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All About the Affinity Diagram – Strategy Tools

The Affinity Diagram is a tool used in business planning to organize ideas and thoughts into related categories. The process involves recording thoughts and ideas onto sticky notes and placing them together into like groups and sorting the ideas.

We’re included some photos of affinity diagrams that’s conducted for our clients.

The tool is commonly used within project management and allows large numbers of ideas stemming from brainstorming to be sorted into groups, based on their natural relationships, for review and analysis.

The Richland County Recreation Committee of South Carolina hired OnStrategy to help develop their Strategic Plan. Click on the image to enlarge the photo.

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. (source)


  1. Have each member write one idea per sticky note.
  2. On a wall, create an affinity diagram by grouping like ideas.
  3. Select those with the most sticky notes – identify the value and use the rest of the words to craft a description.
  4. Repeat for each grouping until all the information you are seeking has been identified.
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