Kano Model Explained For Business

The Kano Model was developed by Dr. Noriaki Kano, a professor of quality management at the Tokyo University of Science. The Kano Model prioritizes features on a product roadmap according to the degree to which they are likely to satisfy customers. The Kano Model is one of a suite of prioritization frameworks that help product teams prioritize product features. However, it has a strict focus on prioritizing features based on user satisfaction.

Understanding the Kano Model

Through extensive research, Dr. Kano determined the factors most responsible for customer loyalty and satisfaction with the creation of five categories. Each category describes the potential reaction of a customer to a product or service feature – ranging from dissatisfaction to delight.

As a result, teams using the Kano Model must consider new product features according to the potential of each to satisfy customers based on functionality.

The Kano Model feature categories

As noted earlier, the Kano Model identifies five category features based on the reaction of a customer. It’s important to note that customer reactions are based on whether a given product feature is absent (dysfunctional) or present (functional).

With that in mind, let’s take a look at each in more detail:

  1. Dissatisfaction features – customers are likely to be upset by the presence of these features, but not dissatisfied if they are absent.
  2. Indifferent features – the presence or absence of these features does not make a perceptible difference in the reaction of the customer. If present, they are simply tolerated.
  3. Basic (threshold) features – or features a product needs to be competitive that customers expect. Turn signals on a new car are one such example. These features are not generally desired by customers but they may dislike not having them. In many situations, these product features are compulsory in that they are essential to the operation of the product.
  4. Excitement features – Kano called these features “delighters” because of their ability to delight and excite customers who weren’t expecting to have them. They often provide an increase in customer delight that is disproportional to the investment required to implement them. Delighters can drive brand loyalty and increase word-of-mouth advertising.
  5. Performance features – encompassing features that where investment is proportionally related to customer satisfaction. Performance features are those that the customer likes having and dislikes not having. As a result of the linear relationship between investment and satisfaction, Kano noted that these features were one-dimensional. Nevertheless, customers use these features to weigh up buying decisions. A phone company that invests in a better network to offer consumers faster browsing speeds is one example of a performance feature.

Key takeaways:

  • The Kano Model is a product feature prioritising framework based on potential customer reaction and satisfaction.
  • The Kano Model is unique among prioritization frameworks because it is solely focused on assessing product features based on their presence (functionality) or absence (dysfunctionality).
  • The Kano Model splits customer reactions to a product feature into five categories: dissatisfaction, indifferent, basic, excitement, and performance. Businesses must avoid the first two categories and focus on categories likely to drive customer loyalty and retention.

Connected Business Concepts And Frameworks

Scientific Management Theory was created by Frederick Winslow Taylor in 1911 as a means of encouraging industrial companies to switch to mass production. With a background in mechanical engineering, he applied engineering principles to workplace productivity on the factory floor. Scientific Management Theory seeks to find the most efficient way of performing a job in the workplace.
Poka-yoke is a Japanese quality control technique developed by former Toyota engineer Shigeo Shingo. Translated as “mistake-proofing”, poka-yoke aims to prevent defects in the manufacturing process that are the result of human error. Poka-yoke is a lean manufacturing technique that ensures that the right conditions exist before a step in the process is executed. This makes it a preventative form of quality control since errors are detected and then rectified before they occur.
A Gemba Walk is a fundamental component of lean management. It describes the personal observation of work to learn more about it. Gemba is a Japanese word that loosely translates as “the real place”, or in business, “the place where value is created”. The Gemba Walk as a concept was created by Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System of lean manufacturing. Ohno wanted to encourage management executives to leave their offices and see where the real work happened. This, he hoped, would build relationships between employees with vastly different skillsets and build trust.
Product discovery is a critical part of agile methodologies, as its aim is to ensure that products customers love are built. Product discovery involves learning through a raft of methods, including design thinking, lean start-up, and A/B testing to name a few. Dual Track Agile is an agile methodology containing two separate tracks: the “discovery” track and the “delivery” track.
Scaled Agile Lean Development (ScALeD) helps businesses discover a balanced approach to agile transition and scaling questions. The ScALed approach helps businesses successfully respond to change. Inspired by a combination of lean and agile values, ScALed is practitioner-based and can be completed through various agile frameworks and practices.
Lean manufacturing seeks to maximize product value while minimizing waste without sacrificing productivity. According to the Lean Enterprise Research Centre (LERC), 60% of a typical manufacturing process is waste. While the removal of waste is perhaps synonymous with lean manufacturing, the goal of the methodology is the sustainable delivery of value to the customer.
Kanban is a lean manufacturing framework first developed by Toyota in the late 1940s. The Kanban framework is a means of visualizing work as it moves through identifying potential bottlenecks. It does that through a process called just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing to optimize engineering processes, speed up manufacturing products, and improve the go-to-market strategy.
Agile started as a lightweight development method compared to heavyweight software development, which is the core paradigm of the previous decades of software development. By 2001 the Manifesto for Agile Software Development was born as a set of principles that defined the new paradigm for software development as a continuous iteration. This would also influence the way of doing business.
The Agile methodology has been primarily thought of for software development (and other business disciplines have also adopted it). Lean thinking is a process improvement technique where teams prioritize the value streams to improve it continuously. Both methodologies look at the customer as the key driver to improvement and waste reduction. Both methodologies look at improvement as something continuous.
The scaled agile framework (SAFe) helps larger organizations manage the challenges they face when practicing agile. The scaled agile framework was first introduced in 2011 by software industry guru Dean Leffingwell in his book Agile Software Requirements. The framework details a set of workflow patterns for implementing agile practices at an enterprise scale. This is achieved by guiding roles and responsibilities, planning and managing work, and establishing certain values that large organizations must uphold.
Scrum is a methodology co-created by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland for effective team collaboration on complex products. Scrum was primarily thought for software development projects to deliver new software capability every 2-4 weeks. It is a sub-group of agile also used in project management to improve startups’ productivity.
Kanban is a lean manufacturing framework first developed by Toyota in the late 1940s. The Kanban framework is a means of visualizing work as it moves through identifying potential bottlenecks. It does that through a process called just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing to optimize engineering processes, speed up manufacturing products, and improve the go-to-market strategy.
DevOps refers to a series of practices performed to perform automated software development processes. It is a conjugation of the term “development” and “operations” to emphasize how functions integrate across IT teams. DevOps strategies promote seamless building, testing, and deployment of products. It aims to bridge a gap between development and operations teams to streamline the development altogether.
Agile project management (APM) is a strategy that breaks large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks. In the APM methodology, each project is completed in small sections – often referred to as iterations. Each iteration is completed according to its project life cycle, beginning with the initial design and progressing to testing and then quality assurance.
design sprint is a proven five-day process where critical business questions are answered through speedy design and prototyping, focusing on the end-user. A design sprint starts with a weekly challenge that should finish with a prototype, test at the end, and therefore a lesson learned to be iterated.
Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO, defined design thinking as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” Therefore, desirability, feasibility, and viability are balanced to solve critical problems.

Read Next: Business AnalysisCompetitor Analysis, Continuous InnovationAgile MethodologyLean StartupBusiness Model InnovationProject Management.

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