What in the world are Affinity Diagrams?
Essentially, their function is visual organization of data, especially during multi-person brainstorming sessions.
You’ll end up asking yourself a lot of questions you never thought you would have to when you became a business owner.
There are so many things to consider when running a business of your own, which you’ve probably already figured out because you are here now asking yourself strange questions.
Depending on the type of business you own, some of those answers will mean more to you than others.
This particular answer will, I think, be especially beneficial to you.
One of the biggest priorities and challenges in being a business owner is staying organized.
Considerations are many and the workload of getting your company up and running involves a lot of effort. A lot of long days and nights, little sleep, endless meetings with contractors, suppliers, bankers, investors, etc.
Keeping everything in order can be a huge challenge. And it doesn’t stop once the business is up and running. Sorry.
Most every business venture involves a team of people. As a business owner, it is important to have your “finger on the pulse” of your team at all times.
Understanding the challenges they face helps you understand the overall challenges of the business.
Cutting away the fat (the elements which aren’t working) and making the process leaner and more efficient for your staff is the best way to move forward in the most effective manner.
Every business venture encounters challenges along the way. A business’ growth sometimes seems in direct proportion to its challenges!
Businesses adapt to ever-changing business climates. They have to or they die.
Innovative thinkers who anticipate upcoming trends and how best to tackle them are a resource which takes a team from pretty good to pretty amazing. If you’re not flexible, like a bamboo shoot, as Lao Tzu said, you will break. Brittle breaks. Flexible survives.
So, when your team is “brainstorming” there are lots of proposals and ideas tossed onto the table. Some good, some bad, some with potential for expansion into better ideas.
How do you keep all of that positive and creative consciousness in order?
This is when we get back to the organizational skills mentioned above.
One of the best ways to keep everything straight during those brainstorming sessions is to put it in a visual format. This visual method is the core concept of affinity diagrams.
At their essence, an affinity diagrams is a business tool which is used during staff meetings to help keep the stream of ideas and proposals of the team organized.
How? Glad you asked. It’s easy to implement.
You simply choose someone on your team to keep track of ideas or proposals by writing them on note cards and categorizing them accordingly.
(Be sure whomever you choose to fulfill this role understands they be fully immersed in data. It’s pretty much the only way they will be effective in presenting results beyond simple materials yields.)
You can do it on a computer too if you want.
Whichever method you use in keeping track, just follow the same basic guidelines for each and you shouldn’t have any problems.
Once your recorder has written down each idea or concept, display them all on a screen or wall for everyone to see.
Once you have received each person’s input and everyone is able to see each idea, you can decipher as a group whether any of the ideas can be categorized with other ideas shown.
Label each sub-group with a title at the top to help differentiate between them and to help keep them organized.
The last thing to do is simply go through each card or idea proposed until each of them has fallen within a sub-group.
This step will be very effective for you later when further analyzing your ideas and managing each cluster. This filtering process will also help you and your team when producing cause-and-effect diagrams for future business analysis.
The affinity diagram is often referred to as the KJ Method and is part of the Seven Management and Planning Tools. It was created and developed in the 1960s by Jiro Kawakita.
He developed it in order to help teams of people keep their concepts, ideas, and data collecting organized, whether they were business teams or non-profit organizations.
Benefits of Affinity Diagrams!
If you use them properly, they will help you keep all the incoming ideas sorted and categorized contextually so they can be referenced quickly during field interviews.
Affinity diagrams are super useful for business owners and their teams.
They help you retain all the great ideas you and your team come up with while simultaneously prioritizing each of them into manageable sub-categories for future reference.
To learn more about RedFynn and our products and services, call us at 888-510-9871.