Product development or marketing folks will be quite familiar with Professor Noriaki Kano’s model of customer satisfaction which classifies drivers for satisfaction into basic needs, performance needs & delighters.
While increases in performance needs result in greater customer satisfaction, basic needs must be met to avoid dissatisfaction but do not result in increased satisfaction past a minimal point. Finally, delighters are those unexpected features which provide significant boosts to customer satisfaction as their availability increases.
Let’s continue the automotive analogy from last week to get some examples of these needs.
Safety features are basic needs – we expect to have airbags, but if car manufacturers continued to add more and more airbags, they wouldn’t increase the sense of satisfaction for most consumers.
Seat or interior trim is a performance need – as we move from cheap vinyl or cloth to better quality materials, our satisfaction increases proportionally.
Features such as cooling seats or the car’s ability to parallel park itself are delighters – when first introduced, the average car buyer would never have dreamed of them, but purchasing a car which possessed those features would make you feel like a kid in a candy store.
Can we find examples in the project management world which support the Kano model?
A common basic need is the production of documents to satisfy regulatory requirements. These deliverables don’t add value from the perspective of the customer, but if they are not created, they result in increased reputational, legal and financial risks to the company. However, gold-plating the production of such documents does nothing to increase satisfaction, and may actually reduce overall satisfaction.
A performance need is the quality of project information sharing. The more timely and accurate the information received by key stakeholders, the greater their sense of comfort and engagement.
Finally, while you might never have thought the terms “project management” and “delight” could be used in the same sentence, for stakeholders or sponsors who have never been on a well-run project, practices such as earned-value management or the use of prototypes or other interactive methods of soliciting and validating requirements could be considered delighters.
So what value does the Kano model bring to project management?
By classifying practices or activities, we can judge whether the effort we are spending is right-sized or not. It also reminds us to strive to have stakeholder perceptions exceeding their expectations.
The model also provides a good reminder – over time, needs evolve such that delighters become performance needs and then eventually basic needs.