Leveraging the Johari Window for Change
Have you ever had that moment where you thought everyone was on the same page, only to find out they were on a completely different chapter?
The Johari Window is a model developed by Luft and Ingham in order to help individuals and groups better understand their relationships and communication with others. A study by Black (1) found that 73% of participants reported an improvement in their self-awareness after using the Johari Window.
If you work in the change management area, the Johari window is one of the most rewarding and simplest tools in change management.
This model consists of two dimensions for knowledge: self and others. This then creates four quadrants: open, blind spot, hidden and unknown.
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In the open area, behaviours, attitudes and beliefs are known to both the individual and others. Within change management, the open area is a place for conversations about how to use this knowledge in the most effective and efficient way.
The blind spot represents things that are unknown to the individual but known to others, while the hidden area represents things that are known to the individual but not to others. The blind spot can be a significant barrier to successful change. Individuals and whole stakeholder groups may be unaware of or not recognise certain behaviours, attitudes and beliefs in themselves. This is an area that, once known, is where the change journey begins, working with the individual or group to create awareness.
“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.”– Eckhart Tolle
The hidden area is interesting, as it is a source of where information may be hidden to you or your change team. It may be the reason for resistance to change. Curiosity and ‘go-look-see’ stakeholder engagement activities help you and your team discover these areas and, more importantly, tacit knowledge that you won’t find anywhere by analysis.
The unknown area represents things that are unknown to both the individual and others, such as unconscious biases and assumptions. The unknown area can be a source of unpredictability and uncertainty, but acknowledging its existence and noting it is enough for new emergence and awareness to begin.
When exploring this with a client in recruitment, the insight gathered relating to assumptions regarding their selection processes made apparent some ‘hidden areas’ that had not been considered. As a result, the recruitment team agreed to work collaboratively with each client and use the Johari Window as an open framework with their clients.
Actions To Take
- Open: Best practice can be shared. Creates efficiency and improvement
- Hidden: Change Management, Teaching, Explaining
- Blind Spot: Discovery, Go Look See, Listening, Testing Assumptions
- Unknown: Frame ambiguity, Collaborative work, Asking Questions, Testing Assumptions
Change management is a critical component of organisational transformation. The Johari Window provides valuable insights and awareness to change managers and stakeholders, enabling them to navigate the complexities of change and achieve the desired outcomes for their organisation.
By using this tool and adopting a strategic and flexible approach to change management, change managers can build trust, reduce resistance to change and align change plans with stakeholder expectations.
“A recruitment team agreed to work collaboratively with each client and use the Johari Window as an open framework with their clients.”
From my experience, with the help of the Johari Window, you can corral your team of change agents and steer them towards a successful change initiative. By shining a light on the blind spots and hidden areas, you can help your team understand themselves better and communicate more effectively. By acknowledging the unknown areas, you can prepare for any surprises or challenges that come your way.
Kinetik carries out a range of training interventions in change management, as well as diagnostics to assess your readiness for change.
1. Horsburgh, Dorothy. “Communication Skills 2: Improving Communication Skills Using the Johari Window.” Nursing Times, vol. 99, no. 38, 2003, pp. 26-27.
2. Black, A. E. (2005). The Johari Window: A tool for self-awareness, personal development, and group communication. Human Resource Development International, 8(1), 49-65. This article provides a thorough review of the Johari Window model, its theoretical background, and its practical applications in a range of settings.