The K-J method

Affinity Diagram

Method was developed as the the Affinity Diagram by Japanese anthropologist Jiro Kawakita in the 1960s and has become one of the Seven Management and Planning Tools of modern Japanese quality management and uses values of Buddhism intended as structured meditation.
It is a Creativity or problem-solving technique in which ideas are written on cards, then the cards are grouped, and finally the grouped ideas are classified, named, voted and selected.
The KJ-Method tends to place emphasis on the ideas being relevant, verifiable and important. This variation of brainstorming encourages less verbal members of a group to participate. The method, in less than 45-minutes, allows teams to come to a democratic consensus on an answer, avoiding endless discussion for elements that turn out to be unimportant/

Procedure Steps

1. Determination of a Focus Question or problem statement.  Sample focus questions are: What are the biggest obstacles preventing our products from selling?
2. All members of the group write responses to the problem or question on separate cards.
a) Analyse. All relevant facts and information are written on individual cards and collated.
b) Idea generation. With the help of  Brainstorming writing  participants  generate a supply of ideas on cards. Ideas are writing on separate cards.
3. Then each participant puts their cards  up randomly on the white board or large wall space so all notes are visible to everyone. Participant read other people’s contributions and add new ideas to the collection.
4. The cards are silently grouped and categorize by each member while the others observe. Similar ideas are collected and placed together. It is very important that no one talk during this step.
5. Naming Each Group.  When ideas are grouped, for each group, each participant select a heading to each group and assign a name that captures the meaning of the group. For each group write an apt title and place it on top of its group of cards. Names should be short. It is useful to write or highlight this note in a different color. Group names can be wrote on different color stickies.
4. If there many groups repeat the group making, using new titles to create higher-level groups. Combine groups into “supergroups” if appropriate.
Participants can discuss the shape of the chart, any surprising patterns, and especially reasons for moving controversial notes.
5.  Voting for the Most Important Groups.
Every participant democratically share their opinion on the most important groups. They can first  vote on group then on  specific ideas within the groups.

Procedures  of voting

a). Give each  participant 3 -9  votes (stars)  to  place on the best ideas or groups.
b). Give each  participant  for voting 100 percent per person.
6.  Ranking the Most Important Groups or ideas within groups.
Participans Grab all the group sticky notes with votes on them and place them on the whiteboard .  The sticky  with the highest numbers votes are place at the top.
7. Participants  try to explain and express what the chart means to them.  Ideas for the solution are often developed whilst explaining the structure of the problem. The team spend the most “discussion time” talking about the most important outcomes of the exercise.


It allows a team to be creative and critical in a productive manner,
It helps separate facts from opinions. It is an efficient way of organizing seemingly unrelated facts. It means thoughts are expressed, clarified, summarised and prioritised in a non-confrontational manner. It promotes effective teamwork.
It reduces the dominance of a vocal or strong individual on the conclusions of the team.