Affinity Diagrams

Organizing Information and Ideas Into Common Themes

(Also Known as the K-J Method or Affinity Charts)

Group similar items or ideas together.

© iStockphoto/mura

Think about the last time you tried to make sense of a large number of ideas.

You may have felt overwhelmed by all of the suggestions, or perhaps you struggled to organize them and make sense of them. You may even have worried that you'd missed vital details, because you "couldn't see the wood for the trees."

In situations like this, you can use affinity diagrams to organize information and ideas, and see how they're connected. We'll look at how to create affinity diagrams in this article.

About the Tool

Japanese anthropologist Kawakita Jiro originally developed the affinity diagram – also known as the K-J Method or the affinity chart – in the 1960s.

When you use an affinity diagram, an example of which is shown in figure 1 below, you group unorganized ideas into meaningful themes. You can then see the connections between them.

Figure 1 – An Affinity Diagram

How to Use the Tool

Here is a step-by-step guide to creating affinity diagrams. As we work through the steps below, we'll use the example of organizing ideas from a brainstorming   session.

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