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Monday, February 7, 2011 Kano Diagrams

A Kano diagram is an example of a tool that takes very little of a team’s time but sometimes has a huge payoff. A Kano diagram categorizes system characteristics in the three categories of Must Be, More is Better and Delighters. Each category has a particular behavior on a plot of customer response vs. the degree to which the characteristic is fulfilled. An example Kano diagram is shown in Figure 6-12. The customer response ranges from dissatisfied to neutral to delight. Characteristics that fit the More is Better category fall on a line from dissatisfied to delight depending on the degree to which the characteristic is fulfilled. Characteristics that are classified as Must Be are those the customer expects even if the customer didn’t explicitly request the characteristic. Thus these characteristics can never achieve a customer response above neutral. Characteristics that fit the Delighter category are usually characteristics the customer didn’t specify or perhaps didn’t even know were available. Such characteristics produce a response greater than neutral even if only slightly present. Obviously characteristics can be displayed in a three column list as well as a diagram.
The reasons to construct a Kano diagram are first to ensure that no Must Be characteristics are forgotten and second to see if any Delighters can be identified that can  be provided with little or no impact on cost or performance. Kano diagrams are not intended to be discussed with customers but to assist the development team in defining the best value concept. The “Trend with Time” arrow on this diagram is not part of a Kano diagram but is there to show that over time characteristics move from Delighters, to More is Better to Must Be’s. The usual example used to illustrate this trend with time is cup holders in automobiles. They were Delighters when they first appeared, then they became More is Better and now they are Must Be’s. The “characteristics” included in a Kano diagram may be functions, physical design characteristics, human  factors, levels of performance, interfaces or modes of operation. Thus this simple tool may contribute to many of the 15 IEEE tasks defined in Figure 6-5 in a previous post.

Figure 6-12 A simple example of a Kano diagram that classifies system characteristics into categories of Must Be, More is Better, and Delighters.