Network graphs provide a fantastic way to visualize interactions, communications patterns and the flow of information in an organization, but how do you interpret them? This article is to help you find your way in the wilderness of nodes, edges, hubs and bridges.

How to interpret networks


Nodes usually represent people, teams, business units, institutions, or even whole organizations, depending on the nature of the analysis and the scaling of the network. Their size, color and shape may vary to differentiate between categories (different hierarchy levels, departments, locations, tenure, etc.).


Edges are the lines that connect nodes. Edges with arrowheads represent directed connections, lines without arrowheads indicate mutuality. Edge width indicates the number of selections made between nodes.


Dense connectedness among several nodes. Ensures good information diffusion, may indicate good informal relationships.


A node linking groups which connect and exchange information only through that specific node. Critical role in innovation and knowledge sharing. Arbitrary information selection or distortion could occur if the occupant is unqualified or unmotivated.


A node with no connections. When examining mutual relations, it’s best to look at what the node on the periphery is doing (or not doing), and why they are excluded.


Nodes connected in a row. Slow, distorted information flow.


A node that acts as an information center for those with no direct access. Crucial role in the flow of information.

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