This Pyramid of Needs Stacks Up Business Motivation
From the physiological needs for food, water and sex upward to self-actualization, who hasn’t heard of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs? Hello, Intro to Psychology 101.
First published in 1943, Maslow’s hierarchy still provides us with a pattern of human motivation  and is so eloquent in communicating its purpose.
It recently occurred to me that there is no similar pyramid for companies. I tried to find one, even asking several experts, without luck.
I challenged myself to adapt this pyramid to the needs of companies. Explaining the hierarchal needs of companies helps us understand that companies operating in different spaces have different beliefs, needs and expectations.
What does a company pyramid look like?
From the top down, this pyramid includes:
• Self-actualization – (worldly purpose) long-term collaboration with employees, customers and suppliers
• Esteem – (strategy: 15+ years) recognized industry leader, respected by customers and suppliers
• Love/Belonging – (strategy: 4 to 15 years) community purpose, practices CSR
• Safety – (strategy: 1 to 3 years) near-term financial security, employees are financially and physically safe
• Physiological – (strategy: <1 year) barely able to pay obligations for payroll, stakeholders and bills
While I won’t name any companies operating at the bottom, there are two companies in the Austin area that by many accounts are doing a terrific job of operating at the top of the pyramid: Whole Foods and National Instruments.
I’ve seen and heard their CEOs, John Mackey and James Truchard, and both are incredibly modest but honorable individuals. They have helped mold their respective companies into operating in the top “self-actualization” part of the pyramid.
But does operating at the top of the pyramid translate to business success?
Can you name companies that are great examples of being at the top of the pyramid?
A future post will help you find out where your company fits in the pyramid and discuss how to move up the pyramid.
And, yes, I think Maslow would be very comfortable picking up a gallon of organic milk at the local Whole Foods.
Picture credit: J. Finkelstein (Wikimedia)
 Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Wikipedia