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Affinity Diagram: Examples

The Quality Toolbook > Affinity Diagram > Examples

When to use it | How to understand it | Example | How to use it | Practical variations


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The personnel department of a food supermarket chain store identified a high resignation rate of good checkout staff. There was information available from exit interviews about their reasons for leaving, but this was disorganized and there was no clear area that they felt they could address. They decided to use the KJ method and an Affinity Diagram to try to better understand why these people were leaving (see as illustrated).

As a result, the checkout process was investigated further and eventually completely redesigned. This included a redesigned booth and hourly breaks for operators. Consequently, there were significantly fewer leavers (and as a bonus, customer satisfaction increased).



Fig. 1. Supermarket checkout example

Other examples

  • The design department of a manufacturer of porcelain figurines brainstorm new product ideas. This results in a lot of interesting snippets, but no clear direction. They use an Affinity Diagram to organize and understand the results and find a whole new product line in natural animal figures that reflect current environmental concerns.
  • A marketing group have done a customer survey and want to organize the unstructured comments given in the section of 'how could we better serve your needs'. They copy each comment, word for word onto cards and use an Affinity Diagram. The result is a clear segmentation of needs.
  • A production cell team use an Affinity Diagram to help organize their thoughts about possible improvement projects before presenting them to their supervisor. The result is clear agreement on key points.

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