What is Passive ONA?

Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) allows you to visualize and analyze relationships that exist within your organization, enabling you to model a business strategy that effectively exchanges information and ideas to help your company thrive in a rapidly changing environment.

Passive ONA refers to the implementation of ONA by monitoring employee's digital footprint. As its name indicates, passive ONA leverages passive data sources from a variety of collaborative tools, including but not limited to corporate email, Jira, Github and internal social media channels.

David Green (Insight222) says the following about passive ONA: "Passive ONA provides a different and complementary view as it runs continuously - often across the entire company. It provides an objective, unbiased view of how people are actually working and collaborating. It can also be used to automatically measure changes in network behaviours after an initiative or corporate event has taken place, such as following an M&A or significant restructure."

Implementing Passive ONA

There are two main scenarios when implementing passive Organizational Network Analysis: static and dynamic analysis. Each scenario has different characteristics and implementation roadmaps:

Static analysis refers to a scenario in which we take a "snapshot" that reflects the relationships created in an organization throughout a certain period of time, but the data is not refreshed on a regular basis.

There are four steps in the implementation of passive static ONA:

  1. Assign permissions to internal role to perform data search
  2. Run query with specific criteria
  3. Preview results
  4. Extract results

Dynamic analysis refers to a scenario in which we analyze the interactions that are created in an organization and the data is refreshed on a regular basis, enabling the client to access the most updated version of the analysis at any time.

There are four steps in the implementation of passive dynamic ONA:

  1. Register new application on cloud based identity and access management service
  2. Grant sufficient permissions
  3. Tenant admin validation
  4. Generate access token
  5. Retrieve data through REST API

Examples of passive ONA data sources

Visualizing Passive ONA results

When it comes to visualizing the results of passive Organizational Network Analysis there are two main scenarios: the inside view and the inside out view. Each scenario has different characteristics:

The inside view focuses on visualizing and analyzing the interactions between employees of an organization, without capturing the interactions of those employees with external stakeholders.

The inside out view focuses on visualizing and analyzing the interactions between employees from a specific department and external stakeholders such as clients, prospects or business partners. Examples of external passive ONA include mapping the interactions between Customer Services roles and the customers they provide support to, or mapping the interactions between Key Account Managers and existing/prospective clients.

When visualizing passive ONA results, we might come across a large network that is difficult to analyze due its size. In this context there are different options for reducing network density:

  1. Reduce network density by grouping or merging nodes
  2. Show sub-sections of the networks by applying filters based on specific areas of the organization, timeframes or centrality measures


As organizations become more interconnected through the implementation of new collaborative technologies, passive Organizational Network Analysis enables companies to manage in a more effective manner the way they generate, share and retain knowledge and information. This empowers companies to operate in a more agile fashion and maximize business success.