Affinity Diagrams

Lately Affinity Diagrams have been used a lot! So I thought what better way to showcase this improvement tool than with a blog post.

Affinity Diagrams are tools used by groups to gather and sort ideas and issues when brainstorming. Affinities provide structure to and help initiate action in brainstorming sessions. They also support teams by allowing them to work on a creative level with difficult or emotional issues.

Affinities are great to use and extremely simple! All you need are sticky notes, markers, and flip chart paper (if available, if not just use a wall). Tell your team/group what the topic is they are brainstorming on and ask them to write down their ideas or issues on a sticky note. This allows their thoughts to be private if the subject is sensitive. Once complete, gather all the stickies and place them into several groups (the groups will become evident when reading the stickies). It’s as simple as that. This information can then be easily created on the computer for storage purposes.

For example The Leaders in Continuous Improvement student organization used an Affinity Diagram when brainstorming different ideas and events for the upcoming semester. This allowed all of the members to come up with several different ideas without being persuaded by any other members. The results were fantastic! Once completed the different ideas were transferred into a computer document and sent out to the members. Another example of Affinity Diagrams was at the Termination Process Kaizen. Affinity was a great tool to get the group to “vent” about the many different issues with the current termination process. The end results allowed the facilitator and team leader to see where the majority of complaints/issues were coming from.

Affinities are great for all projects, so don’t be afraid to get out there and affinitize!


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