Gary Hamel’s Pyramid and the Triangle Model

In the Hypertextual blog post Gary Hamel’s pyramid of human capabilities, the author discusses how Hamel applied Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to organizational needs and aspirations. Hamel’s Pyramid structures those needs and aspirations into layers, as follows:

  1. Obedience
  2. Diligence
  3. Intellect
  4. Initiative
  5. Human creativity
  6. Passion and zeal

It struck me that I could use Hamel’s Pyramid to extend the Triangle Model in a new way. In previous extension, I used the Triangle Model to move from the interface, to tool tasks, to user tasks, to work design, to work, to workflows, to choreography, to orchestration, to further meta-management issues. I’ve used Maslow’s Hierarchy as vendor-client organizational interface. I’ve thought about applications as games and how game design could inform application development given the nature of feedback, discovery, collaboration, and entry into flow in the use of B2B software.

I’ve discussed some aspects of the Triangle Model in Building a Dog. Oh, Make that a Cat!.

Here I started with a development triangle, which resulted in a realization at the interface or Features, the first thick black band from the top. The resulting triangle represents the decisions that shipped with the release of the latest version of an application.

I show a user, who is working through their own domain-specific requirements, design, and implementation decisions. When an application is used, the effort and decisions project through the features provided by the application. This projection is a decision tree, or triangle with its own realization, the second black band from the top, the user’s work product.

The user’s realization is just a part of some larger work being done across the organization, so there is another triangle that projects through the user’s realization, and results in its own realization, the third thick black band from the top, the organization’s work product.

Beyond organizational work is extra-organizational work or value chain interactions that involve choreography, orchestration, and such. The black band at the bottom of the figure, shows this triangle’s realization.

Hamel's Pyramid Beyond the Triangle Model

Hamel's Pyramid Beyond the Triangle Model

The layers of Hamel’s Pyramid begin below development’s realization, aka Features.

The tool task layer is closely tied to features. This is a very obedient layer. The features may give you two or three ways to do something, but you don’t get to be creative or complex. Submitting a form or saving a file are typical tool tasks, tasks you are forced to do, because you are using a computer, or a specific platform, aka whole product components. Sales reps see CRM systems as enforcers of blind obedient doing. They hate it. It wasn’t designed to be otherwise.

User tasks are done by sequencing tool tasks and other tasks together. When writing a letter after formatting and creating of all the mandatory components of that letter, the composition of the message is the real job to be done, or user task. Formatting and mandatory components are tool tasks. The greeting is a mandatory component which originates from an intersecting domain, an intersecting technology, called writing a letter. That letter has its own requirements, design, and APIs, if you will.

It is in the user tasks that Hamel’s Pyramid moves beyond obedience and on the rest of Hamel’s layers, although not necessarily each layer, nor necessarily achieving passion and zeal. Beyond Hamel’s Pyramid, is the user’s realization.

I did not put Hamel’s Pyramid layers into each triangle, but each one might invoke all that emotion, all that humanness if we just let it. Yellow boxes adjacent the relevant triangles indicate where Hamel’s Pyramid layers would be appropriate. This enriches our user interface, our GUI, but it also extends deeply into other layers of use, and improves the user experience across many scales.

With such an expansive view, there is always another feature, another role, another emotional component to code. Beyond that, there are many more opportunities to expand the offer, to foster and position third-party complementor ecologies, to seed open innovation without partnership agreements and such that count on some technology getting to the market as your own application arrives as well, and to define competition much more richly.

The Hype Cycle lays out an expansive view. The triangle model can extend across the Hype Cycle. Hamel’s Pyramid extends across the Hype Cycle as well.



3 Responses to “Gary Hamel’s Pyramid and the Triangle Model”

  1. Requirements as Circles « Product Strategist Says:

    […] I described the triangle model in See “Building a Dog. Oh, Make that a Cat”, “Now that you have that Cat”, and “Gary Hamel’s Pyramid and the Triangle Model.“ […]

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  3. Gregg Says:

    When someone writes an paragraph he/she keeps the thought of a user in his/her mind that how a user
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