organizations know the root cause of their problems, they will go
through three phases to generate and select appropriate solutions. The
- Open phase - the goal is to generate as many solutions as possible.
- Narrow phase - solutions are clarified, categorized, and prioritized.
- Close phase - appropriate solutions are selected for implementation.
Many tools are available for generating ideas; one such tool being an affinity diagram
that can be used in brainstorming. An affinity diagram can help you
categorize a large volume of data into themes from which you can draw
conclusions. However, the key to producing a good affinity diagram is in
the level of participation in brainstorming session(s).
brainstorming sessions hinge on having a good facilitator and following
basic brainstorming rules such as ensuring that everyone on the team
participates in generating ideas. In addition, there must be no
criticism of ideas and all ideas must be documented.
easy way to document ideas is to use sticky notes and post the notes on
a large wall where everyone can see the ideas. Then, move the sticky
notes around into specific categories to help visualize the themes.
the affinity diagram is completed and themes are apparent, you move
into the narrow phase to clarify and categorize the themes, and vote to
narrow the list of options. Multi-voting
can be used to prioritize a final list of ideas (i.e., "narrow" the
list). However, be aware that multi-voting is not decision making; it is
only one method for prioritizing a final list.
a final list of ideas is assembled, it is time to select the best
possible solution(s). This is the close phase. During solution
selection, certain criteria are followed to allow for solutions that can
be implemented within 90 days ("quick hits") and those that are
implementable in the short, medium, and long-term. In essence, the close
phase delineates between must and want criteria.
with selected solutions in hand, projects can be started to correct
root causes of problems. Of course, applying good project management
principles at this point is a must for any organization interested in