John Stepper recently posted a fantastic description of the evolution of social networks in organisations by documenting the seven questions that are asked across the journey.
Recently I was discussing that the experience of working with the evolution of an enterprise social network. I remarked that it is a little like an iceberg. One idea or use is visible to you and draws you initially. However, as with the seven questions, over time the uses grow and develop as the sense of community builds. Over time we discover more under the water as we develop our conception of what an enterprise social network can be and the role we can play in it.
There is something in common between John Stepper’s great questions and my iceberg metaphor. There are parallels as shown above between the uses of a social network and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Social networks are about human connections and are sustained by human needs being met. People begin use with one need, often quite simple. The first challenge in building the community is to find a common use for people to work together to solve. Over time people explore more needs across the hierarchy creating new use cases in the community as they do. In this way, it is no surprise there is a parallel to Maslow’s attempt to document a structure of human needs.