Brainstorming with an affinity diagram

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The purpose of this assignment is to use an affinity diagram to brainstorm and identify root causes of the organizational problem and potential solutions for addressing it.  Now that you have identified the basic problem you want to resolve within your organization, you will need to think about root causes for the problem. Read the Topic Materials and the “Brainstorming With an Affinity Diagram” handout to help you narrow and specify the cause(s) for the problem.  Complete the affinity diagram action steps outlined on the “Brainstorming With an Affinity Diagram” handout, including the “Five Whys Root Causes Analysis.” This can be done using online mind mapping resources like those found in the Topic Materials, by using post-it notes, or through the use of Excel or Word documents and tables. When constructing the affinity diagram, be sure to complete all six steps described on the handout. You will reference these root causes  APA style is not required, but solid academic writing is expected.  This assignment uses a rubric. Please review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion.  You are not required to submit this assignment to Turnitin. PSC-495-RS-Brainstorming with an Affinity Diagram.docx

Brainstorming With an Affinity Diagram An affinity diagram is a visual tool that organizes ideas by themes and is often used in brainstorming sessions to determine both root causes and potential solutions for a problem. This tool is most effective for face-to-face meetings; however, with the advancement of technology and shared desktop spaces, this method could be adapted for virtual teams. Participants in the process should include individuals from all stakeholder groups associated with the problem. 1. Introduce the problem or issue to participants. Normally, the facilitator has identified the problem or issue prior to the meeting. The process of introducing the problem and explaining how it is defined in the context of the project increases understanding of the participants and produces ideas that are aligned with the problem.  Example Problem/Issue: Voluntary attrition in the call center is 60%. 2. Proceed by brainstorming causes for the problem. Participants should use a separate sticky note to identify each item they believe is a cause of the problem (see example below). “Why” questions are often very beneficial when thinking about the problem.  Example “Why” Question: Why are call center employees voluntarily leaving the company at such a high rate?               3. Sort ideas into themes based upon commonalities (see example below).             4. Establish connections. As a team, discuss the categories and examine how they could potentially link together.  Example Connection: In this case, the “Leadership” theme had the most items. This item could be potentially aligned with the “Progression” theme since employees do not believe they are receiving feedback or have a clear career path. 5. Establish the root cause of the problem. Look at the established themes and ask “why” questions until the real root cause of the issue is identified (see example below). At this stage of the process, many people prefer the use of different colored sticky notes for the root causes that align to the ideas that have been brainstormed. Example: Five Whys Root Cause Analysis: Defined Problem: Voluntary attrition in the call center is 60%. Why are call center employees voluntarily leaving the company at such a high rate?  • Employees feel there is a lack of leadership. Why is that? • Employees do not know the performance standards. Why is that? • Employees do not receive feedback about their performance. Why is that? • Managers have not been trained in providing performance feedback. Why is that? • There is no manager training program. Why is that? • Most managers are promoted from the call center floor to fill immediate vacancies, so there is no time for training. 6. Validate the root causes (or causes) of the problem. Validation of root causes requires reviewing reporting or survey results. The validation phase separates the “noise” from real root causes of the problem. Noise is considered any item of low impact and low volume; however, it may be a recent event that individuals considered when brainstorming, like system downtime.

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