Value Network — “A web of relationships that generates economic or social value through complex dynamic exchanges of both tangible and intangible benefits.” —Verna Allee
I participated in my first value network analysis (VNA) workshop in 2007. My impression at the time was that humans work in complex environments and we are by our very nature unpredictable. The result of a VNA allows us to ask better questions but it doesn’t give specific answers (it’s not a tool for bean counters). I felt that VNA was an excellent change management tool. I could see the use of VNA and the resulting concept maps enabling better communication within organisations, with clients, with funders, and throughout communities. These perceptions have not changed
VNA consists of Process Analysis plus Organizational Network Analysis and puts people at the centre. It examines Roles, Tangible Assets [e.g. goods, services, revenue, contracts, invoices], and Intangible Assets [e.g. knowledge, know-how, trust, reputation]. Value network analysis requires no specialized technology. It is best done in small groups and is especially useful if several groups analyze the same system and then compare their results.
VNA is a tool to see our how our organizational systems really interact.
“The true shape and nature of collaboration is not the social network — it is the value network. Value networks are purposeful groups of people who come together to take action. Value network modeling and analytics reflect the true nature of collaboration with a systemic human-network approach to managing business operations. It shows how work really happens through human interactions, and provides powerful new practices and metrics for managing collaborative work.” —Verna Allee
I once used value network analysis to help a steering group in a global pharmaceutical company see their community of practice in a new light. For the first time, they saw it mapped as a network. They immediately realized that they were pushing solutions instead of listening to their community. As a result, they decided to change their Charter on the spot, and develop more network-centric practices.
In 2021 I conducted online VNA masterclasses to first explain the process and then provide support to small groups as they mapped their networks using a collaborative diagramming application. After one session, participants are able to use this experience to conduct subsequent analyses, either on-site or online. I don’t provide the fish to eat, I teach people how to fish so they don’t need a guide any more. A single session — 1/2 day (±3 hours) — is usually sufficient.