Affinity Diagramming Tool

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Maybe you are a restaurant manager struggling with efficiency. A marketing director drowning in a pile of consumer research? No matter the situation, affinity diagramming helps organize your thoughts and overcome workplace challenge.


The affinity diagram is a business tool used to organize ideas and data. People have been grouping data into groups based on natural relationships for thousands of years; however, the term affinity diagram was devised by Jiro Kawakita in the 1960s and is sometimes referred to as the KJ Method.


The tool allows large numbers of ideas stemming from brainstorming to be sorted into groups, based on their natural relationships, for review and analysis. It is also frequently used as a way to organize notes and insights from field interviews. It can also be used for organizing other freeform comments, such as open-ended survey responses, support call logs, or other qualitative data. The theory of affinity diagrams is to harness natural creativity by facilitating an environment where everyone has a voice, conflict is minimized, and gut reactions are favored over analysis.


The affinity diagram organizes ideas with following steps:

  1. Record each idea on cards or sticky notes.

  2. Look for patterns and notes or observations that are related

  3. Sort cards into groups for each pattern or theme until all cards have been used.

Once the cards have been sorted into groups the team may sort large clusters into subgroups for easier management and analysis.


In many cases, the best results tend to be achieved when the activity is completed by a cross-functional team, including key stakeholders.