In this 4:25 minute video, we discuss the Affinity Diagram in Six Sigma. Specifically, after this video, you’ll understand what the affinity diagram is, when to use it, how to facilitate a meeting using the Affinity Diagram as a method of organizing information and categorizing data. You’ll also see examples of how the affinity diagram is used in the context of Six Sigma DMAIC projects.
A common tool in process improvement is the Affinity Diagram. It’s a simple exercise that encourages low-risk participation and it is effective in documenting most of the relevant issues with a specific topic.
The video below explains more…
What is an Affinity Diagram
An Affinity Diagram (sometimes referred to as a KJ, after the initials of the person who created this technique, Kawakita Jiro) is a special kind of brainstorming tool. You use an Affinity Diagram to:
- Gather large numbers of ideas, opinions, or issues and group those items that are naturally related
- Identify, for each grouping, a single concept that ties the group together
When To Use an Affinity Diagram
- Chaos exists
- The team is drowning in a large volume of ideas
- Breakthrough thinking is required
- Broad issues or themes must be identified
When Not To Use an Affinity Diagram
As a rule of thumb, if less than 15 items of information have been identified, you can skip the Affinity process. Instead, you can clarify and combine the ideas and then use a Decision Making Tool to identify the highest priority items.
Useful Tips For an Affinity Exercise
- Use Sticky Notes.
- Affinitize Silently. The most effective way to work is to have everyone move the displayed ideas at will, without talking. This is a new experience for many people. It has two positive results: It encourages unconventional thinking (which is good), while it discourages semantic battles (which are bad). It also helps prevent one person from steering the Affinity.
- Go For Gut Reactions. Encourage team members not to agonize over sorting but to react quickly to what they see. Speed rather than deliberation is the order of the day, so keep the process moving.
- Handle disagreements simply. The process provides a simple way to handle disagreements over the placement of ideas: If a team member doesn’t like where an idea is grouped, he or she moves it. This creates an environment in which it is okay to disagree with people having a different viewpoint. If consensus cannot be reached, make a duplicate of the idea and place one copy in each group.
Building an Affinity Diagram is a creative rather than a logical process that encourages participation because everyone’s ideas find their way into the exercise. Below is a video tutorial of how to create and facilitate an Affinity Diagram meeting.