LPA Application Brief #6

ApplicationManagement Consultancy
CompanyValdis Krebs Associates
ProductMacProlog, WIN-PROLOG

"InFlow was developed on a Macintosh but has been ported to WIN-PROLOG"

Valdis Krebs, an American management consultant, has developed InFlow, a software tool written in LPA Prolog to help analyse the informal networks of communication within organisations. InFlow was developed on a Macintosh, but has been ported by LPA to WIN-PROLOG on the PC as part of a process of market evaluation.

Krebs uses InFlow to model the relationships within organisations. He says these rarely map on to any organisation chart, but his system can represent a far more truthful model of the way in which the organisation works. The relationships are represented with the people as nodes, and their various relationships as links in a graph.

The analysis process starts with the employees in the organisation being surveyed using questions which typically seek to gather data on a single communi-cations context. These might include such things as who each employee looks to for ideas. Krebs then uses InFlow to look at how the relationships defined by the survey, and represented by different coloured lines, link up the people represented by icons. Each icon type, which will have a different colour, then represents the group or type that person belongs to. In much the same way that a scatter graph can show up statistical correlations that are not immediately obvious in the data, InFlow's visual graphs highlight clusters of communication between people.

This sort of analysis can be used to both highlight problems, and manage change. One of the most important uses identified by Krebs is in pinpointing where people are not being used to their full potential for one reason or another. For example, an organisation may wish to look at how well the talents of its female staff are used. If it transpires that women generally communicate between women, and men between other men, clearly there is an unhealthy situation. More and more, this is the sort of information that is needed in order to compete in today's market place. In today's world it takes more than good intentions to stay ahead of the game.

MacProlog's powerful graphics functions were used to create the Inflow's interface.

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