What is Affinity Grouping?

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Affinity Grouping

What is Affinity Grouping?

Affinity Grouping Definition

The method of acquiring and bringing collective elements of qualitative (non-numeric) data depending on shared similarities is known as affinity grouping. Affinity grouping prioritizes tasks in a group setting.

Affinity Grouping refers to participants brainstorming their ideas and then grouping those ideas into shared similarity categories. Once these groups are created, the participants vote within the groups to rank them.

One of your primary duties as a product manager is prioritizing the product’s functionalities in addition to sketching a roadmap utilizing product management tools. This is where the concept of Affinity Grouping comes into play. Affinity Grouping is a collaborative activity that you do with diverse stakeholders in your organization to prioritize features for your product.

The general idea behind this method is straightforward. Participants get together and discuss several ideas and opportunities. 

Following this, they organize the ideas into various groups, with one group having ideas on similar themes. 

These groups are called ‘Affinity Groups.’ 

After establishing these groups, the participants now work on ranking each group through voting. This simple method results in a comprehensive and prioritized list of new ideas for an organization to try.

How does Affinity Grouping work?

The first step of the Affinity Grouping process involves getting a group of participants from various departments of an organization together. The grouping would help cover a broader spectrum of ideas and perspectives. You should give something to every participant to record their data physically, like a post-it note. 

The second step is the significant process of Affinity Grouping, in which ideas based on similar themes are grouped. The participants look at all the ideas and then place them in the group relevant to them. Then create a new group with that idea’s theme if there isn’t a group already.

After a while, you will notice many patterns beginning to emerge with a vast web linking ideas to one another. You can effectively track the patterns through an Affinity diagram.

In affinity grouping, you can segregate ideas based on various themes that would make sense for your business, such as the departments or the company they are concerned with, goals, user outcomes, and much more.

The final stage of the Affinity Grouping process involves all the members casting votes on the groups of ideas. The participants prioritize various groups of ideas in the company’s best interest.

What can Affinity Grouping be used for?

Affinity Grouping has a vast range of applications. But it is mainly used to generate employee feedback and get ideas about a product’s design.

A team could have dozens of ideas about a part of a product and implementation of product management software. Analyzing the ideas, filtering out the good ones, and then their execution could be a long exhausting process. 

This is where Affinity Grouping comes in. A prioritized list of ideas helps realize the ideas that you could try right away. And decide which ideas to push back.

Challenges with Affinity Grouping

Affinity Grouping generally requires a gathering of a large group of people. Thus, managing them can be a big ask. The person responsible for this must make sure that new ideas are coming in from every part of the group. They must also make sure that the participants are invested in the process and do not feel hesitant to share their ideas.

Affinity Grouping meetings usually last for hours. Thus that person should make sure that the energy level in the meeting room is always up.

During the voting process, they should make sure that everyone gets a chance to share their thoughts on the ideas that they feel should be prioritized.

An Affinity Grouping meeting may feel like a big challenge. However, a good manager or an inspiring team leader can help overcome these hurdles and have a productive and smooth meeting.

When to Use Affinity Grouping?

For product teams that need ways of collaboratively brainstorming new features and projects, affinity grouping can be helpful. Affinity grouping allows members from various functional departments to work together. Additionally, they allow other teams to have a voice in product road mapping, such as marketing, sales, and so on.

How to Facilitate an Affinity Grouping Activity?

Affinity grouping doesn’t have to be a difficult or rigorous process. Here’s how to run a simple session.

Assemble a group of people who will take part in the activity. Participants should ideally come from all parts of the company so that you may gather a diverse range of ideas and viewpoints.

Collect as many ideas as you can as a group. Utilize post-it notes, notepads, a whiteboard, or even a piece of paper to keep track of your ideas.

Filter through your thoughts with the help of participants, and arrange related concepts into “affinity groups.” These facilitate in organizing of thoughts into concepts.

Vote on the various topics as a group. You can use it as a buy-a-feature prioritization session or have participants score the themes in order of necessity as a group.


What is an Affinity Diagram?

An Affinity Diagram is a tool that accepts a large pool of data and then organizes them into groups having similar backgrounds or themes. This tool can often be effective during brainstorming sessions like Affinity Grouping meetings.

What is Affinity Voting?

Affinity Voting is the final step of the Affinity Grouping process. The participants vote for the group of ideas they feel should be given priority over others.

What is the affinity process?

The affinity process forms the bulk of the Affinity Grouping meeting. It is the part where the participants split the ideas into various groups.

What is Affinity Grouping Analysis?

Ideas are distributed into their respective groups. Then, the participants analyze the ideas based on their usability and potential benefits they may have. After all the groups have been studied, voting begins.

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