Why do we still teach Maslow?

Must read

Instilling Innovation Through Leadership With Learning and Development Training

Recent research has indicated the importance of Learning and Development (L&D) training in cultivating a sustainable and effective workplace culture that helps leaders instil...

Embrace the change: Getting to grips with new IT systems

New IT systems for a growing business can be an exciting prospect and deliver many benefits, but how do you convince employees to embrace...

5 Skills Needed To Drive Future Projects

Why do projects fail?   It's a question that invites a lot of interest and significant statistics. And there are no wrong answers here. Skills shortages...

Does a Project Manager Need PM Qualifications?

What makes a successful project manager is a combination of their academic abilities, experience and skills, both "soft" and "hard" skills i.e. communication skills...
Adrian Dooleyhttp://www.praxisframework.org
I was originally a construction project manager but moved into training and consultancy 30 years ago. After a career of trying to explain the reasons why the various PPM guides use different terminology and individually cover only parts of organisational PPM, I decided to develop the Praxis Framework.

This question was recently asked in a LinkedIn forum. It went on to say that Maslow was ‘disproven in the 1950s’ so we should not continue to teach it.

In case you didn’t know. Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ is a theory of motivation published by Abraham Maslow in 1943. It was never based on any empirical research and was, in effect, Maslow’s opinion from his own experience. Its popularity arises from the fact that it ‘feels right’ on an intuitive level. In effect, any ‘disproval’ of Maslow’s theory would be a disproval if his opinion – which doesn’t make sense.

But there is a bigger issue that this question touches upon. How should we regard the standard models of human behaviour that are frequently quoted in all management (not just project management) training?

If you have been on one of these courses, you may well have been introduced to Hersey and Blanchard (Situational Leadership), Tuckman (Teamwork) or Thomas-Kilmann (Conflict Management) to name but three.

There are a myriad of these models to describe many different aspects of human behaviour. Different models were, and continue, to be developed using varying degrees of empirical observation. No doubt some use statistics to validate their results but these are no ‘Standard Model’ in the mould of particle physics. No one will claim to have defined human behaviour to the 5-sigma degree of certainty required to prove the existence of the Higgs Boson.

All models of human behaviour are approximate theories. They are not taught because they are proven, they are taught because they make you think about people and the way they behave in a structured way.

These models should always be taught in a way that emphasises that they are ‘ideas’. There are conflicting and complementary ideas – all of which provide a framework to organise personal experience in a more efficient way.

So the next time someone teaches you about one of these models, see it for what it is – a starting point to try and understand how people behave, not a set of rules that people always adhere to.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs will never be ‘proven’ and equally I don’t see how it could be ‘disproven’. But it does have enough intuitive sense to make you start thinking about motivation and, hopefully, make you want to learn more.

 

- Advertisement -

More articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

- Advertisement -

Latest article

6 Reasons Soft Skills Are Vital For Leaders

How do leaders get to where they are? Getting to a leadership position takes a mixture of grit and determination, as well as having...

Why We Need Cross-Generational Tools

Find out why the project management tools you use have to work for everyone - regardless of generation, experience or background. And find out how you can make that happen!

3 Preventable Tech Issues That Can Slow Down Any Project

Every project, simple or complex, is vulnerable to delays regardless of how well planned the schedule is. This is a jarring reality in the...

Instilling Innovation Through Leadership With Learning and Development Training

Recent research has indicated the importance of Learning and Development (L&D) training in cultivating a sustainable and effective workplace culture that helps leaders instil...

Embrace the change: Getting to grips with new IT systems

New IT systems for a growing business can be an exciting prospect and deliver many benefits, but how do you convince employees to embrace...