In the tech industry we’re reasonably good at capturing needs. Sometimes we skip the needs (or assume them) and go straight to requirements. That’s not great, but the intention is roughly the same: an expression of what (we believe) people need. We even have people for whom this is a significant part of their job. They include user researchers and business analysts. And we write down those needs, track them, and aim to fulfill them. They are “positive” needs.
But sometimes we also discover (and need to capture) what people don’t need. These are things that in another context might be considered features, but to our target users only make their life more difficult. These might include things like “I don’t want to delegate my budget submission; that would be a nightmare,” or “Don’t let me juggle that across two PCs, it would only confuse things.” In reality, like user needs, they may not be expressed as clearly as that, and might well be derived from careful observation and questioning.
I first heard the phrase “anti-needs” for things like this from my colleague Simon Houghton in early 2017. If there is an earlier reference I’d welcome it.
I don’t know the best way to capture anti-needs, because achieving them successful involves not doing something. But it’s definitely in the realm of having the vision for our overall delivery (product management) and comes from work directly with users (the user researcher). It’s all part of “Doing the hard work to make it simple”.