KJ Backgound, KJ Process Steps
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
In the 1960s, Professor Jiro Kawakita
of Tokyo Institute of Technology developed a technique to allow an area of concern and solutions for it to shape its course according to the neutral facts and nuances of the situation.
In Japan it's called "kami-kire ho
", which means "scrap paper technique". It's called "scrap paper" because originally Kawakita had participants write thoughts and ideas on scrap paper. The technique is commonly referred to in the West as "KJ".
KJ synthesizes different individual perspectives and experiences into a shared problem definition and solution that is acceptable to the group.
There are two phases in KJ: understanding the problem and solving the problem. Understanding the problem is getting each member of the group to get a sense of the essence of the problem definition; solving the problem means encouraging all members to participate in suggesting solutions.
KJ Process / KJ Steps
1. Form team (3-6 members, include key stakeholders, allocate approx. 2 hours, arrange materials: post its, markers, brown paper, flip chart or whiteboard)
2. Pose a question (try to put is as a "why" or "what" question, rather than a "how" question and write it at the top of the brown paper)
3. Write statements of fact that relate to the question (5-10 per team member on separate post-it notes, stick to the fact - no judgments)
4. Arrange similar facts into groups (in silence, strictly redundant fact may be stacked on top of each other, if you don;t like a grouping just change it - don't argue)
5. Create headers for groups of facts (should summarize the facts in that group, keep it short, use a different, striking color and font for the headers)
6. Arrange groups and identify links among groups (stack the facts underneath the appropriate headers, arrange the headers into bigger groups. Circle the bigger groups and give them a label. Conduct a multi-voting: each team member may allocate three coins/dots/stars to indicate the best ideas). Draw lines to indicate relationships between the bigger groups.
7. Write concluding statement and reflect (should capture the essence of the facts, headers and groups)
8. Perform ritual "YO WAN": after team members have come to consensus about the KJ Diagram, they all hold their hands in front of them at waist level with palms up. The team chants YO...WAN while simultaneously bringing the hands together in a clapping motion at chest height. The WAN syllable coincides with the clap. If the chant was not sufficiently enthusiastic, the process is repeated (or the team returns to the KJ Diagram until it is a good reflection of the group;s problem solving effort)
- Ulrich, Karl (2003) KJ Diagrams