Affinity diagrams are popularly-used tools in the field of project management for categorizing and logically presenting large amounts of data. A free affinity diagram template can be downloaded from Bright Hub’s media gallery. This template will not just help you create affinity diagrams for your project, but will also help you get a better understanding of the information contained in this guide.
An affinity diagram tries to establish some new relationship patterns amongst variables so as to encourage creative solutions to problems and issues. This makes them an effective tool to not just organize but also to communicate these ideas in a manner that is easy to understand for most team members.
Using the Affinity Diagram Template
Affinity diagrams are normally prepared during or after brainstorming sessions. As and when new ideas or solutions are proposed by the team members, these are arranged into related groups. Once all the ideas have been allocated across the groups,
each idea is examined to see whether it has been rightly grouped with the other ideas. After all the ideas have been properly or rather judiciously allocated to the groups, it’s time to assign each group a heading. Once all the information is organized and ready to be presented, it can be filled into the affinity diagram template.
At the top of the template goes the name of the project, and below that are columns meant to discuss ideas, problems and solutions. The first row of each of the columns is meant for the heading. If required, the heading can be described in the subsequent row, in broad terms. All the rows below these top two rows are meant for recording all the related ideas or solutions. When recording ideas and solutions, the idea is not to put in a detailed description; instead a descriptive title is all that is needed. Additionally, the name of the person who proposed the idea can be mentioned along with the idea.
Using the template is fairly simple as long as related pieces of information have been grouped logically. The template available at the above link has space to discuss ideas across five groups/headings, but the user can duplicate the columns to discuss more groups.
Once the affinity diagram is ready, it can be printed and circulated to all the team members.
Advantages of Making Affinity Diagrams
As has been mentioned earlier, affinity diagrams help in organizing and communicating ideas, problems and solutions. In addition to these basic advantages here are some more benefits of this tool.
- Prevents chaos when the team has too many ideas.
- Help in managing issues that are too complex and large.
- Helps a team to achieve consensus over important issues.
- To relate issues and look for common solutions.
- To determine added advantages of a particular idea or solution.
- Helps in logically examining ideas or solutions to problems.
- Can serve as an informational resource for management functions like planning, organizing and issue management.
So, the next time you caught up with organizing and presenting large amounts of data, the affinity diagram template provided with this article may prove really helpful.
Image Credit: Image by Sidharth Thakur.