Okay, I admit it. My Org Chart is certainly not bigger than yours. As a solo recruiter, it’s just me – one lonely, little box. “One man, alone . . . betrayed by the [Org Chart] he loves . . . ”
And, while I’m confessing today, I also admit my Org Chart is most certainly not as beautiful as yours, either. There are no other boxes around; nowhere to draw perfectly straight lines to. Nope, no ego-boosting or self-gloating just because my little box sits above your little box on 500-lb poster stock for the world to admire.
But, it’s not the fact that you have many more boxes and lines that I’m most envious of. It’s your “white space” I want. The problem is that white space is abundant for one fraction of a moment and sometimes scarce the next. And your white space, while slippery and nebulous by nature, is something nobody (or no organization) can take from you. It’s all yours . . . and we can’t have it.
At this point, you’re probably thinking I’ve floated over into the deep end of the pool . . . without my floaties on. And while I can’t argue that point, let me take a stab at illustrating the beauty of white space.
The image here shows a typical Org Chart ‘smashed down’ (image courtesy of OrgNet and Valdis Krebs). As you can imagine, the purple node in the middle is the Sr Manager, while the green nodes are Middle Managers, and the blue nodes are the Worker-Bees making it happen. The dark black lines are beautiful, sure. But they simply illustrate authority and hierarchy.
If you look a little closer, however, you’ll see the thin, gray lines. These lines show directional flow. See, if something flows through a network, we can map it. These network contagions include happiness, information, gossip, germs, trust (no kidding, trust can be mapped), violence, etc. . . and in this case, information flow. What the thin gray lines show us is invisible to the human eye, and in some cases, even the trained anthropologist. And the thin, gray lines show us what cannot be seen through the beautiful boxes and lines of the Org Chart.
And even though I can try to steal your nodes by recruiting them away, and I can try to take your contagions (or spread my own through your network), the one thing I can’t take from you is the “white space”, or the medium in which the contagion flows.
So, in closing today, stop ignoring your white space and treating it like a red-headed stepchild. Love your white space. Embrace it. Coddle it and give it some “TLC”. You just might be surprised at the good things that come out of showing your white space a little love this year.
Josh Letourneau is the owner of Knight & Bishop, an Executive Search and Human Capital Intelligence firm, with an emerging focus on Social Network Analysis (SNA). Nope, not like MySpace, but more like who is connected to whom in organizations and how does that impact their influence on decision making and P.O.V.s. And you can learn more about all of this on his new blog .