268Re: ONA for change management: locating opinion leaders
- Jul 13, 2006Thank you Wally, Paul, Victoria, and Karen,
It was great to have this meaty discussion. I am not going forward with
this project because of my own time constraints (gotta get this book
done!), and also because the scope (3,000 people) was beyond my
capacity. I did summarize and offer back combined insights of ONA-prac
to my requestor, which I am happy to share, below.
Some questions you might pose in the survey:
1. If you wanted to learn how an organizational change would affect you
personally, who would be the five people you would contact first to
2. You receive organizational announcements and communications from many
different people. Of the people who send these announcements, list up to
five whose messages are consistently the most credible.
3. What are the corporate communications vehicles you rely on most to
get more information about changes that affect you (multiple choice:
intranet, newsletters, etc.)?
4. (if appropriate). Who are the people you rely on most to help you
understand changes in policies and procedures?
Obviously, the questions need to be phrased in the language of the
Collecting demographics is the most important. You'll want to know the
geography (region, office location, whatever), job function, position in
hierarchy, and so on if you are going to end up with a representative
advisory/teaching group or council. Because it's a merged organization,
you'll want to know the heritage (legacy company) each person is from.
Context. When you ask people to fill out a survey, they would need to
know what the purpose is and what will be done with the results. If you
did the survey as part of a broader survey, it would be easier, but in
any event, people want to know the reason that a question is being
asked. In a time of great organizational uncertainty, I'm not sure you
would get valid answers. If people know that you are asking for the
names of people who can most influence them to accept change, then it
will be perceived as manipulative.
Interviews. I think the most important thing to do here is to have some
interviews with people in this target group and feel them out for how
they'd respond to questions like those above if they received them in an
interview. Some of the people I talked with suggested that you find the
opinion leaders entirely through an interview process, if there is a way
to segment the organization into meaningful clusters to identify people
to interview. Some names could also be generated by doing some "mining"
of corporate web sites, notes groups, newsletters, and so on, to
identify potential opinion leaders. Boston Consulting Group works with
opinion leaders quite a bit (though not in this particular context).
What they do is to get the "top" opinion leader from each of a set of
groups, take this group and ask "who's missing?" This snowball approach
could also yield good results.
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