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5 Steps to Creating an Affinity Diagram

An affinity diagram, or affinity map, is a brainstorming technique where all ideas are listed out, then similar ideas are grouped together. After all the groups have been formed, each group is then titled and given subsets to further organize your thoughts. Creating an affinity diagram is an easy way to recognize patterns among what may seem like drastically different ideas. Creating a visual that allows us to see which ideas are similar to each other, lets us organize our thoughts, and allows for the most efficient decision-making processes.


  1. List out all of your ideas. It doesn’t matter if you think they’re good or bad; this part of the exercise is about getting your thoughts out visually.
  2. Group your ideas into over-arching themes. These themes should be relatively broad. The goal of this is to let yourself see the few core paths you’re focusing on.
  3. Title each group. Giving each group a name allows you to really define each path.
  4. Organize each idea within each group into subsets based on a priority or other hierarchy system. Generally, it’s best to organize each idea within a group by starting with the most general and breaking off into specific subsets.
  5. Put your affinity map to use and start creating action items to move forward with!

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