What is an Affinity Diagram and How to make it?

Max 4min read
affinity diagram

What is an Affinity Diagram? 

Affinity Diagram Definition

The result of a brainstorming session is an affinity diagram, one of seven planning-related management tools. The graphic, sometimes known as the KJ technique, was first developed by Kawakita Jiro in the 1960s.

An affinity diagram is a tool to organize large amounts of data or information and ideas based on their mutual relationship and similarities. 

It is beneficial if you have a lot of data to process that is not categorized yet.

It is also called affinity chart or affinity mapping. Data 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 

  • Prepare post-it notes out data fragments, documented facts, ideas, and notable points.
  • Paste these notes on charts or bulletin boards. The design team can order and arrange groups of information and ideas through these notes. The board also reflects the relationship between the many pieces of information and the common topics.
  • Pick out one sticky note and make it the first note of a particular group.
  • Then, have another note and observe if it resembles or relates to the previous one based on the idea, data, or information. If yes, then club both together in one group.
  • If not, 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.
  • Prioritize your clusters based on the value of the information they contain and the business’s objectives and goals.
  • Your clusters are not isolated. They share mutual relationships. Therefore, interlink them with lines to depict the connection. 
  • After all the identification gets done, describe your ideas, approaches, and motives and work on them. Refer to the affinity diagram at all the stages of the process. 

Advantages of Affinity Diagram 

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

Mind mapping vs. Affinity diagram

Mind mapping and affinity diagrams are techniques for visualizing ideas; mind mapping is more free-form and exploratory. Affinity diagrams allow us to organize and categorize concepts logically and systematically. While these tools have a similar nature, their purposes are vastly different.

The relationships between ideas have a logical framework. An affinity diagram is a logical representation of the relationship between ideas. Suppose you’re working on an airport project. In that case, you might organize your activities based on the items you’ll need to build for the project. 

On the other hand, a mental map is less rationally ordered, with concepts that may or may not be related floating around. It facilitates the visualization of data and the discovery of connections between disparate concepts.

What is the purpose of the affinity diagram?

By organizing elements into categories, an affinity diagram aids a team in seeing and reviewing vast amounts of data. Instead of studying each proposal on an extensive list without context, the team can detect trends and patterns. They may be able to make better selections if they can see those trends.

We can use a simple affinity diagram technique by sorting and clustering language-based information into associations. The aim is to find embedded patterns (and occasionally disrupt old) thinking. It can also reveal where the majority of individuals are thinking.

When looking for categories and meta-categories within a group of concepts, use an affinity diagram.

An affinity diagram is a great approach to product design. It plays a major role in product development and product management tools.

Affinity diagrams aid in discovering unique and novel linkages between distinct project components. Putting ideas into a clear, visual format allows teams to develop innovative solutions they might not have thought of otherwise.

What is an affinity diagram example?

To begin, write out the issue. Then silently scribble ideas, statistics, and other information on cards, scraps of paper, or Post-it notes. 

The keyword here is discreet, and it isn’t like a regular brainstorming session when people express themselves freely. It would help if you kept this a silent activity so that none of the team members’ opinions get influenced.

Put into homogeneous groups discreetly.

Create heading cards with affinity. Human resources-related materials, for example, are organized consistently. 

There are two types of training available. Billing is one group. Employee empowerment gets dealt with in the final group. Each of the homogenous categories will have heading cards placed on it.

Arrange the groupings in the process sequence. Employees, for example, begin with human resources when they are employed. Employee participation is the responsibility of human resources. The process is in the middle. 

Billing occurs at the end of the game. Finally, because training is something that all employees must participate in regularly, the team decided to put it last.


Who uses an affinity diagram?

The affinity diagram can get used by a team or an individual. The purpose is to deal with a mix of data in large volumes. You can use it to form a structured approach, prioritize ideas and objectives, and the team decision-making process.

Why should the team employ an affinity diagram?

An affinity diagram gets used to create, organize, and integrate data about a product, process, complicated issue, or problem.

Creating an affinity diagram is a creative method that allows you to convey your thoughts without having to quantify them. The affinity diagram aids in developing a group’s system of thought on a complicated issue or problem.

A group can use an affinity diagram at any information generation and organization process step.

Is affinity diagram cause and effect?

There is no causal relationship between the components shown in the Affinity Diagram. This diagram aims to prepare the data for additional cause-and-effect analysis.

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