Affinity mapping is a simple technique to organise a lot of ideas and/or information into larger clusters, based on their affinity and connection. It can be used in most futuring processes when a lot of material is generated by individuals and smaller groups that needs to be synthesized or combined into a coherent whole.

Process

Making an affinity map requires a large horizontal or vertical surface that you can write on, a set of cards or post-its (for individuals or smaller groups) and some writing materials.

  • Step 1: During a conversation record the key ideas/information/opinions… on cards or post-its.
  • Step 2: Report the recorded ideas in the whole group, where the reporter places each card on the larger writing surface, deciding on the placement based on the position of the other cards that seem to be related. If needed you can help the participants with the clustering.
  • Step 3: Sort cards into groups until all cards have been used.
  • Step 4: Discuss and record titles/names for each group that describe the essence of the group.
  • Step 5: Reflect on the outcome and move cards and/or rename groups if needed.