NOISE model

The chances are that most people reading this had heard of SWOT analysis. You may have even done one yourself. While it is useful to identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of a project or situation, sometimes a bit more nuance is needed.

NOISE model template with four quadrants labelled Needs, Opportunities, Improvements, and Strengths. A circle in the middle is labelled Exceptions.
The NOISE model

This is where the NOISE model comes in. Initially thought-up by Mike Cardus, we have used this together with Google Jamboard to help clients think through next steps with their projects. Click here or on the image above to access a Jamboard template for you to make a copy of to use in your own workshop.

Whereas the original use for the NOISE model was in organisational change, we’ve been using it with prioritisation of prototypes during the product development process. For us, therefore,the letters in NOISE stand for:

  • Needs — what’s missing?
  • Opportunities — what could be developed further in future?
  • Improvements — what could be changed immediately?
  • Strengths — what’s working well?
  • Exceptions — what’s already happening?

Let’s take an example relating to a recent programme WAO ran. In the example below, we’ve already done a traffic light analysis with clients to categorise user feedback on the very first version of their prototype. Now we need to think about prioritising development for the next version.

NOISE model with sticky notes in each quadrant - e.g. 'Users like the structured sessions' is in the Strengths quadrant
NOISE model with example sticky notes using Google Jamboard

As you can see, deciding what’s working well and needs to continue goes in Strengths. Ideas that we agree with and can be changed immediately go in Improvements, whereas new functionality or features go in Needs. Perhaps the most useful quadrant of the NOISE model is Opportunities, which is a place to park potential future development without distracting from work for v0.2.

The Exceptions circle we’re using for work that’s already in progress. So, using the above example, if our team was already in the process of planning a social event, we’d move that sticky note into the top-right of the Exceptions circle.

Click here to access the NOISE model template for Google Jamboard