Organizational problem and potential solutions

The purpose of this assignment is to identify an organizational problem to solve within your current workplace or industry and use an affinity diagram to brainstorm the root causes of the organizational problem and potential solutions for addressing it.

For this assignment, the first step is to identify an organizational problem to solve within your current workplace or industry. This is an opportunity for you to apply your learning while addressing a real-world problem. After you have identified a possible organizational problem, complete the “Brainstorming With an Affinity Diagram” resource to help you narrow and specify the root cause for the problem. Completing the affinity diagram will not only help you identify the root causes for the problem but also to determine the scope of influence you can have in reaching a potential solution. Keep in mind that this exercise is meant to identify a viable solution within the scope of influence in which you are directly involved and will ultimately allow you to be an agent of change.

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Complete the affinity diagram action steps outlined in the “Brainstorming With an Affinity Diagram” resource, including the Five Whys Root Cause Analysis section. This can be done using online mind mapping resources like those found in the study 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 resource. You will reference these root causes again within your final business proposal in Topic 8.

Submit both the affinity diagram and the five whys root cause analysis to your instructor.  Evidence of revision from instructor feedback will be assessed on the final business proposal.

APA style is not required, but solid academic writing is expected.

Brainstorming With an Affinity Diagram

An affinity diagram is a visual tool that organizes ideas by themes often used in brainstorming sessions to determine both root causes and potential solutions for a problem. Use this tool to brainstorm a viable business problem and its root causes and determine the best one that fits within the scope of influence you and counterparts might have on that particular 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. Identify a high-level problem in your business or industry. Consider areas where the organization or department is not meeting metrics (example: low customer satisfaction, attrition problems, defects, etc.).Normally, the facilitator has identified the problem or issue prior to the meeting and introduces the problem or issue to the participants. The process of introducing the problem and explaining how it is defined in the context of the project increases understanding of the participants, as well as producing ideas that are aligned with the problem.

Example Problem/Issue: Voluntary attrition in the call center is 60%.

  1. 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?


  1. Next, sort the ideas into themes based upon commonalities (see example below).













  1. Work with your counterparts to establish connections. 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.

  1. Use the connections to 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.
  1. Finally, validate the root causes (or causes) of the problem. Validation of root causes requires collecting data and 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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