Affinity Diagrams

Affinity diagramming is a technique to gather and organize ideas within a group. In our case, we would use this technique to explore different topics in order to discover commonalities within a particular space. For example, in investigating design opportunities, each member of the group wrote down on post-it notes any breakdowns they observed in doing their contextual interviews. Each member did a brain dump for several minutes on post-it notes. When finished, each member of the group would place his or her post-it on a wall and briefly state the problem they observed. After all members had placed their observations on the wall, the post-its were massaged into categories. Themes would naturally emerge, highlighting at a high level some of the areas that are ripe for improvement.

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For example, one affinity diagramming session embarked on a journey to discover aspects of groups working together, what is involved, where things take place, what are some clear examples of groups working together and planning that takes place. The congeries of ideas was further distilled into the following categories:

  1. Proactive / Reactive
  2. Casual Unplanned Social
    1. Water cooler
    2. Golf
    3. Parking Lot
  3. Schedule, invitation, expertise, connections
    1. Fishing guide
    2. Wedding planner
    3. Funeral Planner
  4. Communication, strategy, hierarchy, organized, rigid
    1. Army
    2. Police
  5. Expert, Knowledge Transfer
    1. Athlete – Trainer
    2. Coach mentor
    3. Teacher – Student
  6. Timing
    1. Boat Regatta (Crew)
  7. Template vs. Custom
    1. Template – Marco Polo
    2. Template – Kitchen
    3. Template - Building a car
    4. Custom – Musicians
    5. Custom – Crime
    6. Custom – Surgery
    7. Custom – Space Station
  8. Planning / Investigation
    1. Architecture
    2. Human Genome
  9. Competitive, persuasion, lobbying
    1. Lawsuit
    2. Election Campaigns
    3. Condo association
  10. Negotiation
    1. UN
    2. Author / Agent
    3. Publishing
  11. Representation, Awareness of position
    1. Lobbying
    2. Passing a bill


    Brain Storming