Opening the Johari Window


Devised in the 1950s, the Johari Window is a technique that can be used to expose an individual’s blind spots and increase their self-discovery. When used as a management tool, the technique can improve team performance and enhance breakthrough thinking.

Everybody has blind spots and opportunities for growth and learning. The Johari Window is a tool for improving self-awareness that can help an individual recognize their short-comings and discover hidden capabilities. When used within the setting of a work team, the technique can drive change and improve performance by helping members learn about themselves and their teammates.

How it works

Invented by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham - hence the name ‘Johari’ - the model suggests that each person has four elements in their make-up:

Open Element: All of the personal characteristics that are widely known about the person, by the person and by his or her teammates.

Blind Element: All of the characteristics that the team knows about the person, but, is unknown by the person himself.

Hidden Element: All of the characteristics that the person knows about himself, but, is hiding from the group.

Growth Element: All of the personal characteristics that are unknown by the person and by their team. It is this component of model where hidden skills can emerge and breakthrough thinking can occur.

Individual findings from a Johari Window workshop or discussion can be depicted graphically through a 2 by 2 matrix. Each element is represented as a quadrant. Through discussion, the group simply lists the characteristics, tendencies, skills and aptitudes for each person within each category.

The conversation makes the difference

Once the details are captured, the conversation begins. Typically, individual self-discovery takes place in the Blind Element discussion. It’s here that people learn what others perceive of them. Perhaps, for the first time, they will be exposed to blind spots and improvement areas that they had not been aware of in the past.

It should be noted that the Hidden Element discussion can be challenging to moderate because it’s up to each individual to share the things that they have been hiding. A word to the wise, there is no need to press the issue, if there’s not much coming from the individual. Evidently, they’re not ready to let down their guard and the team can function just as well without a deep emotional breakthrough.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the conversation comes in the discussion of each person’s Growth Element. It can be jump-started by a group discussion of its needs as a team. It is here that members begin to open themselves up to the possibilities of being able to support the group with skills, interests and talents that were previously unknown or untapped.

Of all of the parts of the Johari Window, the growth element is the one that should be revisited from time to time as a group. It can be instrumental to breakthrough thinking and performance.

To close, the Johari Window technique is a tool that can be used to tweak team performance and help a team become centered more quickly than just letting it happen naturally. It can be used to build trust and extend capabilities. It can also open the window to unparalleled success. Use it wisely.

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About The Author

James M. Kerr
James M. Kerr

James M. Kerr is the Global Chair of the Business Transformation Practices at N2Growth and the author of It’s Good To Be King. A specialist in business strategy, organizational design and cultural transformation, he has been helping clients re-imagine the way work is organized and performed for more than 30 years. Kerr’s next book is due out early next year and focuses on the leadership needed to drive radical disruption within an industry.