Ever heard about Johari Window? Psychologists Joseph and Harrington, in 1955, came up with this term when trying to help people become self-aware. While I would not want to get into too many details about it, here is just a simple explanation in case you haven’t heard about it.
In the world of product management, these quadrants could become useful. Product management is not about throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. It rather is a frugal approach and helps determine where the priorities should lie. Right from a shared understanding of the vision to the development of features to the actual usage and to the usability itself, there are several aspects that fit into what I call a modified Johari window. I will try to add more perspective below.
The 4 quadrants in Johari window present permutations and combinations of Knowns and Unknowns between Self and Others. For our context, the focal point is a (set of) customer/ user problems. Based on which quadrant the product finds itself in, we might be able to determine our north-star.
If the user problems are known by everyone and the business capabilities solve them, we can safely place them in the Open category. The emphasis here would be on continuing to engage the customers so that they become self-driven product ambassadors at some point. These delighted customers are our golden geese.
If the user problems are known but the business doesn't address them already because they do not know/ understand, that is a blind-spot problem. This is a forum to connect better with the customers and understand from their perspective. If there is a scope for enhanced functionality/ new opportunities in the market, this is the quadrant open for insights. New avenues could emerge through this.
When the user problems are unknown and the business is unaware of what needs to be done, it's better to do more brainstorming. Understanding the market is important here, as better ideas come to the fore outside the office premises than inside.
If what comes to surface is the user problems being unknown but the business has an idea about what to venture in to, it's time for some experimentation. The ideas merely become a tool for validation before deciding to pivot or proceed. In other terms, they lead to a hypothesis that requires validation.
I hope the use of this concept in product management opens up a different thinking process and provides useful insights. We can then carefully place our attention on what matters most.
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