What is an Affinity Diagram? How to make an affinity diagram, advantages, and FAQs.

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What is an Affinity Diagram? 

Affinity diagram is a tool used to organize large amounts of data or information and ideas based on their mutual relationship and similarities. It is very helpful in case you have a lot of data to process which is not categorized yet.

It is also called affinity chart or affinity mapping. Data or information can be sourced from brainstorming sessions, research, user feedback, user needs, insights, etc. All of this requires proper consolidation and organizing. 

How to make an Affinity Diagram 

  1. Prepare post-it notes out data fragments, documented facts, ideas and notable points.
    Paste these notes on charts or bulletin boards. Through these notes, the design team is able to order and arrange groups of information and ideas, and the relationship between the various segments of information and the shared themes is also reflected on the board.  
  1. Pick out one sticky note and make it the first note of a certain group.
    Then have another note and observe if it has any resemblance or relationship with the previous one based on the idea or data or information it displays. If yes then club both together in one group.
    If not then you shall create a new group and repeat the process for all the other information containing notes and make distinct clusters out of given data.
  1. Prioritise your clusters based on the value of information they contain and the business’s objectives and goals.
  1. Your clusters are not isolated, they share mutual relationships therefore interlink them with lines to depict the connection. 
  1. After all the identification is done, describe your ideas, approaches and motives and proceed to work on them. Refer to the affinity diagram at all the stages of the process. 

Advantages of Affinity Diagram 

  • Vital tool for group decision making. 
  • Helps to sort large information and data for a whole team. 
  • It is a hassle free way for individual members to group information without disturbing the whole team.  
  • The non linear approach helps the members to discover relationships between data clusters that might be difficult to figure out otherwise.

FAQs 

Q: Who uses an affinity diagram? 

A: Affinity diagram can be used by a team or an individual also to deal with a mix of data of large volumes. It is used to form a structured approach, prioritization of ideas, and objectives, and for team decision-making process. 

Q: How to make an affinity diagram? 

A: (i) Brainstorm ideas, collect data, and put them on sticky notes. 
(ii) form clusters by pasting similar notes next to each other on the board. 
(iii) label clusters of similar categorical information.
(iv) interlink the clusters through lines drawn to depict the relationship they share. 

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