Mental Model Posts ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’

How to Build Relationships and Deliver Happiness: The Story of Zappos

Zappos

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In 1999, Tony Hsieh made an investment in a online shoe shop that was then called shoesite.com.  It was renamed shortly thereafter, and today we know it as zappos.com.  The first year wasn’t very pretty, but in year two Zappos started to show some traction.  It ended the year 2000 with $1.6 million in gross sales.  Gross sales continued to climb, and by 2008, they had exceeded $1 billion.  This is an absurd level of sales growth, yet the fuel for this growth was amazingly straightforward.  Read More »

Three Mental Models Great Managers Use

Shangri-La

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Organizations, left unattended, move toward disorder.  The realities of Parkinson’s Law – the idea that work expands to fill the amount of time allocated to complete it – have been well documented.  So, Parkinson’s Law helps to explain why organizations naturally evolve towards disorder, and ultimately poor performance.  Managers, of course, act to correct this.  An array of mental models assist managers in working against this natural disorder, but there are three primary mental models that produce the majority of the results:  Read More »

The Story of Les Schwab and His Pride in Performance

Schwab Close

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Business often comes down to a core set of principles.  And the story of Les Schwab is no exception.  Keeping things in their simplest form (Reductionism) is what allows us to arrive at a core set of principles, but this is often difficult to do. Reductionism is a key aspect of understanding anything.  If we apply this concept to business, it always comes down to people.  It really comes down to decisions, but decisions are made by people.  And what I love about the Les Schwab story is that he so clearly understood the importance of this.  He loved people.  And if you’re in business, it really helps to love people – no matter how weird, how exotic, how aloof, or how awkward.  Read More »

An Accelerated Master’s Degree: Marketing in One Book

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Topics: Marketing
Marketing

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There have been plenty of books recently published on the concept of Deliberate Practice, which essentially says that it takes 10,000 hours of a certain kind of practice (called ‘deliberate’) to gain expertise in something.   It makes sense that the majority of what you want to learn in any discipline is going to be experiential (or gained through practice).  But in order to better understand your experiences, you want to have some kind of framework of what to expect.  You want to develop a theory structure.

Books are what give you this theory structure, and certainly the quality of the theory structure you begin with impacts the amount of deliberate practice you need to become an ‘expert.’  So it’s important to choose the right books, as they will provide the base infrastructure upon which you will layer your experiences.  You’re looking for books that concisely capture the overriding concepts of a particular discipline.

And in any discipline, at least one fairly well defined, there doesn’t need to be that many books to accomplish this.  I would generally say that 3 books or fewer, for each discipline, will give you a proper theory structure.

With that in mind, let’s look at Marketing…  Read More »

How Great Leadership is Created: The Building Blocks of a Super Company

City13

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People don’t want to be managed, but they are absolutely willing to be led.  How do I know this?  There is a cognitive bias that we all suffer from called the Authority-Misinfluence Tendency.  Charlie Munger summarizes it as follows: “Man was born mostly to follow leaders, with only a few people doing the leading.”  It’s just the way we are.

But just because people are willing to be led, doesn’t mean that any type of leadership will be effective.  Read More »

How to Build an Empire: The Story of Harvey Firestone and His Tires

Firestone Tire

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In 1926, Harvey Firestone sat down to write Men and Rubber: The Story of Business.  It outlines his philosophy on how to succeed in business, and to this day it’s still the best and most comprehensive story on how to build a business from nothing.

Firestone’s philosophy is quite simple.  It says that honesty is the fundamental principle of any business.  It says that a business must exist for a reason, and the single reason for the existence of any business must be that it supplies a human need or want.  “To make money” is not a good enough reason to be in business.  If fact, if all you want is money, Firestone advises you to get out of business as quickly as you can, and go work for someone else.  You are destined to fail otherwise.

Firestone was clear that a business must exist to supply a human need or want, and this philosophy can be further explained through Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  The primary need for all humans is physiological, followed by safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.  Humans seek to satisfy needs in this order.  Firestone was supplying tires, or facilitating transportation.  Transportation, depending on its intended use, could fall under physiological needs (driving to the grocery store for food), safety needs (driving to the office for work), or love/belonging needs (driving to family).  Either way, Firestone was clearly satisfying human needs with his tires.

This logic applies today as well.  For example, Mark Zuckerberg’s reason for starting Facebook (“to meet girls”), while it hurts my heart, does provide for the love/belonging needs that all humans naturally have.

That’s the end of my Zuckerberg digression – now back to Firestone…   Read More »

How to Increase Employee Productivity: The Science of Making Work Happen

BoredEmployee Pic

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Most businesses I talk to would like to figure out healthy ways to grow.  And in almost all of those businesses, that requires people (or employees).  It may simply require greater capabilities amongst current employees, or it may require adding more employees.  In either situation, it makes sense to design the organization so that each person within it can reach peak performance.  And eliciting peak performance from employees is the result of two things: training and motivation.  As Andy Grove says, “A manager generally has two ways to raise the level of individual performance of his subordinates: by increasing motivation, the desire of each person to do his job well, and by increasing individual capability, which is where training comes in.”  Read More »

What People Want: Introducing the Hierarchy of Human Emotions

BP5_Door

Photo by Stuck in Customs

Back in 1943, a guy named Abraham Maslow proposed an idea: there was a hierarchy of human needs, and he had a pretty good idea of what it was.  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was designed to explain motivation and behavior, and numerous people have since claimed this hierarchy is very accurate.  Andy Grove, former head of Intel, says exactly that in his book High Output Management.   Grove experienced this hierarchy first hand at Intel, and as a result it shaped many of the Human Resources decisions that were made.

Maslow ranked human needs as follows:

  1. Physiological: breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion
  2. Safety: security of body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health, property
  3. Love/Belonging: friendship, family, sexual intimacy
  4. Esteem: self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others
  5. Self-actualization: morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts

It’s very likely that human needs (per Maslow) are heavily involved in the decisions we all make. In a logical world, decisions would be made purely according to needs.  But we don’t live in a logical world, and wants often take precedence over needs.  And since wants reflect emotions, there must be some hierarchy of emotions that can better explain how emotions affect human behavior.

So just as Abraham Maslow created a Hierarchy of Needs, there is also a Hierarchy of Human Emotions.  Certain emotions drive our behaviors, decisions, and actions more than others.  Understanding the hierarchy of these emotions, and how people express them, has an interesting side effect: it often explains how to figure out what people want.  Read More »