Process improvement project - Improve -
What are Affinity Diagrams used for?
Too many ideas?
Where to begin with all the data?
How can you use data and ideas effectively?
Affinity diagrams helps you organise it!
1. Organizes Ideas into Common Themes
2. Groups similar ideas together
Read on for why and how to create Affinity Diagrams...
When can Affinity Diagrams be used?
To draw out common themes from a large amount of information,
To discover previously unseen connections between various ideas or information,
To brainstorm Root Causes and solutions to a problem,
Where a solution is not readily apparent,
You want to reach a consensus or decision and have a lot of variables to consider, concepts to discuss, ideas to connect, or opinions to incorporate,
When there is a large volume of information to sort through.
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Step 1 - Describe the problem or issue
Example - Service to customers is sub standard
1. Generate ideas by brainstorming. Write each idea on a separate sticky note and put these on a wall or flip chart.
Emphasize volume (you need lots of ideas)
Don’t judge (don’t ask for immediate solutions)
Piggyback on other ideas (ask for more detail if the post-it description is too vague)
Step 2 - Sort Ideas
Sort ideas into natural themes by asking
What ideas are similar?
Is this idea connected to any of the others?
If you're working in a team
Separate into smaller groups of 3 to 4 people
Sort the ideas in silence so that no one is influenced by anyone else's comments
Keep moving the cards around until consensus is reached
Step 3 - Group consensus
1. Discuss the shared meaning of each of the sorted groups. Continue until consensus is reached. If some ideas do not fit into any theme, separate them as "stand-alone" ideas
2. If some ideas fit into more than one theme, create a duplicate card and put it in the proper group. Try to limit the total number of themes to between five and nine
Step 4 - Create Theme Cards
Also called affinity cards or header cards
1. Create a short 3-5 word description for the relationship. If you are working in a group, do this together, out loud
2. Write the theme/header on a blank card and place at the top of the group it describes
3. Then create a "super-header" where necessary to group themes
When you have grouped all themes (headers) together in as few categories as possible, results will give you a straight forward, simple, hierarchical structure that shows, at a glance, where the relationships are
You now have a focused summary of ideas to start working on, and making an Action Plan, and a clear goal of what it is you want to fix.