Brainstorming & Affinity Diagramming

Authors: Katharine Schlag, MSN, RN and John D. Voss, MD
Credit/contact hours: .25
Estimated time to complete: 20 minutes
Publication Date: Jan. 8, 2020
Expiration date: Jan. 8, 2026



As quality improvement teams aim to improve clinical or operational processes, it will be necessary to elicit and catalog ideas about how a process currently functions, what works well and what doesn’t, and what a future or ideal process will look like. This module describes the use of two tools for idea generation. Brainstorming is a method to quickly produce many ideas from stakeholders, with creativity, and without judgment. Affinity diagramming allows the team to categorize and better understand the complexities of the ideas they have identified. These steps usually precede multi-voting and prioritization which are described in another module.

Note: This course is eligible for ACPE credit.

You Will Learn

  • Describe brainstorming to generate a large volume of ideas for change
  • Describe affinity diagramming to organize ideas into categories
  • Identify opportunities to use brainstorming and affinity diagramming in healthcare quality improvement

Method and medium:

Learners participate in the interactive learning modules by correctly answering multiple choice questions dispersed throughout. Learners will be prompted to try again, if a question is answered incorrectly.The course will open in a new tab – to exit the course, simply close the tab.