The affinity diagram is an orderly extension of a structured brainstorming session. Teams use this tool to help create order out of chaos, by categorizing large numbers of ideas. Rather than having teams react logically to a group of ideas, this technique helps to identify more creative solutions or to structure ideas for a cause-and-effect diagram.
Possible topics or problem statements where affinity diagrams could help are:
· Why policies don’t exist
· Why standards are not adhered to
· Why QA failed
· Why objective measures aren’t used
· Understanding the leadership role in quality management
· Why employees are not involved or lack empowerment
· Why quality doesn’t work
· Improving teamwork in the workplace
· Understanding the issues to automation and use of CASE (Computer Assisted Software Engineering) tools
To generate affinity diagrams, continue with these steps after a brainstorming session:
1. Write each idea on a separate index card.
2. Randomly place each index card on a flat surface, wallboard or flipchart.
3. In silence, team members move the cards into meaningful groups until consensus has been achieved (the group stops moving the cards).
4. The team discusses and then labels each category with a title.The team discusses each category, using cause-and-effect diagrams if needed