Using the Johari Window in Procurement and Sourcing

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Art van Bodegraven.

In The Beginning . . .

Say, what is that Johari Window thingy, anyway? Sounds pretty exotic. Well, maybe, sort of. Here's the fundamental construct. It's, stripped of all pretense – a simple set of 4 boxes within one larger box.

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The technique and the tool was developed in 1955 by American psychologists Harrington Ingham and Joseph Luft to help assess relationships with oneself and others, highlighting known and unknown areas and blind spots. Joe and Harry's visual tool quickly became the Johari Window. How exotic is that?

Moving Forward 

Fast forward: It took virtually no time at all for a cohort of consultants to adapt the core structure to present almost anything in a simple visual format. Generally speaking, progress and advance are from bottom to top and from left to right. That usually means that the desired state, highest payback or most challenging pints are in the upper right quadrant.

Of course, that Western conceit falls to pieces when the tool is applied in other cultures, especially those with a right-to-left orientation. I use the window myself in any number of scenarios (but am not doctrinaire about the top/bottom, left/right progressions).

What About in Sourcing and Procurement?

We live in a strangely overwhelming portion of the universe. We have, in any enterprise of any size, needs to deal with a staggering array vendors and suppliers of a vast range of size, sophistication, simplicity, complexity, services, products and materials. How can we possibly deal with all of them and all of their offerings?

The Johari Window is an extraordinarily useful tool for sorting them out. I have personal preferences, but they are subject to change from one environment to another. So, I don't much care how you elect to use such a tool, as long as you have gone through a critical, unblinking and rational assessment of the factors that call for differentiation among the multitudes of suppliers, all of whom would love to capture your full attention.

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There might be factors of unit cost, or total spend, or commonality and uniqueness, or single sourcing, or complexity, or mission-criticality, or broad availability, or rationales for special communications and relationships. Whatever you decide, don't decide to not decide. This is too important to not be addressed.

And Then What?

Now you have a way to better structure your relationships. You'll know with whom to partner with and with whom to even more deeply integrate. You'll be able to relax a little when it's time to buy paper clips, and save your energy for working with joint development of unique technology that blows away competitors.

You'll know when, how and with whom to employ a variety of RFX tools, and when iron-clad legal arrangements are mandatory (and when they're overkill that get in the way of everyday business).

You don't need Joe or Harry, you just need Johari - and the mother wit to think independently regarding how to use their legacy.

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