Difference between Need & desire can be easily understood when associated with the human body. Need is related to the human body, and desire is related to the human mind.
When we feel hungry, thirsty, that is the need of the body. Human Body cannot survive for long if these needs are not met. A better shelter, clothing, amenities are desires.
You cannot cut your needs because they are natural and are required to survive. But you can reduce the desires without impacting the survival.
Needs are very less — food, water, clean air, shelter, etc. But desires can be unlimited. When you are thirsty, all you need is water. The body doesn’t ask for any particular brand of water. But mind wants a particular brand with a specific taste, that’s desire.
When you drink, you fulfill your need, so body wants to stop drinking, but mind wants to drink more because of the taste as desire is still unfulfilled.
An organization is like a human body. It has needs. Organizational strategy can be considered as the mind as it has desires. Organizational needs can be identified as things needed to survive as on Organisation such as resources including raw material, human resource, etc., capital and profit.
Organisational desires could be having more profit, better offices, advanced technology, presence in more countries, etc. Whether it is a human body or an organization, there is nothing wrong in having desires and trying to achieve it.
Problem starts when we cut down the needs and increase the desires. For example, trained resources is the need of the organisation. Even business excellence models like “Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award” popularly known as MBNQA, or other business excellence models give equal weightage to training activities along with other initiatives in the organisation.
Unfortunately, many organisations give little importance to proactively up skilling the workforce. It’s like cutting down the needs. Similarly having happy employees is also need of the organisation. How can we expect an organisation to excel with disgruntled employees? That’s when the symptoms like high attrition/ low productivity starts surfacing.
If the needs of a human body are cut down, it won’t help to achieve any desires. If the body is kept thirsty or hungry, it can still survive for some time as it would utilise its internal resources to survive, but eventually, it will give up. Similarly, when the needs of an organisation are ignored, it can survive for a certain period but just like the human body, it will start giving up.
Once I was riding a motorbike on an island. Road was pretty good. There was not much traffic on the road. After riding for a while, I was in a remote area. My motorbike suddenly started wobbling. I realised that the motorbike had a flat tire. Disappointed, sad and lost I didn’t know what to do. I could not see any help around. After parking my motorbike at the side of the road, hopelessly I was waiting for someone to come and offer some help. I saw another motorbike approaching me which made me happy.
To my great surprise, he was a mechanic and he had a toolkit to help me with my flat tyre. I felt lucky. He helped me replace the flat tyre. He did charge little extra than a regular amount, but I was ok with it. I jokingly said, you must be making good money like this for the whole day. He said, “No, I make money only in the second half of the day as my first half goes in planting the nails on the street.”
There are many business consultants who are like these mechanics. They create the situation of need by planting business models in organisations and then offer services to correct those situations. These business consultants first create the impression of need and then lead organisations towards the desires.
Differentiating between the needs and desires of an organisation will not only help to meet the needs but excel in fulfilling desires.
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