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Affinity Diagram - header

Collaborating toward a solution with an affinity diagram

This process organizes a large number of ideas into their natural relationships. With some simple collaboration tips and the right Post-it® Products, you and your teams can work together to get energized and use affinity mapping to find solutions to any challenge.

  • Solving problems can be pretty daunting at times, especially when we focus on trying to tackle everything at once. Too much information can make it tough to know where, or even how, to get started. Creating an affinity diagram template can take a big challenge and break the solution into smaller, simpler steps.

  • 1. Identify your focus and assemble your team

    At a high level, what is it you’re trying to solve? Maybe it’s an obstacle, a question about your audience, future goals, or a creative roadblock. Whatever it might be — even if you don’t know exactly what it is — write it down on a Post-it® Super Sticky Big Note. The larger size of the big note makes it great for small group collaboration, helping visualize your big question — and it sticks fast to vertical surfaces like a wall.

    Next, get your team together! For great collaboration, bring people in with different areas of expertise or backgrounds.

    Affinity diagram - hunker down for a brainstorm

  • 2. Hunker down for a brainstorm

    Now is the time to encourage your team to think freely — there are no bad ideas! Give everyone a different colored pad of Post-it® Super Sticky Notes 3 in. x 3 in. and have them write down as many ideas as they can in 30 minutes. When the time is up, have everyone stick their notes onto the wall — and if new ideas come up during this process, add them! This process should be fun, with no pressure. Let the thinking flow.

    Affinity diagram - start grouping related ideas

  • 3. Start grouping related ideas

    Now you can begin to make connections by grouping similar ideas together, which is key to the mapping process. Post-it® Super Sticky Notes make this easy to do on the fly by allowing you to remove and re-stick the notes to the wall in clusters. This is your process diagram. Don’t start a discussion just yet — this is the time to simply identify like-minded thoughts.

    At this point, go around the room and have each person give each group of ideas a name. Next, take a vote on the most important groups, and let everyone voice their opinion on which three groups resonate the most.

    Affinity diagram - rank the groups and discuss

  • 4. Rank the groups and discuss!

    Rank the most important groups by the number of votes they received, and assemble the groups with the most votes and collect them to share. Have the team discuss the outcome — ask them whether or not some groups are worth combining. If two or more groups are combined, the votes each group received will be combined (and will possibly push the group up the ranking scale).

    After ranking and additional discussion with the team, review the top three or four groups — these are now your top priorities for addressing the focus topic you started with! To take the benefits of the affinity process beyond the meeting room, have each team member write one or more actionable items down on a Post-it® Super Sticky Lined Note 4 in. x 4 in. to put in their planner and take to their desk. Keeping the note front and center will help keep the affinity process in mind, and the lines on the notes encourage easy list-making should more ideas spring up.

  • By bringing people together and getting their thoughts out, Post-it® Products can help propel your team toward achieving a larger goal by breaking a big challenge down into smaller, more manageable steps with these steps:

    1. Identify your focus
    2. Brainstorm
    3. Group related ideas
    4. Discuss

    collaboration problem_solving affinity_diagram professional_tips super_sticky big_notes super_sticky_big_notes