7.2.3 AFFINITY DIAGRAMS

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The purpose of the Affinity Diagram, shown in Figure 7-3, is to organize

large groups of information into meaningful categories.

F i g u r e 7 - 3 — A f f i n i t y D i a g r a m

A

1 2

3 4

5 6

B

11 12

13 14

C

21 22

The Affinity Diagram or KJ Method (so named for Kwakita Jiro) helps break

old patterns of thought, reveal new patterns, and generate more creative ways

of thinking. The Affinity Diagram helps organize the team’s thoughts most effectively

when the families seem too large and complex; you need to break out

of old, traditional ways of thinking; everything seems chaotic; or there are many

requirements.

If you research this process, you will find there are two schools of thought.

The first is to start at the top and work down. The second is to start at the

bottom and work up. The following process is my favorite; that is, starting from

the bottom and working up. The reason I choose this methodology is because it

creates its own organization rather than being forced into some predetermined

organization.

1. Convert the mound of data created earlier to 3 x 5 cards or to Post-it Notes.

2. Begin arranging these notes into related categories. These are the numerical

squares shown in Figure 7-3. No doubt you will create a lot of categories and

a lot of piles. As time goes on though, you will begin changing a word here

and there and combining these piles into more closely related groups. Just

don’t lose the essence of the card entry.

3. At some point, it will make sense to create a ‘‘Header’’ card that describes

the group. The ‘‘Header’’ cards become the Alpha cards shown in Figure 7-

3. Iterate until the groupings and entries are, in your judgment, optimized.

Your ‘‘gut’’ will tell you when you are through. The software shown in Table

7-4 is available to assist in this chore.

T a b l e 7 - 4 — A f f i n i t y D i a g r a m S o f t w a r e

Tool Product Vendor

Affinity Diagram

‘‘EDGE Diagrammer’’ Pacestar Software

‘‘SmartDraw’’ SmartDraw.com

‘‘Six Sigma for Excel’’ BaRaN Systems LLC

Following is contact information for the companies listed in Table 7-4:

BaRaN Systems, LLC

Phone: 780-449-6554

Web site: www.baran-systems.com

Pacestar Software

P.O. Box 51974

Phoenix, AZ 85076-1974

Phone: 480-893-3046

Fax: 413-480-0645

Web site: www.pacestar.com

E-mail: pacestar@compuserve.com

SmartDraw.com

10085 Carroll Canyon, Suite 220

San Diego, CA 92131

Phone: 800-501-0314

Fax: 858-549-2830