Johari window application in risk management

Johari window application in risk management

Jun 21st, 2017

Johari window application in risk management is an exploration of possible corporate application of a therapeutic tool. The psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham developed the tool back in 1955.

The Johari window became world-renown when US Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld quoted parts of it. You probably remember the known unknowns and the unknowns you do not know you don’t know in an “intelligence” talk.

The Johari window and its original meaning

The Johari window is a four squares graph shown in the picture below.

Johari window application in risk management
We show in the graph the original (psychological) “reading” of the window:

  • The Arena corresponds to the realm of what we see/perceive and the others see/perceive.
    For example: I am… happy with my job and my colleagues AND the others (my family, friends and colleagues) see and understand I am… happy with my job.
  • The Blind-spot is when others see what I cannot see.
    For example: John is… so unhappy with his job, but he thinks he is… happy because ……., he actually does not want to see….
  • The Facade is the realm of what we know and see, but others don’t.
    For example: It’s the realm of our secrets, that we do not want the others to see/know.
  • The Unknown is where neither we nor the others know.
    For example: John is willing to try a new experimental treatment for his condition.

In therapy the idea is to expand the Arena at the expenses of Blind-spot and Unknown resulting in greater knowledge of one-self. During the process the voluntary disclosure of privacy (i.e. the reduction of the Facade) may result in greater interpersonal intimacy and friendship. We depict the final result in the picture below.

Johari window application in risk management

Johari window application in risk management

Let’s see if Johari window application in risk management, applied to to the corporate risk management realm makes sense.

The Arena is where we find corporate “Known knowns”. These are “facts” and likely the realm of service life/operational “incidents”, stuff that we all know occurs time to time. These can also be uncertainties, when their probability is “one” and the only parameter that can vary is the magnitude (Forex variations, temperature variation of n sigma bounds around the average etc….). These being “facts of life” or “business as usual” generally SoP and “rules” deal with them. Thus they should not clutter risk registers. They are not part of risk management which can be defined as what we do to prepare for the Unexpected…(events that provoke n+ sigma bounds divergence from the average).

Risk assessments should start by recognizing that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

Risk assessments should start by recognizing that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence: if something has “never” occurred it does not mean it does not exist (do not censor hazardous scenarios).

Blind spots is where we find “Known Unknowns”. These are unexpected evolutions of known events: they should be considered as visible emerging risks. An example could be social media: their existence was known, but no one imagined their lighting flash and wide spread development. However a risk assessment should have considered them as emerging. The same applies for the Twin Towers-Airplane collision. The original design reportedly considered it, but everyone “forgot” with time.

Facade is where we find corporate “Unknown Knowns”, i.e. issues management prefers not to see, not to know. Companies that keep playing rosy scenarios and censoring their risks have a strong Facade.

Finally we reach the realm of the true Unknown, i.e. the Unknown Unknowns. These are issues we truly do not know we do not know…and only swift adaptive management can solve these….i.e. working with a sustainable, highly resilient system.
The similarities with the personal applications of the Johari window and its original meaning are striking.

Closing notes

Appropriate Risk Assessment and Management quite obviously expand the corporate Arena at the expenses of Blind-spot and Unknown. Johari window application in risk management actually works in the corporate life.

The voluntary disclosure of privacy (i.e. the reduction of corporate “hidden agendas”) may result in greater Social Licence to Operate (SLO) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The links with the requirements of disclosure in the mining industry (NI 43-101) are obvious.

The Johari window helps explaining while commonly accepted procedures like censoring risks to “credible failure” leads to misleading results and painful overexposures.

Once the risk approach is “cleaned-up” of as many biases and censures as possible it becomes evident that many events that are categorized as “Black Swans” actually aren’t.

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Category: Risk management

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