This exercise helps the team arrange and make sense of their brainstorming session—or large amounts of data from a particular topic—by organizing items into groups. You will need a lot of post-it notes and large blank wall space! More here.

Why use this exercise?

  • Prioritizes project concepts by seeing what elements of the topic illicit a natural affinity from the group
  • Allows team to make sense of many disparate concepts quickly
  • Helps to identify patterns within a subject matter
  • Creates a shared understanding between team members by giving them a chance to see how each other view the project topic
  • All team members can participate and have fun building a visually compelling source of information.
  • Did we mention post-it notes? They are perfect because this is a fluid exercise that involves a lot of peeling and moving of words. Plus, they’re budget friendly!
  • If you happen to be a team with remote members this can also be achieved by using tools such as RealTimeBoard, LucidChart, or MemoSort.

Our approach

  1. Brief your participants with the project details and objectives.
  2. Have the participants take 5 minutes without talking, and write down as many words or ideas they can think of on separate post-it notes. They can immediately start sticking them on the wall in no particular order.
  3. Pencils down once the 5 minutes are up.
  4. As a group, take a look at the words or ideas displayed.
  5. Start discussing and grouping the ones that are similar. See what higher level categories start forming.
  6. Do one more brain dump round of words after the categories have been formed. Allow for everyone to discuss and move ideas around to the categories they think their ideas best fit.
  7. Encourage people to move post-its that they feel aren’t in the right place, but also ask them to explain their reasoning after they have moved it.
  8. Take note of the categories and the specific words or ideas that have been placed under each group type.
  9. You have now identified top priority topics of importance for your product. For more information, check out Designorate’s Using the Affinity Diagram.