Affinity Technique in Project Inceptions

A power technique that can bring stakeholders closer to the idea of thinking the solution through. It raises amazing questions to trigger conversations.

It was an interesting exchange, when I took the session on Affinity technique to build a sample business case with one of my training groups. Organizations traverse through their Agile journey with different maturity levels at the business & IT side of the Agile adoption. It adds a lot of angst and frustration when the business starts an initiative and realize the real traction is not there due to different understanding or perception of the Agile processes.

Affinity technique is a visual enabler technique that is used to extend the basic affinity mapping to the benefit of Agile processes. The best use of affinity diagram can be seen in breaking down the barriers of language and use a visualization method of categorizing requirements about different features and creating a way to showcase a group that where their requirements are grouped together.

What could start as a group activity can be an ice breaker exercise and trigger the candid discussions over the features and requirements about a project. One never realize how insightful these mini conversations can be as they allow following to happen in a candid and non serious discussion:

  • Exchanging other peoples’ idea about a feature
  • Discovering how important a feature is for a different group of people
  • Seeing the overall project in a different perspective
  • May indulge in prioritizing features among the set of users

Once done it can be broken down to a simple view of what could be a daunting product backlog defining activity and then used as a baseline to refine and drill down further. Thus, simplifying a massively intense exercise of Product Backlog preparation for a group that may be new to Agile and may find the breakdown of requirements as a tricky and confusing endeavor into a fun filled group activity.

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