KJ-Method

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The KJ-Method is fundamentally similar to the Snowball Technique. Introduced by the Japanese, it has become one of the ‘Seven management (New) tools’ of modern Japanese quality management and uses values of Buddhism intended as structured meditation.

The Basic Cycle, similar to mind-mapping, except it uses nested clusters rather than a tree structure

  1. Card making: all relevant facts and information are written on individual cards and collated (Post-its would do). In a group-work version, this step could be adapted to use BrainStorming or Constrained Brainwriting, to generate a supply of ideas on cards. The KJ-Method tends to place emphasis on the ideas being relevant, verifiable and important.
  2. Grouping and naming: The cards are shuffled, spread out and read carefully. Cards that look as though they belong together should be grouped, ignoring any ‘oddities’. For each group write an apt title and place it on top of its group of cards. Repeat the group making, using new titles and any ‘oddities’ to create higher-level groups. If you have more than about 10 groups, repeat this iterative process at yet higher levels.
  3. Redistribution: At this stage in the group-work version, the cards are collected and reallocated in order than no one is given their own cards. One card is read out, and all contributors look through the cards in their own ‘hand’ of cards, and find any that seem to go with the one read out, so building a ‘group’. A name is selected for the set that clearly portrays the contents of the cards in the set, but is neither too broad nor a simple aggregation of the cards in the group
  4. Chart making: Now that you have less than 10 groups, some of which may contain sub-groups, sub-sub-groups, etc arrange them carefully on a large sheet of paper in a spatial pattern that helps you to appreciate the overall picture.
  5. Explanation: Now try to express what the chart means to you, writing notes as you go and being careful to differentiate personal interpretations from the facts contained in the chart. Ideas for the solution are often developed whilst explaining the structure of the problem.

Multiple Cycles, The basic cycle can be used to build up a problem-solving method through repetition.

A simple two-cycle version will do it once for problem definition and once for problem solution.

A more complex six cycle version will do it for:

  1. Problem identification
  2. Defining the circumstances
  3. Diagnosis and problem-formulation
  4. Solutions and working hypotheses
  5. Activation of solutions
  6. Programmed application of solutions.
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