Affinity Diagrams: Employee Common Spaces (Team 5)

Vicky Zhou
Feb 19 · 3 min read

Creating affinity diagrams and scoping out employee common spaces.

What is an affinity diagram?

An affinity diagram is a tool to help designers capture research-based insights, observations, concerns, or requirements on individual sticky notes, so that each design implication can be fully considered on its own, and each note can be manipulated and moved to make fluid and flexible connections and/or groupings. This kind of method enables teams to organize information in a system that allows open collaboration, flexible connections, and restructuring of perceptions.

Process:

As the third part of this four part project, my team and I gathered and organized our compiled research thus far from parts one and two. The way we went about this affinity diagram is as follows:

  1. Yellow post it notes: Each key findings from secondary research and primary research.
  2. Blue post it notes: coherent set of thoughts that represent a theme or direction.
  3. Pink post it notes: collect the blue labels and place them under one collective thought.
  4. Green post it notes: summarize the pink post it notes, and usually denote a bigger piece of the user story.

Yellow post-its

Initial green post-its

Blue post-its, and Pink post-its

Green post-its

Final Affinity diagram

Our four over-arching themes:

  1. Food is central to the employee community
  2. Communication among employees are prioritized for customer service, not in employee common spaces
  3. Understaffing creates emotional and physical stressors to the employees
  4. Different senses of identity within the employee community

What we learned:

  • Grouping our yellow post helped to clarify a lot of concerns we had, and we ended up breaking up and reforming groupings quite frequently.
  • At first we had a lot of post its under one category, but recategorizing revealed a lot of key points we overlooked. For example, employees not wanting to talk to each other on break because so busy vs some employees not wanting to have relationships with each other are different
  • We found blue post its that can be used not just in one initial green post it, but multiple. For example, their interest in food, untidy break room, expired food, understaffed, busy and tired can be unified under one common statement.
  • These kinds of connections that gathered several different data points enabled us to see the intertwined connectivity between things we would not normally piece together.

CMU Design Research Methods // Spring 2019

Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00-4:20 PM MM A11 // This half-semester course is about research in design, and mostly about research through design — how to use the methods and skills you’re learning as a designer, to investigate questions in the world, generate and evaluate ideas.

Vicky Zhou

Written by

CMU Design Research Methods // Spring 2019

Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00-4:20 PM MM A11 // This half-semester course is about research in design, and mostly about research through design — how to use the methods and skills you’re learning as a designer, to investigate questions in the world, generate and evaluate ideas.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade