Affinity Map

Discover how affinity mapping can one-up your brainstorming sessions! This visual tool organizes ideas, insights, and observations into meaningful patterns, enabling your team to extract valuable insights, prioritize ideas, and guide innovative solutions. Follow our guide to create an effective affinity map and download our free worksheet to get started today.

Unleash Creativity and Collaboration: Harness the Power of Affinity Mapping


Discover the power of Affinity Mapping as a visual tool to organize and identify patterns in brainstorming sessions. Foster collaboration, prioritize ideas, and guide innovation with our free worksheet PDF download!

What is an Affinity Map?

An affinity map is a visual tool used to organize and categorize ideas, insights, and observations generated during ideation or brainstorming sessions. It helps to make sense of a large amount of information and identify patterns or themes within the data.

To create an affinity map, participants typically write their ideas or observations on sticky notes or cards. These individual notes are then grouped and organized based on similarities or relationships. The process involves participants collaboratively sorting and clustering the notes into categories or clusters that emerge naturally from the content.

The affinity map allows teams to gain a collective understanding of the data and identify common themes, challenges, or opportunities. It helps to uncover patterns and connections that might not have been initially apparent. By visually representing the information, the map enables teams to see the big picture and facilitates further analysis and decision-making.

Affinity mapping encourages collaboration, stimulates discussion, and promotes a shared understanding among team members. It serves as a valuable tool in corporate innovation processes, enabling teams to extract insights, prioritize ideas, and guide the development of innovative solutions based on the identified patterns or themes.

How to create an Affinity Map?

Step 1: Brainstorm

Begin by using yellow sticky notes to generate a diverse range of ideas that are related to the challenge at hand. Each idea should be written on a separate sticky note to allow for easy organization and manipulation.

Step 2: Choose a starter and cluster

Assign one person to select a sticky note they are particularly passionate about. Encourage others to look for sticky notes that support or relate to that chosen topic. Place these related sticky notes close together on the board or workspace. As the process continues, participants should be actively encouraged to move additional sticky notes to the chosen topic, forming clusters of related ideas. If a clear cluster emerges, the facilitator can add a red category sticky note above it to provide a visual grouping.

Step 3: Categorize and name themes

As the affinity map takes shape, identify overarching categories that capture the essence of each cluster of related ideas. Use green sticky notes to represent these higher-level themes. Move the category sticky notes to a new location on the board and place the corresponding clusters underneath each theme. This step provides the highest level of organization for the ideas, making it easier to see the broader patterns and connections among the concepts.

What’s next?

To get started, download our free worksheet pdf!

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Adam Paulisick

Founder at (fmr @BCG @Nielsen — acquired 3x). Prof @teppercmu, MHCI & exec ed at Gates School of Comp Sci. Founder @TheShopPgh

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