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The Shadow Knows Are you clued in to what's really going on in your company? According to experts, the real deal can be found lurking in a shadow organization.

By Mark Henricks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Jennifer Johnson knew she had a problem when she discovered thatsome of her 15 employees were taking their complaints to someoneother than her. "People were going to [a senior consultant atthe company] for the real scoop, as opposed to coming to me,"Johnson says. "I found it kind of troubling."

The 37-year-old founder of Johnson & Co., a 2-year-old SantaCruz, California, marketing consulting and media relations firm,was right about one thing: It's important for entrepreneurs tounderstand who is talking to whom, who is listening, and how mostof the information and influence really flows in your company. Nomatter what your organizational chart looks like, experts in anemerging discipline called social network analysis say allcompanies have hidden, shadow organizations where the real workgets done.

Shadow organizations have aroused the interest of such companiesas Lucent Technologies, IBM, Rubbermaid Inc. and Boeing Co. Thesefirms have discovered that social network analysis is more thanjust an exercise in clique-finding. In 1998, consultants at Ernst& Young LLP reported finding opportunities to save a large autoindustry supplier more than $14 million just by using socialnetwork analysis to uncover inefficient communication that washamstringing innovation.

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