The basic structure of any organisation is its network of people and their communication. However, not many are aware of the social capital that exists in an organisation.
While there is a formal hierarchy and reporting structure in most organisations, there also exists less structured relationships, which contributes indirectly for the success of an organisation.
Mapping these informal networks and dynamics of the company is Delhi-based Orglens. Founded in 2019 by Santhosh Babu, the startup helps organisations understand their collective social capital and leverage that for business advantage.
Orglens uses its technology platform to visualise and analyse the informal networks in organisations and helps make decisions and insights on strategy, engagement, execution challenges, innovation potential culture, inclusion, collaboration, and high potential employees.
Santhosh believes that most of the assessments and diagnostics in organisations are currently done without considering the informal organisation and the trusted relationships employees have.
“Orglens helps understand the energy flow and acupressure points in organisations, particularly those with many degrees of complexity. Till now, other than the organisation structure and chart, we had no tool to visualise the complex adaptive organisation,” says Santhosh.
He says that while one could be a network that gets the day-to-day work done, another would be the social network within an organisation comprising people who interact and meet socially. There could be another trusted network where one would go to get advice on career advancements and solutions for career issues.
In the past one year, Orglens has done ‘organisation network analysis’ for companies like Nestle, PropTiger, Bharat Serums and Vaccines, Sterlite Power, Western Digital, etc, and plans to have 100 clients this year.
Santhosh got the idea to explore the concept of social capital when he met Dr Karen Stephenson, an expert in social network analysis, a few years ago. After discussing the concept with her, he was intrigued, and since then he wanted to do something around this area. Three years ago, he put a small team to work on this and started incubating Orglens.
Prior to this, Santhosh was the Chairman of OD Alternatives, a boutique consulting firm in the field of Organisation Transformation and Leadership development, for 23 years. He is also an author, and was a columnist with Business Today, The Economic Times, and Hindu Business Line.
The 53-year-old entrepreneur is also a visiting faculty at TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences) and has conducted classes at ISB and The University of Chicago.
How does it work?
Santhosh says, formal structures and leaders remain an integral part of organisations. However, we must also develop the ability to look beyond the organisational chart to see, understand, and engage the informal and invisible structure supporting the organisation. When we do that, we can see multiple networks in action.
To understand these connections, Orglens first understands the business context and then discusses and decides on the scope and timelines of the project. It then starts collecting data from employees through an online survey.
Later, the 10 member team pre-analyses, quality checks, and validates the data to create insights. Based on this, it prepares a report. Once it is done, the data is presented to the stakeholders. Orglens also conducts workshops on request to facilitate the understanding of the data, and designs next steps on ‘what to’ and ‘what not-to’.
Leaders who can build social networks in organisations, understand and see the social networks, and use these networks effectively to deal with a crisis, drive change, build culture and engagement can be more effective than leaders who only use the formal structures in organisations.
The startup charges Rs 10 lakh for each study, which is also the annual fee for the platform.
“Since we started in December 2019, we have helped many organisations understand who their key influencers are, what is the level of collaboration between departments and functions, and what is the level of inclusion and engagement,” says Santhosh.
Industry perspective and plans ahead
As per Markets and Market, the global network analytics market is expected to grow from $ 1.4 billion in 2019 to $3.6 billion by 2024.
According to the startup, as social networks are fundamental building blocks of organisations and communities, almost all challenges in the market can be addressed through the insights generated through this.
“This way, our tool could soon replace a large number of traditional tools that are used to measure organisational culture, engagement, inclusion, etc.”
Orglens considers players such as TrustSphere and other academicians who individually consult with network analysis as its competitors.
Santhosh says, “We come with an OD (organisation development) background of over 23 years, while others come from a technology background. We will be a SaaS platform soon, which can be used by organisations to understand their culture, the level of inclusion, engagement, the key influencers, etc. We use seven questions to map the networks, which is also called ‘active network analysis’.”
Bootstrapped since inception, the startup is now eyeing for expansion, and will be soon raising funds.
Orglens aims to expand its business to more geographies and sectors in the country in the next 18 months.
Edited by Megha Reddy