Students have a tendency to focus on the obvious value that an idea offers to users or stakeholders. The Maslow’s idea evaluation method offers a way to think about different kinds of alternative values that an idea might also offer.
Inspired by Maslow’s (1943) hierarchy of needs, the students brainstorm on the value that their idea offers to the users or stakeholders at the different levels of the pyramid (see illustration). Thus, the students need to discuss how their idea offers physiological value, safety value, social value, esteem value and self-actualization value to users or stakeholders. Based on this evaluation exercise, the teacher asks the students to discuss what ideas that can best fulfil the needs of users or stakeholders.
With the result of the Maslow’s idea evaluation exercise in hand, the students interact with users or stakeholders to get further feedback and inspiration to the value proposition of their ideas. The students might for instance prepare a questionnaire with questions that correspond to the different levels of the pyramid, and ask users to answer it based on a presentation of a prototype of the idea.
Maslow, A. H. (1943) A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, Vol 50(4), pp. 370-396.