Tools for Measuring and Applying Needs

26.01.2017 |

Episode #9 of the course Understanding needs by Ryan Watkins, PhD


Using needs in our decisions requires that we measure them. That is, we must measure results—and the gaps between our desired results and our current results.


Desired Results

We start measuring results by defining, in measurable terms, what results we want to accomplish. We have to clearly define the results we are seeking in ways that allow us to know when we are successful. For instance, while “be the best store in our region” may be inspirational, it is not until you specify that you want “customer satisfaction survey results at least five points higher than all other stores in our region by next year” that you have a measurable result to achieve.


Current Results

When we have clarified our desired results, we collect information on current results in order to measure the gap. For instance, if we want to have customer satisfaction five points higher than others, then we have to determine how our current satisfaction scores compare today. Only with that information can we compare the activities (satisfiers) and select the ones that will best close the gap.


Tools for Measuring Needs

Measuring needs, especially in work contexts, typically requires that we collection information and data. There are numerous tools and techniques that can help us in doing this. Below are links to information on eleven such tools and their application in assessing needs.


Document or Data Review

Guided Expert Reviews

Management of Focus Groups


Dual-Response Surveys


World Café™

Delphi Technique

Performance Observations

Task Analysis (Hierarchical or Sequential, If-Then, and Model-Based)

Cognitive Task Analysis


Tools for Applying Needs in Decision-Making

Too often, especially at work, we have information and data about our needs but fail to use it in our decisions. As with measuring needs, there are numerous tools and techniques that can help us overcome this problem. Below are links to information on twelve such tools.


Nominal Group Technique

Multicriteria Analysis

Tabletop Analysis

Pair-Wise Comparison

2×2 Matrix Decision Aids

Fishbone Diagrams


Root Cause Analysis

Fault Tree Analysis

Concept Mapping

Future Wheel

Performance Pyramid


Try a few of these tools out and see how it goes. Learn more about the ones you are most interested in. Build a variety of techniques and tools into your decision-making. Customize the tools for your organizational context. In the end, you will likely find that a number of tools can improve how well you understand needs, wants, and satisfiers—and subsequent decisions based on this knowledge.


Today’s Main Points

1. For needs to be used in our decisions, we must measure results.

2. There are many tools that you can use to collect information about needs and use that information in your decision-making.


Today’s Activity

Follow the link to read more about one Tool for Measuring Results and one Tool for Applying Needs in Decision-Making from the lesson.


Today’s Resources

In the lesson today.


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