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This video illustrates a series of affinity mapping exercises held at Shepley Bulfinch, an architecture and design firm in Boston, Massachusetts.  The second segment of the video (00:24) illustrates a firm-wide activity designed to engage the members of the organization in a collective organizing activity.  The goal of the activity was to further define the roles of team members in the organization.

For this exercise 64 individuals were asked to provide responses to the following question: What kinds of tasks, skills, and responsibilities do you have in your day to day work? Participants wrote their responses on Post It notes and then worked as a group for 55 minutes to organize the set of 504 responses into categories of similar responses. In order to complete this monumental task, participants had to engage in the cooperative exercise of organizing the Post Its.

The final organization of the Post Its is the physical representation of the collective intelligence of the group. The affinity map is an emergent product of the coordination, collaboration, and cooperation of the actors. It is also a taxonomy of the specific value-adding activities necessary to complete the building design process. Together, the group of actors created a shared definition of their work by engaging in an exercise that facilitated their collective thinking.

Music Credit
I Love London
Crystal Fighters
Star of Love
2012 Zirkulo


About the Author
Allan Donnelly is a designer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Allan received an MS in Engineering and Management from MIT and a BA in Architecture from UC Berkeley. Allan is interested in the intersection between design thinking and systems thinking.

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