Affinity diagram is a technique to group information to get a better overview and understanding of huge amount of information. It is often used in problem solving when analysing issues.
The affinity diagram was developed in the 1960s by Japanese anthropologist Jiro Kawakita, and is also known under the names, K-J Method, affinity chart and thematic analysis.

When to use Affinity Diagram

It is often used after brainstorming sessions or if analysing result from surveys. In any situation where you have a huge amount of ideas or facts collected, and they are not sorted in any kind of order, it would be beneficial to use Affinity Diagrams.

How to Conduct Affinity Diagram

After a brainstorming session all the post-it or notes is spread out on a large surface like a table or a wall, and they you can start to group them.
Start with grouping the first to items that are similar, and continue through all of them. Don’t worry if there are a few that does not fit into a group at this time, it will be looked at later.
Next step is to name the groups, discuss this together with the rest of the team. During this part of the process there might be a few additional movements between groups, also the loners can be discussed here as well.
At the end everything is divided into groups, and further analysis can be done.

Affinity Diagram Example

An example of when affinity diagrams are used is when conducting a cause and effect analysis. This is during the root cause analysis of the problem solving session. Here all potential causes are split into following 6 categories

  • Man
  • Machine
  • Material
  • Method
  • Measurement
  • Environment

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Affinity Diagram