No matter what you call it--an Affinity Diagram, the KJ Method or a sticky note sort--your team members should be using it every week to develop a clear understanding of their work.

Watch the video above to learn how to do an Affinity Diagram

It's one of the best methods to learn to start working differently.

I've used it 1000's of times to create clarity and structure. I could use it everyday with one of my teams. Yet I still forget to summon it regularly when I'm working on a new project.

In its most basic form, an Affinity Diagram works like this:

  1. You brainstorm a list of items in response to a question or topic.

  2. You sort them into groups of 'affinity' ' items that are like each other. (Hence the title of the method!)

  3. Label those groups with a category name. What you're left with is a clear, organized understanding of the subject at hand.

And it works on any list of items.

  • Plan everything your team has to get done in the next two weeks

  • Synthesize the feedback you hear from customers

  • Evaluate topics for a speaker series

  • Organize all the features in an application

  • Target clients you'd like to develop

  • Prioritize things you want to learn about this year

  • Explore ways to develop your staff

It's great because in a matter of 45 minutes, you can create information and ideas that are helpful to your effort. And you'll also have a structure that keeps you organized moving forward.

Start using this method at least once a week, and your team will start to notice the benefits:

  • More clarity ' because information has been effectively synthesized less effectively

  • More conviction ' because you are consistently exploring new options and prioritizing what's most important

  • More collaboration ' because everyone is consistently engaging in the exercise together

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