I’ve alway been used to seeing Maslov’s hierarchy of needs as a 5 layer pyramid with ‘self actualisation’ at the top. There’s a lot in his 1943 theory that is relevant to why people would want to collaborate on a deep human motivational level. The need to belong and be accepted in the third level and the desire for the respect by others on the fourth level are two examples of why we are social in business as well as in life.
My nagging doubt about this model though was that the apex of human motivation is shown to be more selfish, concerned with fulfilling one’s own potential to the utmost.
Sure, winning is satisfying at the level of Esteem. Yes, fulfilling your personal potential, perhaps in your job or career, is Self Actualising. But what next? (Maslow said that needs must be satisfied in the given order. Aims and drive always shift up to the next needs level.)
So I was delighted to discover that Maslov in his original writing draws an interesting distinction here. “I have recently found it more and more useful to differentiate between two kinds of self-actualizing people, those who were clearly healthy, but with little or no experiences of transcendence, and those in whom transcendent experiencing was important and even central…”
These transcendence needs are defined by going beyond what you can become and embrace helping others to achieve self actualisation. This opens up the possibility of human motivation to collaborate at the highest level.
Maslov notes that “The transcenders are far more apt to be innovators, discoverers of the new, than are the healthy self-actualizers… Transcendent experiences and illuminations bring clearer vision … of what ought to be, what actually could be, … and therefore of what might be brought to pass.” Viktor Frankl later added Self-transcendence to create his own version of Maslow’s Hierarchy to show this.
So it’s no surprise that in open innovation we often come across people with a highly developed sense of what we call business empathy. They easily recognise the benefits of collaboration on a rational level but also are motivated by helping people and enjoy it on an emotional level. Sustainable partnerships are built on a passionate and compassionate commitment to helping people identify, pursue and reach their own personal unique potential. We’re witnessing the development kind of ‘post-competitive business’ behaviour in this regard and it’s very exciting.
by David Simoes-Brown