The Affinity-Interrelationship Method AIM
The problem solving tool presented in this document, the Affinity-Interrelationship Method (AIM), is based on a systematic use of two of the 7 management tools: the affinity diagram and the interrelationship diagraph. It has been inspired by Professor Shoji Shiba’s step- by-step approach.
Below the steps to conduct an AIM analysis will be described step by step, with additional comments to facilitate the process in separate boxes. In this manual there will be detailed instructions concerning how to conduct the analysis, including concerning the number of participants, how to sit, how to formulate a starting question to analyse, how to write data, how many pieces of data to include, how to combine pieces of data, etc. These instructions are pragmatic recommendations based on a large amount of practical experience of using the AIM approach – it will result in an analysis that both will be deep enough and will be possible to conduct within a limited time period.
If the recommendations are not followed, e.g. by adding more team members, by adding more data pieces, etc. – the complexity will increase and the time to conduct the analysis will be considerably longer. However, depending on the specific purpose of the analysis this kind of deviations from the recommended process can be motivated, keeping in mind the added time requirements.
For first time users, it is strongly recommended to keep to the detailed instructions in order to learn to use the method in the most time-efficient and quality-effective way – based on experiences not only from Japan, but also from extensive use of the method(s) in Europe and in North America.
For a beginner group following the instructions it will take 3-4 hours to conduct an analysis. For an experienced group it takes 1-2 hours, following the instructions, and allowing some time to discuss the next step after the AIM-analysis.
7 management tools