Three Steps to Assessing Needs

26.01.2017 |

Episode #8 of the course Understanding needs by Ryan Watkins, PhD


To achieve results, we must now apply our understanding of needs in our decision-making. This begins with assessing needs: identifying, measuring, and prioritizing needs so we can make decisions about what to do next. We can assess needs to inform our personal choices, such as when to buy a new phone or car. We can likewise use similar assessments at work to link our individual and team decisions to beneficial results for our organization or align the results of our organization to desired impacts at a societal level. In all cases, we can use similar steps in our assessment.


Step One: Identify Needs

To identify needs, we must begin by looking at results—both the results we want to accomplish and the results we are currently achieving. Within organizations, we can often look to strategic plans to point us in the right direction for the desired results, although they are often missing important details on how to measure ambitions. Nevertheless, to make good decisions we must know, in detail, what we are trying to accomplish—so be persistent.

When we are clear about what we want to accomplish, we can compare those results to our current achievements, creating gaps in results (or needs). As we identify these gaps, we can then map their relationships, which must be achieved in order to support the achievement of others. And we can align the needs across individual/team, organizational, and societal levels.


Step Two: Analyze Needs

When we have identified our needs, we must then learn a little more about them before we can use them in our decision-making. Determining which needs to address first requires some knowledge of what is causing the need and information about what it will take to close the related gaps in results.

When analyzing needs, you can also begin to identify possible satisfiers to your needs.


Step Three: Decide What to Do

For your knowledge of needs to be beneficial, you have to use them in decision-making. This requires that there be a process for making decisions. The process can be short and quick, but you must have a process. For most organizational decisions, you should engage those who will be involved in making the choices, establish the criteria by which alternatives will be compared, set a timeline, and use appropriate tools to facilitate the process.


Today’s Main Point

1. The three phases of assessing needs are: identify, analyze, and decide.


Today’s Activity

Pick a major decision you have made in the last year (for instance, changing jobs, buying a house, launching a new product). Now reflect on the process that you used and the steps you went through. Compare those steps to the three phases described in today’s lesson.


Today’s Resources

Implementation Plan for a Needs Assessment

Detailed Checklist for Needs Assessment Management Activities

A Six-Week Needs Assessment Implementation Guide

Three-Phase Needs Assessment Process with Additional Details


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