Was there some “secret social sauce” in the way we learned in my grad class?

secret sauce

As I mentioned previously, I’ve been taking a graduate class at Northwestern that is essentially about using enterprise social networks to accomplish knowledge management. We’ve learned the theories behind both what knowledge and knowledge management are, the pros and cons for businesses and individuals, some of the psychology behind why people do or don’t readily participate, etc. Some of the readings were very dense and scholarly, and others were more lively and engaging. All in all, it has been a great experience.

Because I’m a practicing community manager, I have found that I can’t stop myself doing a lot of stepping back to assess what’s going on from that lens. In other words, I’ve been both a participant in and observer of the course. There’s been so much to reflect on behaviorally, even in myself.

Our last class meeting was this week, and one of the questions the instructor asked was how our attitudes had changed over the time period of the course. The vast majority of the students said that they were now much more likely to participate and even lead the way (model behaviors) in their company ESNs. Many of them described that before the class, they had been hesitant to participate for a variety of reasons, but had decided to step in now.

I have a few theories why that happened, but I don’t want to put them forth just yet. I’m hoping that by writing this post and pointing people to it, I’ll get some feedback. I sense there is at least a little bit of secret sauce in here – a way to better lead people to their own personal “Aha!” moment with enterprise social. It feels almost like it is on the tip of my tongue. But then I talk myself out of it because trying to talk to people at work about knowledge management seems like such an unlikely way to win.

Anyone game to help fill in some blanks here? I won’t name names, but I’m hoping a few of my classmates will help me think about this one out loud.


  1. Sorokti · June 5, 2015

    I’m going to hold off on answering this because I manage the MSLOC online learning community and I’m likely too close to it. I do have some working hypotheses about this though. I’m very curious to hear what students think the ingredients are to the special sauce. What helped them make this shift in thinking and practice? I’ll try to chime in once some other people have posted. Thank you for this blog. Great example of working/learning/thinking out loud. đŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • tracymmaurer · June 5, 2015

      I have my ideas as well, but am really hoping to hear from folks who experienced the shift. My experience happened on the job, so I think came from somewhere different. But perhaps not…. Can’t wait to hear from others! Thanks for the reply, and looking forward to your insights as well.


  2. tracymmaurer · June 15, 2015

    Some comments that were contributed in another manner:
    1) encouraging use of a social platform in a “safe”, encouraging environment
    2) modeling encouragement as well as social behavior
    3) friendly competition (showing stats about who’s posts were getting attention)
    4) showing examples of why/where social business works through class assignments
    5) showcasing peer examples

    So I’ve got some definite ideas of ways to incorporate some of this internally. Off to experiment and report back as it evolves!

    Anyone else have suggestions? Or feedback on the feedback? Please chime in!


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