Considered the "father of needs assessment", Roger Kaufman first developed a model for determining needs defined as a gap in results. This particular emphasis in results focuses on the outcomes (or ends) that result from an organization's products, processes, or inputs (the means to the ends). Kaufman argues that an actual need can only be identified independent of premature selection of a solution (wherein processes are defined as means to an end, not an end unto themselves). To conduct a quality needs assessment according to Kaufman, first determine the current results, articulate the desired results, and the distance between results is the actual need. Once a need is identified, then a solution can be selected that is targeted to closing the gap. Kaufman's model in particular identifies gaps in needs at the societal level, what Kaufman calls "Mega" planning, along with gaps at the Macro (or organizational) and Micro level (the level of individuals and small groups). Organizational elements vary among the three different levels: they are outcomes at the Mega level, outputs at the Macro level, and products at the Micro level. A Mega level needs assessment should be conducted if the primary beneficiary of the desired results is society itself (as with the results of a clean environment or continuing profit). If the desired results are not directly societal, but are delivered to society (such as automobiles or college graduates), then a Macro level assessment should be performed. If the desired results are building blocks for larger results (such as a single sale or a passed inspection), then a Micro level needs assessment is appropriate.
"Analysis can tell us what is required, but it cannot make us act."
--Mary Frances Berry
"Get the habit of analysis - analysis will in time enable synthesis to become your habit of mind."
--Frank Lloyd Wright
"Without data, you're just another person with an opinion."
--W. Edwards Deming
- Perceived needs are defined by what people think about their needs, each standard changes with each respondent.
- Expressed needs are defined by the number of people who have sought help and focuses on circumstances where feelings are translated into action. A major weakness of expressed needs assumes that all people with needs seek help.
- Relative needs are concerned with equity and must consider differences in population and social pathology.