- To help analyse your research when you have a lot of mixed data, such as user insights, brainstorm ideas, design issues, and ethnographic research.
- To help you define the problem and develop solutions.
When To Run This
- After you’ve finished conducting research.
- During Rapid Ideation — you can use it to group similar ideas.
- Previous research
- Or insights written on individual post-it notes
- Or ideas on post-it notes
For broad approaches
- A cross-disciplinary team of people, of differing seniority
For lean approaches
- one person who’s fully across the project
- Large Whiteboard
- Or wall space
- Post-it notes (yellow + blue)
- Sticky dots
Choose your team (or person, if taking a lean approach). Your team should be across the project and be from different disciplines, genders, ages and status. Keep it to 6 people or less and include both external and internal stakeholders if you can.
Pick a facilitator to lead the discussion, provide background information, and take photos of the map as you work. For the lean approach, the organiser (you) can facilitate.
Find a large wall space or table in an area with few distractions to set out your affinity map.
Gather your insights or ideas, and write them on yellow post-it notes.
- If you’re analysing data, have the researchers write it up. These could be quotes, documented facts, interview stories, drawings, or observations.
- If you’re doing a brainstorm, use the ideas that you’ve come up with during this or previous sessions.
Action It:Action It:
Spread out your insights (yellow post-it notes) on your wall space in any order.
Group the similar or relevant ones into top level categories as a team. Discuss these and move the groupings into a hierarchy of importance, and then create sub-categories.
Name the groups. Use a blue post-it note to label each group with a theme that best describes it. List each group of notes vertically under their new name.
Review the naming and groups as a team to make sure that they’re labeled and placed properly.
Make insight statements. Take the names of the groups and come up with a sentence that summarises the insight.
Prioritise them by giving each person 3 dots to vote on which insights or themes they think are the most important based on the goals of the project.
- Each person can do grouping (step 6) individually so that everyone gets the opportunity to share their views without being influenced by others.
- It’s ok to rearrange the groups if it doesn’t make sense to you. You can discuss this as a team after grouping.
- Each idea or insight (post-it) should be a phrase or sentence that is understable to people who aren’t across the project.
- If it makes sense, draw lines between individual notes or groups to show that they’re connected.
- If you’re facilitating, make sure you’re being patient, using customer empathy, effective listening skills and people management skills.
It's Going Well When:
- Your team can agree on important issues
- You’re having breakthroughs
- Complicated information that was ambiguous starts making sense
- Your team is uses instinct to group ideas
Watch Out For:
- Not enough guidance when there’s a lot of data to go through
- The reasons behind insight groupings, they should have a solid background
- How much time you’re using if there’s a lot of data