Affinity map


Affinity mapping is a fancy name for grouping together sets of similar ideas/themes, for example ideas captured on post-it notes from a brainstorming exercise.

It’s like someone has decided to give something that you will probably do as a matter of common sense a fancy name.

Also known as

  • Affinity diagram.
  • Affinity chart.
  • K-J Method.
  • Thematic analysis.

The tool

Ideally, affinity mapping should be done as a group exercise, rather than one person imposing their idea of what the groups are on everyone else, so the groupings are reached through common consensus.

Why use it

When to use it

How to use it


  1. Each participant is given an equal number of sticky dots (3 and 10, [KS – why just 3 & 10?] depending on the number of themes) and asked to distribute these between sets of ideas. How they distribute the dots is up to them.
    • If they think an idea is particularly important, they may wish to put all their dots on one theme. Alternatively, they may wish to spread the dots around, distributing them across a range of themes.
  2. Participants may mark sets of ideas as follows:
    • X for the set they consider third most important
    • XX for second most important
    • XXX for most important.


At the end, total up the number of dots or Xs each theme has. The themes with the most markers are the ones that will be prioritised, going forwards.

Sense check with the participants to make sure there is agreement/consensus as to what the three most important priorities are.



Similar to

Use in conjunction with

Complemented by


Additional information