Johari Window

The Johari Window is a model created by Joeseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955. The model has been used to help people become more self-aware. I was first exposed to the Johari Window in a Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator training session. The model is a four-paned “window” that divides personal awareness into four different quadrants: open, hidden, blind, and unknown

I am constantly fascinated with reapplying models outside their original context as a way to stimulate unique insights that can potentially provide a competitive advantage. I decided to reapply the Joahri Window to the challenge of community branding. I apologize in advance to purists who are more than capable (and would be absolutely right) of pointing out the gazillion reasons my reapplication of the model is fundamentally flawed. But, I encourage you to keep an open mind and just “go with it”.

In this model each person is represented by their own window. In my reapplication, each community would be represented by their own window.

Open Quadrant

This represents things you know about your community, and others know about your community. The knowledge this window represents can include not only factual information, but the feelings, behaviors, wants, needs, and desires of your citizens. Essentially it includes any information describing what your community is.

Blind Quadrant

This represents things others know about your community, but your community does not know about itself. They can see it, but your community cannot. You have to get feedback from people you trust from outside your community, or from people who just moved into your community to provide you the perspective about your community that you are unaware of and a sense for the impact it has on how your community is perceived.

Hidden Quadrant

This represents things you know about your community that others outside your community do not know. This typically includes vast amounts of information. It is the entirety of your community’s story that others have yet to discover. As people get to interact more with your community, the information gets disclosed.

Unknown Quadrant

This represents things that neither you nor others know about your community. For example, your community may be sitting on top of a previously undiscovered source of natural gas that can have a dramatic impact on its future economic prosperity. Or there s a capability/asset your community does not fully understand the significance of and is illuminated by a change of circumstances. This quadrant tends to include “game changing” things that make your community see itself in a different light.

Discussion – What’s the Point?

The Johari Window model is all about proactive self-discovery. It gives you a framework on how to think about seeking insights. The emphasis is on reaching out to people you trust to see yourself from a different vantage point. As you become more self-aware, you are in a position to make better choice on areas to improve yourself.

Reapplication of the Johari Window as a way to discover things about your community can yield the same benefit. It will encourage you to seek the perspective of people outside your community and understand their perceptions as well as seeking input from people inside your community. The insights you gain from the process should put your community in a better vantage point to make choices that will improve its attractiveness for capital investment.

Your goal is to make the Open Quadrant as big as possible by purposefully learning and sharing more and more about your community. Self-disclosure makes the Open Quadrant bigger by sharing more about your community and reducing the size of the Hidden Quadrant. Feedback from others makes the Open Quadrant bigger by reducing the size of the Blind Quadrant. Ultimately, you will discover that application of the Johari Window can help you improve the collaboration and communication within your community.

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7 Comments so far

  1. To mix metaphors I think Johari’s window is often “an elephant on the room.” Most marketers know about it but don’t want to talk about it as it challenges a number of traditional and/or fashionable research methodologies including traditional focus groups and co-creation

  2. Perks Domingo

    January 3, 2012

    First time I’ve seen Johari Window used in a community setting. I think you can stretch its use to an organization (ie. Company, associations, clubs) level but it may be forcing it to apply to a community unless it’s really a strong-knit, solid one. An organization is more homogenous in terms of values, mission, and self-image so unknowns, blind-spots and hiddens make more sense. For example, a company may be patriarchal but the owner doesn’t realize that because he’s been used to managing and making all decisions and he’s been successful. That is his blind spot. A community is composed of people that are too diverse and may not have a strong set of common values, mission, and self-image. Just a thought.

  3. Della Rucker

    January 3, 2012

    Really like this one, Ed. Thanks!

  4. Charley Bowman

    January 5, 2012

    I’ve not seen this before Ed. I printing this so I can take a longer look at it. It seems very thought provoking. Thanks for posting.

  5. Rob Hancock

    January 8, 2012

    I’ve also found the Johari window useful in ideation work – i.e. Known Knowns are the Obvious Ideas (probably things we already do), Known Unknowns and Unknown Knowns are things we have to apply logic to discover but Unknown Unknowns are things we really have to create (using ideation techniques)

  6. Dr. Myrna R.H. Araneta

    January 20, 2012

    I like the way you applied the JOHARI Window model in the context of a community. awareness. It’s well done.

    If there is anything I’d add would be on how the JOHARI WINDOW model could create ACCOUNTABILITIES for choices made by individual members within a community (organization, teams, group, etc). After all, this framework was designed for the purpose of helping individuals grow through using others’ feedback to initiate a change and correct blindspots, dark sides (hidden selves) and unknowns (potentials). I’ve used this model when I coach leaders and executives to help ID personal change before they can lead others to a change process in the community or organization. Communities/organizations, nations do not transform as a collective alone—-We need to take personal responsibility to change our choices as individuals and start to change from within first–before we can expect our communities/orgs to change as a COLLECTIVE. Often times, we (as a collective), community/org. leaders could make dysfunctional choices that could negatively impact the community/orgs because decisions were made on automatic pilot, blindspots, dark sides (hidden selves), etc. as individuals we attribute faults and blame others, our leaders, instead of taking a hard look at our personal choices as members of the community, organization and or country in which we live. See brief explanation below.

    Here’s the model. I apologize this space could not display the quadrants well. I can send an attachment as email–Send your email to


    Self vs Others


    Attributed to Self Choice Attributed to Others

    Attributed to Self Attributed to Others

    GOAL: To be aware of our locus of control about our choices as a tool for internal change and accountability.

    • When we are AWARE that we are in control of our choices, we can be
    ACCOUNTABLE for what we choose.
    • When we are UNAWARE of the choices we have made, we make them AUTOMATICALLY out of habit.
    •When we are AWARE of the choices, but give CONTROL of our choices to others, We BLAME them.

    •When we are unaware of choosing and doing something because we are UNAWARE, we are acting from our CULTURAL belief system and how we were “SOCIALIZED” in the world because of the INFLUENCE of that unique place from our CULTURAL BELIEF SYSTEM .

    When we choose to become aware of our beliefs and how they may be out of sync with sound and current data, our ability to manage change within ourselves and within human systems (community) that we are a part of–we are able to change ourselves

    Sometimes, beliefs that served us well in the past are no longer useful to us. If we are on automatic pilot, we may continue to base our actions on those beliefs. When we want to manage such beliefs differently, the ones that are the most difficult to manage are those that we choose to view as part of who WE are, part of our sense of identity, and essential to our self-esteem (“EGO”). When we choose to realize that such beliefs are not necessarily related to who we are, that difficulty—ends.

  7. […] community branding. […]

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