What is an affinity diagram? An affinity diagram shows the relationships between information, opinions, problems, solutions, and issues by placing them in related groups. It allows a broad range of ideas to be organized so they can be more effectively analyzed. It's also known as a KJ diagram.
The History of Affinity Diagrams
Affinity diagrams were invented by Jiro Kawakita in the 1960s, who called this diagram the K-J Method. They help prioritize actions and improve group decision-making when resources are limited.
By the 1970s, affinity diagrams were part of what's known as the Seven Management and Planning Tools, an approach to process improvement used in Total Quality Control in Japan.
Other tools include: interrelationship diagram, tree diagram, prioritization matrix, matrix diagram, process decision program chart, and activity network diagram.
When to Use Affinity Diagrams?
Affinity diagrams come in handy after a big brainstorming session. Project managers use them to organize a large number of ideas so team members are better able to see the patterns in what's been discussed and help identify potential solutions to problems.
Affinity diagrams often lead to the creation of more detailed cause and effect diagrams.
Best Practices When Creating Affinity Diagrams
- Identify the purpose of the diagram.
Determine the issue or aspect of business that will be the focus of the affinity diagram. Enter an appropriate title at the top of the page.
- Determine groupings.
Create major categories into which the solutions or factors can be arranged. These groupings should be shown in a logical, natural way and should be able to encompass more than one of the minor factors.
- Determine contributing factors.
Decide what major information, ideas, or issues to include.
Place each of the factors within its associated grouping to begin. Continue to divide the factors until each has been placed under an appropriate category.
- Analyze and share.
Analyze the affinity diagram with team members. This will help the team reach a decision or come to a better understanding of the key issues to address.
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