Maslow's pyramid in B2B: The Hierarchy of Corporate Needs

We all have an opinion how these turbulent times affect our businesses. During the summer I had many fascinating chats with clients, colleagues and acquaintances, hearing their valued opinions on forthcoming times. Soon I began to recognize some patterns.

Maslow’s classic hierarchy of needs is known to us all. Given the disambiguation of his theory, we all know that self-actualization hardly takes place in a desperate hunger. During my talks I recognized that corporate needs turns also into that well-known pyramid.

Ladders of the corporate needs

Where classic Maslow comes with five ladders, our Hierarchy of Corporate Needs recognizes seven: existence, stability, direction, community, future, society, and recreation.

  1. Existence. Focusing on survival – severe issues is liquidity and cash situation blur many other action points.

  2. Stability. Efficient operations as well as longevity in sales pipeline are required for solidity and profitability. And eventually to pay dividends.

  3. Strategy. Clear cut vision and credible strategy to reach it, as well as some abilities to invest, are often required to reach growth.

  4. Community. Once business basics roll, many acknowledge that happier employees make happier clients, and eventually also even happier shareholders.

  5. Future. Happiness does not last long unless everyone onboard understands and believes in the direction company in navigating to. Companies at this stage live true to their brand promises.

  6. Society. It is time to give back, but it is the last moment to have courage take a strong stand.

  7. Recreation. Once too large, or too old, cannibalism revives. Many companies at this stage have followed their unique paths and beliefs.

Speed of change 

When it comes to the Hierarchy of Corporate Needs, we recognized also few layers that travel along the pyramid. First, the pace of change seems to be extremely fast on the lower ladders, but slower on upper ladders. When companies fight for their existence, major changes are pushed live in record speeds.

Second, timeframe in which the key performance metrics are expected to jump varies between ladders. When figures on existential issues are expected to show a change on one to two months’ timeframe, on societal and recreational ladders leaders must accept several years’ timeframe to show their KPI’s changing.

How do you reflect the B2B Maslow in your own corporate situation? On which ladder you currently are, or on many at the same time? Join the discussion, let’s develop this model further.

Roope Ruotsalainen