosts or drains your energy levels and repeat steps 7 to 10.

15. Once a draft is completed, go to the discussion part of the exercise.

(The discussion depends on the focus of the map.)

16. What are some of items that stand out?

17. Where are there surprises?

18. Where are there links that need to stronger?

19. Where are there silos?

20. Where are teams not integrating?

21. Where is collaboration not happening when it should?


Move to the next exercise or close.

Some care needs to be exercised with this process. Leaders may feel threatened if they hold high positions but are isolated in the informal maps. These maps should be kept confidential. The names may be coded when shown to others. People may realize that they have a great deal or little influence. They may realize that they have little influence on their boss, etc


Follow-Up Required: Prepare the map and distriubte

Usual or Expected Outcomes: a map of influences within the organization


Derived from: The IAF Methods Database Editors have developed this method based on an article in Business Week at http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_09/b3973083.htm

Alternative names: Social Network Mapping (SNM)

Comments (1) ( 4.0  avg / 2 ratings)

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  • Could be really revealing. I think "boosts" and "drains energy" should be separate questions.

    about 2 years ago