Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma Definitions

Glossary terms, history, people and definitions about Lean and Six Sigma

Affinity Diagram

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A method of combining various topics, ideas and issues brainstormed by a team into higher level themes or categories. This helps to simplify and organize the results.

The technique also goes by the name KJ Method, named after the creator.

The process involves a series of steps:

  1. Identify the issue/problem.
  2. Gather a team of cross-functional individuals, including key stakeholders of the problem or issue.
  3. Use brainstorming methods to identify causes, solutions or symptoms onto a card or sticky note, or done virtually using software and screen sharing. This works best when there is an experienced facilitator.
  4. Capture all ideas from the team.
  5. Have team members go to the board and rearrange and move the notes close together into categories or themes. Some ideas can be combined together into one note if nearly identical.
  6. Label the theme/category on top of each cluster (using a different color or label).
  7. Review the category names and continue to move around the notes until the team is content with the grouping. When team members disagree, open it up for discussion.
  8. Continue to brainstorm using the new topic/category headers until the team has exhausted their ideas.
  9. The team might decide to vote or select certain categories to dig deeper into, using 5 Why’s technique, or develop a list of action items or potential solutions.

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