Affinity Diagram

      

The Affinity Diagram is an analysis tool that allows a team to systematically generate a large volume of ideas or inputs about a problem or issue and organize these into logical groupings to promote a fuller understanding of the problem or issue and facilitate its resolution.

         

The affinity diagram is good for: 1) encouraging people to become creative in providing their inputs to unravel a problem; 2) promoting communication among different members of a team; 3) identifying both the natural and non-conventional links between ideas; 4) bringing out breakthrough results in a natural way; 5) enhances the feeling of ownership of results among team members; and 6) preventing a team from meeting a blank wall when the information either becomes overwhelming or confusing.

     

To construct an affinity diagram, the following steps are usually followed:

           

1) state the problem or issue of interest in one full sentence (see example in Fig. 1);

     

What steps and considerations are involved in setting up an early life failure monitor?

Figure 1. Example of a Problem Statement for an Affinity Diagram

    

2) brainstorm at least 20 ideas or sub-issues that can contribute to the understanding and resolution of the problem or over-all issue at hand and write each input in large, bold letters on a sticky note; post each sticky note on a board that's visible to the entire team (see Table 1 for ideas brainstormed for the problem in Figure 1);

         

Table 1. Ideas Generated for the Problem Statement in Figure 1

1) equipment needed

2) manpower available

3) equipment available

4) failure mechanisms of interest

5) in-house reliability testing capability

6) over-all procedure for the ELF monitor

7) components of a basic ELF monitor

8) customer returns being received

9) failure analysis support for the monitor

10) how the ELF monitor will integrate into the over-all Rel program of the company

11) cost of any new equipment needed

12) levels of expertise of personnel

13) what kind of data the ELF monitor must generate

14) training needed for the personnel

15) the actual purpose of the ELF monitor

16)  the consummables needed for the monitor

17) the utilities required by the monitor

18) procedures and rel tests needed for each component of the ELF monitor

19) capital expense budget approved for the monitor

20) cost of sustaining the monitor per quarter

21) reporting of the ELF monitor data

22) metrics for the ELF monitor

23) ownership for the ELF monitor

24) test support for the ELF monitor

    

3) sort the ideas from the brainstorming into 5-10 related groupings by silently moving the sticky notes around; very large groupings may be further broken down into smaller subgroups, as long as each subgroup represents a common idea;

  

4) capture the central thought or theme that each grouping of ideas represents and write this on a bigger sticky note (of different color, if possible), which will serve as the header card of the grouping; the central theme should be arrived at through consensus; post each header card at the top of the group it represents;

  

5) draw the final affinity diagram (see Figure 2); the problem or issue statement should be in a large box at the top of the diagram; the groupings of ideas must be below this problem statement box; the ideas in each grouping must be clustered within a box that is topped by the header card.  

   

What steps and considerations are involved in setting up an early life failure monitor?

Analyze why an ELF Monitor needs to be set up

Define how the ELF Monitor will be implemented to meet its purpose

Define the manpower and logistical requirements of the ELF Monitor

Assess the costs of setting up and sustaining  the ELF Monitor

 

15) the actual purpose of the ELF monitor

 

10) how the ELF monitor will integrate into the over-all Rel program of the company

 

13) what kind of data the ELF monitor must generate

 

4) failure mechanisms of interest

 

8) customer returns being received (that need to be prevented)

 

6) over-all procedure for the ELF monitor

   

7) components of a basic ELF monitor

 

18) procedures and rel tests needed for each component of the ELF monitor

  

21) reporting of the ELF monitor data

 

22) metrics for the ELF monitor

 

23) ownership for the ELF monitor

 

1) equipment needed

 

2) manpower available

 

3) equipment available

 

5) in-house reliability testing capability

 

9) failure analysis support for the monitor

 

24) test support for the ELF monitor

 

17) the utilities required by the monitor

 

16)  the consummables needed for the monitor

 

12) levels of expertise of personnel

 

14) training needed for the personnel

 

11) cost of any new equipment needed

   

19) capital expense budget approved for the monitor

 

20) cost of sustaining the monitor per quarter

 

Figure 2.  A Simple Affinity Diagram for the Problem Stated in Figure 1

       

In the affinity diagram above, the ideas were grouped into four general steps that need to be followed in order to understand what it takes to set up an ELF Monitor.  These steps (the central themes of the groupings) were shown in the gray cells of the table, which represent the header cards of an actual affinity diagram construction session.

   

See Also:  Tree Diagram Matrix Diagram

     

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