Get that guy to x-ray my project
If you're a consultant and you want to make it big it's best to have something special that high-level managers value - lots of pretty visuals also help. For example, a project manager at IBM was having trouble figuring out why his large project team was missing deadlines and he demanded that someone "get that guy to x-ray my project". What that manager really meant was "get Valdis Krebs to do a social network analysis of my project team to identify the information sharing bottlenecks so that the project will progress as planned" - not as catchy is it?
Valdis adopted the term organizational network, as opposed to social network, as serious business types thought that social networks were about trivial socializing. He called his company orgnet.
orgnet also got a significant amount of PR with Connecting the Dots -- Social Network Analysis of 9-11 Terror Network. This was done analyzing newspaper reports. Valdis added links between nodes when members of the terror network were said to have met and removed links if every rumors that two terrorists had met were disputed.
The orgnet InFlow software for (Mapping and Measuring Business, Organizational and Social Networks) is written in Prolog. The networks are based on surveys that members of the team complete. The survey asks "who do you meet with to do your job". The whole process made me think of stop motion animation - it's painfully slow to develop the visuals but the finished result is impressive.
I saw Valdis talk at SocialNetworks - WebCamp at the Digital Enterprise Research Institute, Galway. He covered a lot of ground but I was most impressed by his story as a case of a successful technical entrepreneur. He has very interesting social network theory (and tools) behind a very digestible visual story for senior management.