More on Needs and Their Satisfiers

26.01.2017 |

Episode #3 of the course Understanding needs by Ryan Watkins, PhD


To understand needs (and thereby wants), we first had to define yesterday what needs are—needs are gaps in results. With this in mind, you do not need a car. Rather, your need is to get from place A to place B, and you have many options to consider for how you achieve that result. You may still choose a car, but the car is then a wanted satisfier (and it is not the need).

All needs have satisfiers. You may not like the options, but the equifinality principle of Systems Theory tells us that there are ALWAYS multiple way to achieve any result. Thus, there are actually numerous alternatives to consider—even if you don’t like any of them or have one that you prefer.


Purpose and Results Chains

Needs must have purpose (they must be “needed”). Needs get their purpose from related gaps in results. In other words, the closure of one gap in results can be required (“needed”) in order to close another gap in results. Satisfiers (car, iPhone, new staff, etc.) always have alternatives, so they can never be “needed.”

For example, you may want to hire 10 salespeople (a satisfier) to achieve 100 sales each month (a desired result). Since you are not yet achieving these 100 sales, there is a gap between the current and desired results. To be a need, however, you require purpose. The 100 sales must be “needed” to achieve another result—for instance, to gain a net revenue of $200,000 per month. Now we have a need.

More typically, however, to understand our needs and make good choices, we can’t stop there. What results we get from a net revenue of $200,000 are important, so we add another level to our results chain (for example, the net revenue is “needed” to open a second store). This is a results chain, and understanding it helps us prioritize our needs, wants, and satisfiers.

There are many theories about common endings to all of our results chains. But you mostly just want to focus on the first four or five results in any chain; these most directly inform your daily decisions.


Today’s Main Points

1. There are ALWAYS multiple alternative satisfiers to any need.

2. Needs are gaps in results, and needs have purpose.


Today’s Activity

Write down one of the needs statements you noted yesterday (such as “I want a watch in order to know the time in order to be at meetings on time”). Now take the results chain out a little further, asking yourself: if you achieved this result, what would be the next result? For example, if I am at meetings on time, then I will be able to exhibit greater leadership. And then take it out to another result so you have at least four results in the chain.


Today’s Resources

Free e-learning course on aligning results

Free guide on aligning results from the Kellogg Foundation


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