Tuesday's Tip: Apply Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs To C-Level Business Strategy

Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs Provides Prioritization Of An Individual's Needs

In 1943, Abraham Maslow put forward his paper A Theory of Human Motivation. Eleven years later in 1954, Maslow went into detail on his hierarchy of needs in his book titled Motivation and Personality. The framework outlined five needs from the most fundamental or "deficiency needs" at the bottom and ended in Meta motivational needs towards the top (see Figure 1.).  At the highest level - self-actualization, the individual would focus on the needs to better society.
Figure 1. Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs

Source: Wikipedia
A Business Hierarchy Of Needs Provides A Model To Prioritize Business Strategy
While Maslow's research explained what would drive and motivate individuals, applying the model to organizations yields a powerful framework for business prioritization. Why? Today's next gen C-level executives face an onslaught of business priorities that must address the organization's basic needs from regulatory compliance to higher level needs that include the management of the brand.  The business hierarchy of needs uses an analogous framework to Maslow's.  Using the framework, business priorities and related projects can be aligned with the five levels that include (see Figure 2):

  1. Brand. The brand describes a promise to stakeholders. The brand is more than the collection of products or services offered by the company.  The brand encompasses an emotional value, an aspiration, and the public face of a business strategy.  The brand can be viewed as a person, product, organization, and symbol for the company.
  2. Strategic differentiation. Organizations seek strategic differentiation to achieve a desired reputation, create a defensible competitive advantage, and influence preferential behaviors in the value chain.  Tools include positioning strategy, design thinking, and innovation programs.
  3. Revenue growth. Revenue growth reflects the initiatives used to drive new customers, revenues, and market share for the organization.  Revenue growth is also known as top line priorities.
  4. Operational efficiency Operational efficiency priorities focus on reducing costs, improving existing performance, and optimizing existing landscapes.  Operational efficiency is also know as bottom line priorities.
  5. Regulatory compliance.  Regulatory compliance is a base need.  Organizations must comply with legal requirements.  In addition, organizations may want to avoid legal suits, causing injury, or failing to meet a commitment.

Figure 2. Constellation's Business Hierarchy Of Needs

The Bottom Line: Use The Business Hierarchy Of Needs For Business Prioritization
As with Maslow's framework for motivation, the business adaptation delivers a framework for all c-level execs to:

  • Align projects and priorities using the five categories in the framework
  • Budget resources, funding, and investments in a portfolio management model by type of business need.
  • Craft a strategy and portfolio mix based on business models and business need
  • Develop a methodology to include in overall corporate strategy
  • Evaluate with regular frequency for opportunities to improve

Your POV.
Are you ready to reassess your strategy efforts by business hierarchy of need?  How do you plan to allocate your resources and time for each need?
Take the survey and find out what your peers are doing today and in 2012.  As a survey respondent, you'll get a copy of the results.
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Resources and Related Posts
20110303 Harvard Business Review - R "Ray" Wang "The Four Personas Of The Next Gen CIO"
20110713 Harvard Business Review - R "Ray" Wang "Coming to Terms With The Consumerization Of IT"
20111020 Harvard Business Review - R "Ray" Wang "Moving From Transactions To Engagement"
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