Published on 2012/02/15

All You Need Is Love! Really?

All You Need Is Love! Really?
On the heels of Valentine’s Day, the learner’s pyramid tells us that love in fact is not what it’s all about. Photo by Kate Ter Haar

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day; the day we profess to love, to live on love, to thrive on love and are told that if we just LOVE enough, love will come back to us in the form of antacid tasting sugared candies and everything will be “Just Fine!”

Really? SUPER!

Now on to reality…

We all have needs. We can be needy. We can spot when others have needs. Sometimes it’s all needless. “Need” is a big word. It implies there is a void of X, Y, and sometimes Z. It’s begging to be filled with that unidentified “something”. Often, people and organizations are so quick to see the gap that they rapidly fill their individual and collective needs with the first thing that comes along. This usually doesn’t bode well for anyone. But it’s understandable, to an extent, because human beings are conditioned to fear that void. We want to patch ‘er up and send ‘er on ‘er way. That’s how we are. But that’s not necessarily smart. That’s how greater needs are born.

Before I begin to discuss the learning needs in the e-Learning environment, I feel it’s necessary to fill in any potential gaps of understanding when it comes to our good friend, Maslow. So, for those readers who slept through Psychology 101 in college, I’ll provide a quick refresher course (compliments of that handy online homework helper, Psychology).

In 1943, “psychologist Abraham Maslow first introduced his concept of a hierarchy of needs in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” and his subsequent book, Motivation and Personality. This hierarchy suggests that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other needs”.

A basic model of Maslow's pyramid

A basic explanation follows:

Five Levels of the Hierarchy of Needs

There are five different levels in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:

  1. Physiological Needs: These include the most basic needs that are vital to survival, such as the need for water, air, food and sleep. Maslow believed that these needs are the most basic and instinctive needs in the hierarchy because all needs become secondary until these physiological needs are met.
  2. Security Needs: These include needs for safety and security. Security needs are important for survival, but they are not as demanding as the physiological needs. Examples of security needs include a desire for steady employment, health insurance, safe neighborhoods and shelter from the environment.
  3. Social Needs: These include needs for belonging, love and affection. Maslow considered these needs to be less basic than physiological and security needs. Relationships such as friendships, romantic attachments and families help fulfill this need for companionship and acceptance, as does involvement in social, community or religious groups.
  4. Esteem Needs: After the first three needs have been satisfied, esteem needs becomes increasingly important. These include the need for things that reflect on self-esteem, personal worth, social recognition and accomplishment.
  5. Self-actualizing Needs: This is the highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Self-actualizing people are self-aware, concerned with personal growth, less concerned with the opinions of others and interested fulfilling their potential.

As we can plainly see, love comes in the middle.

It is not the base of all things, nor is it the capstone of our needs hierarchy. It’s rather a supporting cast member. Necessary, worthy and needed… but not the Alpha or Omega of development. Yet how often are choices implemented by an individual and/or organization that are based on an emotional, ‘love’-like reaction (generated by fear of the abyss) to a particular product, solution, or decision?

In other words, how often does passion override common sense?

I hear you laughing. Nervously. It’s ok… we’re all friends here.

Bask in those definitions for a bit. Really get cozy with them. I’m not one to repeat myself so take notes if you must.

Now, what would happen if Maslow’s Hierarchy were tweaked to reflect the necessities of e-Learning? I would imagine it would look something like this:

Five Levels of (e-Learning) Hierarchy of Needs (Maston, H. 2012)

  1. Concept, Tools, Infrastructure, Clear Goals: Physiological needs
  2. Financing, Clients, Competency: Security needs.
  3. Corporate culture, Respect, Reputation: Social needs
  4. Recognition, Promotion: Esteem needs
  5. Meaning, Purpose, Passion, Fulfillment: Self-Actualizing needs

e-Learning Hierarchy of Needs - Maston, H. 2012

As you can clearly see, the LOVE part of the corporate e-Learning environment falls clearly in the middle… once the foundational work is done. However, the good feelings of the LOVE component aren’t what build the individual or company any more than the top tiers satisfy the basic needs of the foundation. All things in good time: with steady and deliberate planning. But it’s more than just the feeling of LOVE that is going to get you where you want to be.

Often we see, and are driven by the need to fill the holes, the gaps, the places in the trajectory of success and implementation with ill-thought-out choices, decisions, programs, and technologies. It’s a human reaction, as Maslow so elegantly lined up. At CarpeLearning, we have a clear vision of the stages to the top and must work hard to undo the impulsive decisions and implementations made by individuals to fill their short-term gaps.

Always ask yourself the question: “You bought the technology, now what?” Don’t fill your need gaps recklessly or make rash decisions based on an emotional LOVE reaction of a quick solution (and reactionary fear of void). Because, as you can clearly see: Love is not all you need!

Peace and good choices!

Adapted from the original piece published on CarpeLearning. Part one of a three-part series. For part two, see All You Need Is Love! Really? (Part 2).

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Readers Comments

Yancy Oshita 2012/02/15 at 7:33 am

agree with these principles of disciplined implementation — according to numerous studies inc. “Critical Factors in Implementing CRM Technologies,” virtually all the failures of technology projects had little/nothing to do with the tech but everything to do with planning, alignment between stakeholders, etc…hence, lots of $s spent on technology, but no ROI. Good stuff, Heidi!

James Branden 2012/02/15 at 3:49 pm

There is definitely such a thing as too much technology and too much reliance on hope when it comes to understanding and filling gaps.

Thank you for providing a clear, functional and formalized structure for determining and prioritizing our needs and spending

A. Robinson-Neal 2012/02/16 at 10:48 am

Thank you, Dr. Maston–great work here. Too often we see organizations jumping out there, hanging the hat on some solution that seems to fit the desire as well as the company purse, only to find out later, well…not so much; much fanfare and joy gives way to irritation and trepidation from users and implementation teams alike when the shine wears off and it is discovered the new toy doesn’t come out-of-box ready for what the organization wants. It is true that while it is vital to our bottom line to stay current with our technologies, it is even more vital to do our homework and know what sharks are in the pool before we even stick our toes in…

Dr. Heidi L. Maston 2012/02/16 at 11:24 am

Thank you for your comments Yancy, James, and A. Robinson-Neal – your feedback is both insightful and spot-on!

Yancy: You are right that there is a miss between planning, alignment, and the $ spent on the technology. There is often little thought beyond how the new tech makes those insistent on its implementation ‘feel’ – those decisions reactionary rather than strategic and a lot of time and wasted money goes toward correcting that initial acquisition and implementation. That needs to change in an organized manner.

James: With regard to “understanding and filling the gaps” – I see a great lapse in the “understanding” and have witnessed it often to be one of a defensive posturing that covers the apathy of desired learning gains. Translated, very few care to learn what they don’t know and simply write a check to “fill the gap” hoping it will cure the issue.

A. Robinson-Neal: “Fan-fare and Joy” have no place in technology decisions and their initial acquisition/implementation. None. Common sense, research, experience, competency… those are the traits needed. Organizations can have a “Love Fest” when the results are in, not before, and that’s the point of the pyramid.

Thank you for your feedback. I welcome all comments and will do my best to keep the dialogue flowing!

Peace and good choices,

Dr. Heidi L. Maston

Dr. June Rumiko Klein 2012/02/16 at 5:15 pm

Very nice! I work at a school of psychology so I’ve been to a few
lectures where they show the “dating stage” of love is actually very
similar to the brain patterns of typical psychosis! Crazy in love (?).

Thanks for the article!

Dr. Heidi L. Maston 2012/02/18 at 12:46 pm

Thank you, Dr. Klein. I will be adding a couple of more entries to this article and your mention of “The Dating Stage” is definately in the right vein.

Peace and good choices,
Dr. Heidi L. Maston

Dawna Williams 2012/02/24 at 4:07 pm

Just read the article and I’m processing it through the filter of my many years in college admissions. My thoughts are, surprisingly, working through it in relation to the “free laptop when you attend our college” promotion that several colleges promoted back over 10 years ago. How did a “free” laptop truly accentuate the educational experience of those students? Did it work? Did it truly benefit the learning process of the recipient? Technology as a lure has been going on for awhile now in the educational spectrum. Is technology truly a “lure”? Anyway, that’s what I’m processing…

Dr. Heidi L. Maston 2012/02/24 at 5:41 pm

Dawna Williams:

Thank you for you experience based perspective! You bring up a very real, interesting, and often overlooked part of the tech game: “Technology as a lure”.

I’ve spoken at, hosted, and helped build enough industry conferences to have a perspective that aligns with what you bring up: The Lure.

Often technology sponsors will showcase their product as an “answer to all dreams, and outcomes, possible…” and then, once the contracts are signed, there is often little support for ‘how’ to make it all work. Sure, they provide ‘tech’ support for their product but they are not in the business of providing ‘how to learn’ support. That goes by the wayside. And now… with budgets being what they are, the purchasing institutions provide little there too.

So where does that leave the learner? With a snazzy piece of equipment that he/she can’t use and a school that doesn’t know why.

Great imput!

Dr. Heidi Maston

Dr. Heidi L. Maston 2012/02/24 at 5:44 pm

Please make note that this part 1 of a 3 part series. Part 2 can be found at: Take a look and come join the growing conversation!

Part 3 will be released next week!


Dr. Heidi Maston

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