KJ Technique – Agree on Priorities


Getting everyone in an organization to work together can feel like an impossible task. Many Company leaders have referred to this challenge as “Herding Cats”. While it is challenging to get folks to agree and commit to a shared vision, there is a technique that fosters consensus.

Hello KJ Technique…

The KJ is a collaborative technique to help organize subjective ideas, build consensus, and set priorities across large groups of people.

Originally Invented by anthropologist Jiro Kawakita in the 1960’s, the KJ Technique, also known as affinity diagramming, organizes a large number of ideas quickly building consensus with large groups of people.

The technique is centered on a focus question. The focus question must be a compelling question that inspires participants to provide genuine responses. An example might be a question like; “What top 5 things preventing Widgetcorp from succeeding?”. It is generally easier for people to identify obstacles over solutions so the task of identifying things that prevent folks form achieving our goals will bear more fruit from the participants.

After participants have given the question some thought, they are asked to write their priority items (obstacles) on stickies and post them on a wall. This brings all he ideas to light and everyone is encouraged to read each others notes. It’s important there is no talking during this exercise so everyone has an opportunity to from their opinions uninfluenced by others.

Participants are asked to group the notes in related clusters. ANy participant can move the notes as he or she sees fit. This process can get a bit chaotic when there are more than 20 participants so it’s important to keep things quiet and productive.

After the notes are grouped and everyone is confident the groups are logical, participants are asked to name then rank the groups in order of importance. This is where the magic happens. You count up the groups that have the most votes as a group you have identified your top department priorities, product objectives, or business goals.

Of course there is a little more to it but that’s the general idea. I have yet to facilitate a session where people don’t leave the group with a renewed sense of mission and clarity of vision.

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