For those of you unfamiliar with the Johari Window, it’s a construct that was developed by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in 1955. Basically, it unpacks self-awareness in order to assist people in understanding their relationship to themselves as well as to others.
It breaks down awareness into four dimensions:
The first dimension is what is known to the self as well as to others. The second dimension is what is known to others, but not to the self (also known as blind spots — an important concept that we’ll unpack a little later). The third dimension is what is unknown to the self and to others (“the great unknown” — very difficult to uncover). Finally, the fourth dimension is what is not known to others but is known to the self.
This concept actually came up in a strategic planning meeting with a client dealing with some difficult staff decisions. What struck me is how applicable the Johari Window is when applied to a whole company (vs. an individual).
Look at the diagram again, and replace the world “Self” with “Company,” and the word “Others” with “Market.” What you then have is what a company knows about themselves and is known by the market, what a company doesn’t know but is perceived by the market, and so on.
Known to Company
Not Known by Company
Known to Market
|Mutually Agreed Truth about your Company||Blind Spot within your Company|
Not Known by Market
|Stature / Appreciation
Blind Spots and the True Truth
While all of these are useful (and every company should be able to identify their strengths and weaknesses on this grid), the most important dimension to tackle when dealing with the market is the “blind spot” box. You might think at this point, “Gee — isn’t is the job of organizations to know themselves inside and out?” Sure — but the reality is that just like people, organizations do have blind spots.
The difference is that companies must be extra diligent to uncover those blind spots if they want to have a fighting chance in the marketplace. I would say that — in my experience, working both with large and small companies — the smaller the business, the more blind spots. For entrepreneurs and business leadership, this is vitally important to realize, and uncover yours.
As an individual, there are certain character traits that people don’t know about you but actually are true; in a corporation, these are generally a combination of the variety of things you do in the market that — if they surfaced – would be worth talking about.
Maybe you are a small business and know you have the best prices in your market, but your customers do not know it. Start by finding out what customers do think about your company, and work from their perspective in order to change their perception. On the flip side, I’ve worked with companies who think they have excellent customer service, but when I talk to their customers, that’s not the reality. Or companies have policies that are very hard for customers — making those companies hard to do business with. It’s so important to your business survival that you know how the market actually perceives you, instead of relying on assumptions or old knowledge.
Directionally, applying the Johari Window to companies helps to discover opportunities to create value, and it reveals areas that need to be mitigated — things that may be problems – but can be fixed.
At Value Prop, when we advise customers, we say you can only communicate the true truth of what you are. The Johari Window helps you go a step further and helps you identify that true truth.
The Value of Awareness
So what do you do with this awareness?
It can help you sharpen your messaging. The Johari Window and this awareness of your company will reveal that customer perceptions vary depending on which customer you’re talking about. While this could be taken down to the individual customer — I also mean at least to a customer-type. So if you know what target customer you want to reach, this tool can help you sharpen your messaging for that target.
It might also help you change the actual reality of what you do. After going through the Johari Window, you may decide you want to add a capability, hire talent, or change something in your product mix to create a different perspective (a new “true truth”) in the market about your company.
- Do you have a clear idea of how your target customer views your company?
- Have you utilized the Johari Window in business?
- What other benefits could this concept offer to companies?
- How do you help companies — or your own company — uncover blind spots and discover the “true truth?”