When solving a problem, it is customary to hold a brainstorming session to gather everyone’s input. Because not all input is created equal, you will need to sort through it. This will assist the team in developing an effective action plan or solution that will eliminate the problem indefinitely. This is where an affinity diagram comes into play, and we’ll go over what it is and how to create one.
What is an Affinity Diagram?
An affinity diagram goes by several names, including affinity map, affinity chart, and K-J method. Essentially, it is a management tool that allows teams to keep the information collected through a brainstorming session organized. This information can be ideas, data, or research. The idea behind the diagram is to group the information into related categories for prioritization. This will make analyzing it more efficient and effective.
The affinity map comes in handy where there is a large amount of information to sort through. That way, it can be presented logically, making it easier to understand. Every team member is encouraged to participate to discover novel patterns that can lead to unique and creative solutions. After the information is analyzed, it is presented to everyone in the organization in a way that is easy to understand, promoting interdepartmental collaboration.
Creating an Affinity Diagram
When creating an affinity diagram, you need to assemble a group of 5-6 individuals with different personalities and mindsets. This is not a hard rule, but it is preferable to make the diagram more useful. Make sure each team member is an expert on the subject for better analysis, and one person should be picked to be the team leader.
With that out of the way, follow the below steps to create the affinity chart:
Step 1: Hold a brainstorming session to gather information. State the problem you’re trying to solve clearly and concisely, then write all ideas on individual sticky notes. Gather all sticky notes and place them on a whiteboard. The whiteboard can be physical or virtual, depending on whether the team is working in the same space or remotely.
Step 2: Create a group and place one sticky note in it. Compare the other sticky notes to the one in the first group to see if they are related. The first one that isn’t related should have a second group created for it.
Step 3: Continue comparing ideas and creating groups as needed until every sticky note has been grouped. Give each group a name based on the prevalent theme among the stick notes. The name can be a single word or phrase that best describes it.
Step 4: Write the problem statement at the top of the whiteboard and sort the groups based on priority. You can use different colored sticky notes to indicate priority levels. For example, red can represent a group with the highest priority while green can be a low-priority group.
With an affinity diagram, you can sort through a large amount of information, making it less confusing to analyze. This makes it easier to generate an actionable and innovative solution to a problem. And if you follow the steps outlined above, you can create an effective affinity diagram.