Maslow’s theory on the hierarchy of human “needs”

I find Maslow’s hierarchy of needs incredibly useful. It provides a very simple framework for thinking about motivation, and motivation impacts almost everything I do at work.  I have a version of the hierarchy that I am developing for the services we deliver to customers and it’s quite instructive because it shows that quite a few of the level 1 and 2 needs are not yet satisfied, so it’s not surprising that we sometimes see customer satisfaction issues and struggle to sell some of the services that seek to address needs at levels 4 and 5.  Maslow’s original hierarchy looks like this:


If we apply it to IT systems,  (this is a very simple illustration of the concept) then it might look like this:


The point of this being that for example:

  • people won’t be interested in collaboration when they don’t have a stable PC
  • people won’t be interested in knowledge management when they are running out of email quota every day
  • people won’t be effective coaches when they are so overloaded with email that they don’t have time to think
  • people won’t be interested in sharing when their PC is infected with malware or viruses

If you forgive the simplistic nature of the example,  hopefully you can see the power of the model.  It goes further through, again some simple examples:

  • once a person has a working PC, Internet connection, storage space, virus and malware protection they will take it for granted and not consider it of value (unless you take it away) so you need to move up the hierarchy and provide higher value services.  But don’t move up until you have satisfied more basic needs!


Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

1 Response

  1. Anonymous says:


    Many thanks for this very interesting illustration of Maslow applied to IT. I will apply it myself to adult training.

    The quality of your blog is impressing.

    Thierry Gantois (France)

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