LeanSix Sigma


By Ron Updated on June 4th, 2007

In my recent Lean Lunch blog I referenced the Kano Model. I received some questions on what this model was all about so thought I would shed some light on it this evening.

By the way, if there is a topic you would like me to discuss please drop me a note.

The Kano Model is an extremely important concept for Lean and Six Sigma practitioners to understand. In all cases, understanding “value” from the customer’s perspective is absolutely critical. The Kano model can help us.

The Kano model was developed in the 1980’s by Professor Noriaki Kano. He proposed that customer preferences could be classified as either:

  • Basic Factors: These are must haves and if they are not evident the customer will be displeased. However, even if they are there the customer is not likely to be jumping for joy as they are expected.
  • Delighters/Excitement Factors: These are not required, and if missing do not cause any damage. However, if they are evident the customer may be “delighted” which is a good thing!
  • Performance Factors: These factors must be present and if they are not the customer will be unhappy. If they are present in abundance the customer will be highly satisfied.

I like to use cup holders to explain this concept. A few years ago it was common to have a few cup holders in an automobile. No one really thought much about this. Then, the auto industry realized something. They learned that customers were easily delighted by having lots of cup holders in their vehicle. Now I am not sure why this is as one can only have some many cans of soda or bottles of water… but I must come clean and confess something.

When my wife and I were shopping for a minivan I vividly remember her telling me how many cup holders a certain vehicle had as if having more cup holder made some big difference! To her it did. In fact, it delighted her! We bought a Toyota Sienna in case you are curious – imagine that, eh?

Cup holders had become delighters. But as with anything this too shall pass and soon having 42 cup holders (exaggerating… I think) in a compact car will become basic factors.

The gist of the Kano model is simple.

  • Be sure to have the “basics” covered, lest you tick your customer off.
  • Do your best to optimize performance factors as they can give you an edge.
  • Think long and hard about the next cup holder delighter as this will give you an edge for a short time. But be careful as this delighter will soon become a basic need. As the song goes, “what have you done for me lately?”

Until next time, I wish all the best on your journey towards continuous improvement.

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