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					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                   14) training needed for the
2) manpower available                 personnel
3) equipment available                15) the actual purpose of the
                                      ELF monitor
4) failure mechanisms of interest
                                      16) the consumables needed for
5) in-house reliability testing
                                      the monitor
capability
                                      17) the utilities required by the
6) over-all procedure for the ELF
                                      monitor
monitor
                                      18) procedures and rel tests
7) components of a basic ELF
                                      needed for each component of
monitor
                                      the ELF monitor
8) customer returns being
                                      19) capital expense budget
received
                                      approved for the monitor
9) failure analysis support for the
                                      20) cost of sustaining the monitor
monitor
                                      per quarter
10) how the ELF monitor will
                                      21) reporting of the ELF monitor
integrate into the over-all Rel
                                      data
program of the company
                                      22) metrics for the ELF monitor
11) cost of any new equipment
needed                                23) ownership for the ELF
                                      monitor
12) levels of expertise of
personnel                             24) test support for the ELF
                                      monitor
13) what kind of data the ELF
monitor must generate

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?

                              Define how the ELF        Define the manpower          Assess the costs of
 Analyze why an ELF
                                Monitor will be             and logistical             setting up and
 Monitor needs to be
                             implemented to meet         requirements of the         sustaining the ELF
       set up
                                  its purpose               ELF Monitor                    Monitor

15) the actual purpose of   6) over-all procedure for   1) equipment needed          11) cost of any new
the ELF monitor             the ELF monitor                                          equipment needed
                                                        2) manpower available
10) how the ELF monitor     7) components of a basic                                 19) capital expense
will integrate into the     ELF monitor                 3) equipment available       budget approved for
over-all Rel program of                                                              the monitor
the company                 18) procedures and rel      5) in-house reliability
                            tests needed for each       testing capability           20) cost of sustaining
13) what kind of data the   component of the ELF                                     the monitor per quarter
ELF monitor must            monitor                     9) failure analysis
generate                                                support for the monitor
                            21) reporting of the ELF
4) failure mechanisms of    monitor data                24) test support for the
interest                                                ELF monitor
                            22) metrics for the ELF
8) customer returns         monitor                     17) the utilities required
                                                        by the monitor
being received (that need
                            23) ownership for the
to be prevented)                                        16) the consummables
                            ELF monitor
                                                        needed for the monitor

                                                        12) levels of expertise of
                                                        personnel

                                                        14) training needed for
                                                        the personnel


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.

				
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