An Affinity Diagram, also known as the KJ Method, is a tool used for organizing large amounts of disorganized information into groups based on their natural relationships and affinity (similarity of characteristics). The process has you place unorganized ideas generated from a brainstorming session into meaningful and connected themes. The goal of this process is to take a broad range of ideas and organize them so they can be more effectively analyzed.
Japanese anthropologist, Kawakita Jiro, originally developed the Affinity Diagram. His diagram is a type of brainstorming technique that allows you to generate, organize, and merge information concerning complex processes or problems. It is often used for solving problems with issues that seem to be very complex and difficult to manage.
As part of the process, a group of individuals review a bunch of ideas generated from brainstorming. After which, they place these ideas into related and meaningful categories called affinity sets. These categories tie different concepts together with one underlying theme. This way the newly formed groups of ideas can be analyzed and prioritized before being implemented.
Constructing an Affinity Diagram is a group activity involving about 3-6 participants. The idea is to get a variety of perspectives, opinions, and insights from all the participants.
The Affinity Diagram organizes ideas with following steps: