Affinity Map

Skill theme: 
Debrief & Analysis
Debrief & Analysis

In all cases after Data Capture and Well-Managed Data, begin the process of moving from observation to insights as quickly as possible. Managing the data will help build a few connections; but it is not a process designed to begin surfacing new meaning. This is especially important after Exploratory Research, and will work as a component activity in Sensemaking Workshop.

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The challenge

Raw data never comes arranged in the best format for you and your team to work with. Recordings, spreadsheets, documents, notebooks, transcripts are all more or less fixed in their format. Insights—and the combinations of observation that provoke them—are not organized per participant. To generate new ideas and interpretations, you need a way to find the beginning of patterns that lie across the data, to flow from the known to the new.

The approach

Sparks of insight in the design and research process light up when we spatially and mentally align contrasting ideas, move them around, play with them. Movement, juxtaposition, and moments of consideration can ignite a new understanding for what the data may mean. A designer’s favorite tool, the sticky note, is a format that allows for rapid manipulation of ideas in physical space.

Therefore, work with sticky notes to create tangible "bites" of observations that can be manipulated and grouped, moved about freely in view of the entire team. Use the Affinity mapping method (or KJ technique) to make initial sense of data with and surface new patterns, connections, and questions.

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These patterns can form the base pillars of meaning to any structured modeling effort: Service Blueprint, Journey Map, Personas, Jobs to be Done, and more. This activity also provides a rich ground for Conceptual Model to explain insights.

Last updated:
Apr 28, 2020 19:40


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