Objective: Explore the relationships between organizations or interests.

Specifically, it: focusses attention on the areas of overlap between interests; allows common interest areas to be identified; facilitates discussion about relationships between organizations and areas of interest.

Venn diagrams can be drawn quite quickly, for example in 15-20 minutes. The total time depends on experience and the complexity of the situation being analysed and could last several hours.

  1. To explore common interest areas
  2. Explore degrees of interaction between organizations
  3. To facilitate discussion on relationships

The planning team can use the tool as an input to reviewing institutional areas of interest and interaction.

Planning team

Stakeholders involved in planning teams

A Venn diagram is used in mathematics to identify numbers with common attributes. For example, odd numbers can be grouped together and also even numbers.

For planning and management, it is used to identify common interests by drawing circles around areas of interest for each organization.


  1. The tool allows overlapping interests to be examined which is very important for integrated planning approaches
  2. The tool is relatively simple
  3. It is useful to help discuss relationships
  4. It is a useful tool when trying to find areas of common interest as the basis of building support for a strategy


  1. Although apparently simple, it is not easy to do well
  2. Although simple, it may take some time for people not familiar to grasp the idea

Tool 12 (Linkage analysis) can be used to assess whether overlaps are positive and should be encouraged, or negative (conflicting) and need to be minimised.

Generally accessible documents:

World Bank (n.d.) Tool name : institutional mapping/Venn diagramming, Washington, World Bank.