Affinity Diagram – Kawakita Jiro or KJ Method
An affinity diagram organizes ideas, problems, and solutions into related groups after a brainstorm. It helps categorize and organize a large number of fragmented uncertain information into logical cohesive groups. The goal is to create a limited number of groups. This results in better idea selection or a problem that is better understood.
Quality managers, project managers, marketing professionals, and anyone who uses brainstorming to generate ideas can use an affinity diagram to distill a large number of ideas to a refined set of related categories. Affinity diagrams are also known as the Kawakita Jiro or KJ method.
How to Conduct Affinity Session
- Present the topic or define the problem clearly
- Give the team index cards or sticky-notes
- Ask them to write an idea or issue per card
- Call out the ideas or issues and hang them on the wall
- Lead the team to silently sort the ideas or issues into categories
- Lead them labeling each group of cards
- Eliminate duplicate ideas
- Add arrows between items and groups to show significant relationships
- The ideas shouldn’t be discussed until the final affinity diagram is complete
- Record the actual spoken words when data is verbal (during interviews or observations)
- The best results tend to be achieved when the exercise is implemented by a cross-functional team
- Identify the purpose. Begin by deciding what issue or aspect of your business you wish to focus on with your diagram. Place it at the top of the page.
- Determine groupings. Decide on a logical set of related categories.
- Determine contributing factors. Make a list of ideas and issues generated by the brainstorm.
- Organize. Place each factor or idea beneath a category. Try combining duplicate issues to simplify.
- Analyze and share. Step back and look at the diagram. Analyze with various other coworkers or team members and it should be able to help you make a decision or see things more clearly.
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