An Affinity Diagram is a tool and technique widely used in organizations that solicits and categorizes a large set of seemingly disparate ideas identified during a brainstorming session into natural groupings. Also known as KJ Method, it was invented in the 1960s by Kawakita Jiro, a Japanese anthropologist. It enables teams to collaborate in a strategic thinking and decision making process, which increases the likelihood of producing desired results.
What are Affinity Diagrams, and what are best practices, tools and templates for teams and organizations?
Definition of Affinity Diagram
Description of Affinity Diagram
Affinity Diagrams help you organize many creative ideas and options generated during brainstorming, which is a key step in the early stage of the innovation process, and the intent is to produce a large number of ideas quickly through an open, creative process leveraging the diverse and collective thinking of a group. The general approach can be defined as follows:
- Set Context by grounding participants in the problem or opportunity space, project history, and insights.
- Focus Attention by writing the customer problem or question at hand on the board (How might we…? or What ways can…?).
- Ideate Quietly to balance different thinking styles. Spend two to three minutes capturing ideas individually. Each idea should be captured separately on its own 8½” X 11″ sheet of paper.
- Engage each participant by asking them to share an idea.
- Reinforce the ideas by repeating and clarifying them, and then post them randomly on the board or wall. Have the team quietly read all the posts on the wall, scanning and clustering ideas next to each other into related themes. Some ideas might stand alone or belong in more than one group/theme.
Discuss the results of the diagram, provide a header for each cluster, and prioritize.
Tools & Templates
Specific tools used to create Affinity Diagrams typically include post-it notes, markers, and a wall, table or whiteboard to post and cluster ideas.
upBOARD's Online Affinity Diagram Tools & Templates
Unlike most traditional Affinity Diagram techniques, upBOARD’s online Affinity Diagram collaboration tools allow any team or organization to instantly begin working with our web templates and input forms. Our digital platform goes far beyond other software tools by including progress dashboards, data integration from existing documents or other SaaS software, elegant intuitive designs, and full access on any desktop or mobile device.