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Venn Diagram: Make Efficient Connections between Things

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1/7/2022
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A Venn diagram provides a clear way to express the relationships between entities, and particularly where two or more things have overlapping attributes. Venn diagrams simply make data visualization easier, which is why they are commonly used in presentations and reports.

If you need to communicate the relationship between two sets of objects, a Venn diagram is a powerful and efficient way to do so.

What Is a Venn Diagram?

At the most fundamental level, a Venn diagram is a pictorial exhibition of all the possible real relations between a collection of varying sets of items. It is made up of several overlapping circles (or sometimes ovals) with each representing a single set or item.

Put more simply, a Venn diagram can be used to show what attributes two sets of objects have, and how they differ. For instance, a simple comparison of the sets of “whales” and “fish” might be drawn like this:

Venn Diagram example with whales and fish | Klaxoon
Here, a first simple approach is to consider both species live in the ocean.

A complex comparison of different creatures uses more circles to represent various attributes:

Venn Diagram, a comparison of different creatures | Klaxoon
In this diagram, more complex characteristics are compared to categorize various species.

What purposes does a Venn diagram serve?

A Venn diagram serves a fairly straightforward purpose. Like many other types of diagram and illustration, the aim of a Venn diagram is to make information visualization clear and efficient. 

Venn diagrams are particularly useful, though, when you need to quickly express how two sets of things relate to each other – the similarities and differences between corporate teams, for instance, or project responsibilities.

When is it crucial to build a Venn diagram for business purposes?

Venn diagrams form part of a set of diagrams and illustrations that are very useful in business,  projects, and the concept of visual management. They can be used alongside maps of processes as flowcharts to quickly communicate how teams, computer systems, or tasks within a larger project overlap.

In addition, Venn diagrams also have a major advantage over more “complex” chart forms. Since many people are familiar with Venn diagrams from their school days, even non-technical audiences are typically able to read Venn diagrams easily.

A Venn diagram is an illustration that uses circles to show the relationship between two or more groups.  Venn diagrams are commonly used in the fields of statistics, probability, mathematics, linguistics, logic, and computer science, and are also invaluable for project management as well.

Brief History of Venn Diagrams 

Venn diagrams were invented way back in 1880, and are named after their inventor, British mathematician and logician John Venn. That year, he published a paper in the Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science with the title “On the Diagrammatic and Mechanical Representation of Propositions and Reasonings”.

However, the roots of Venn’s diagram go much further back than this. Some have claimed that the first use of the diagrams was in the 1200s, by philosopher and logician Ramon Llull of Majorca. German mathematician Leibnitz also used similar diagrams, as did Swiss mathematician and polymath Leonard Euler. Euler’s diagrams continue to be used, in fact, and even John Venn referred to his own diagrams as Eulerian Circles.

Since the 1880s, Venn diagrams have continued to be used and developed in many fields of pure and applied mathematics.

Use Cases For Venn Diagrams

Venn diagrams have a wide range of use cases, across many different fields. Some of these include:

  • In mathematics, Venn diagrams are used to teach basic math concepts such as sets, intersections, and unions. They are also used by research mathematicians to solve complex problems in set theory (and other branches of mathematics). 
  • In statistics and probability, Venn diagrams are used to express the relationships between two or more data sets in an easily understood way.
  • In logic, Venn diagrams can be used to work through the implications of a particular assertion. It can also check the validity of particular arguments and conclusions that stem from that assertion as well. 
  • In linguistics, Venn diagrams are used to show how and where different languages overlap, which can reveal information about when and where they diverged.
  • The same technique is also used for computer languages, both as a teaching aid and in order that programmers can work out the best language to use to approach a particular task.

What Problems do Venn Diagrams Solve?

All this said, the most common use of Venn diagrams is in business. In business contexts, Venn diagrams can be used to compare and contrast products, services, processes or anything that can be depicted in sets. 

Not only can this help you to think through a problem, but the Venn diagram itself is also an effective communication tool to illustrate the comparison you are making.

In business, Venn diagrams are particular useful at solving two sets of problems:

  • First, these diagrams can provide an easy-to-read reference for decision makers to check the validity of their conclusions. In a large project with many moving parts, it can be easy to get lost in the details, and Venn diagrams provide project managers with an easy way to express the relationships between various parts of a project.
  • Secondly, Venn diagrams are very effective in presentations, reports, and for anytime you need to communicate the relationship between two sets quickly and easily. Most people find them much easier to read than SIPOC diagrams, for instance, and so Venn diagrams are particularly useful when talking to non-technical audiences.

Venn Diagrams for Project Management 

Venn diagrams have several uses when it comes to managing or planning projects. As discussed, the primary purpose of a Venn diagram is to show the relationship between two or more sets.

In the case of managing projects, a Venn diagram can therefore be used to compare the different aspects of your project, including:

  • Each project you run will need to stay in compliance with a pre-specified budget, allotted time, and overall scope. A Venn diagram can be used to show the relationship between all three. Each circle in your diagram could increase or decrease with an increase or decrease in the budget or time, for instance. 
  • Taking things a step further, your Venn diagram could be used to break down your project’s budget (such as into material procurement costs, labor costs, or operating costs) while showing the relationship between all three. 
  • Your Venn diagram could also be used to display the relationship between the roles of your project team members. Specifically, you can have different circles representing different tasks that comprise the project, with the names of the team members who are assigned the different tasks under each respective circle(s). Team members working on more than one task would share circles, providing a quick visual representation of which team members will be working directly together. 

Business Applications for Venn Diagrams 

Venn diagrams have many applications in business as well. They can be used any time that the relationships between things can be seen in terms of sets. And, as mathematicians will tell you, that’s essentially everything.

More specifically, Venn diagrams are typically used in a number of key applications in business:

  • To depict the various, overlapping audiences that your brand is targeting, and how they relate to each other. By mapping audiences onto a Venn diagram, you may find that your audiences have more in common that you assumed.
  • Similarly, Venn diagrams can be used to compare products – either comparisons between your own products, or between your products and those of your competitors. Doing this can help you see how effectively you are differentiating your offer.
  • You can also use Venn diagrams to compare the attributes, strategy, and other features of your company to those of your competitors. This can help you gain a commercial edge, or help you to explain a new business strategy to executives and employees alike.

What Are Your Goals with Your Venn Diagram?

In order to start designing your Venn diagram, you need to first define what your goals are in creating it. Some datasets and ideas work very well with Venn diagrams, and others don’t. A good rule of thumb here is that if you are using the phrase “in comparison to” a lot, you probably have a set of data that can work well as a Venn diagram.

Second, and as we’ve noted above, there are two main goals for any Venn diagram. Some are made to act as a quick reference guide for decision makers, and can be quite complex. Others are made to quickly communicate complex ideas to staff who may not be familiar with all of the complexities of your project, role, or proposal.

Because of this, you will need to think carefully about the goals of your diagram before moving on to the next step of your diagram.

Brainstorming Your Venn Diagram 

The next step before you can start using a Venn diagram maker is to brainstorm some ideas for how your diagram will look, and perform the initial data analysis that it will be based on.

With regard to brainstorming, remember that a Venn diagram can be very simple, or very complex. Simple Venn diagrams – those with just two circles, and perhaps three labels – can be effective at making a particular point, but are unlikely to be particularly useful tools in themselves. 

However, it can be complex to build diagrams with more than four or five circles: if you find yourself in this position, it’s probably time to break your diagram into a set of illustrations, or re-think your approach.

Second, you may need to perform some data analysis. In general, Venn diagrams do not contain huge amounts of numeric data. However, if you want to make a diagram that compares the key attributes of two audience groups (for example) you could perform analysis to ascertain whether people in a particular audience live in a particular location.

Creating Your Venn Diagram 

With all of your planning, brainstorming, and data analysis done, it’s time to actually start building your Venn diagram. So long as you have a clear idea of what you want your diagram to look like, and who you want it to communicate to, this is actually the easiest part of producing a Venn diagram.

Then, you can make things even more straightforward by downloading our Venn diagram template

Core Reasons To Use Klaxoon’s Venn Diagram Template: 

  1. Using this template, you can use circles that intersect together to illustrate the relationships between different elements 
  2. The template allows you or your team to easily add titles, labels, and play around with shapes and colors
  3. You can identify and analyze the relationships between the different elements in a visual way, so your team can easily find a solution that suits your team the best 
  4. Your team can use the templates to reflect together on a project and compare the options to settle on a logical solution 
  5. Our Venn Diagram template is suitable for statistics, mathematics, education, and business purposes 

It’s important, at this stage, to feel free and experiment. As long as you’ve planned your diagram and data correctly, your diagram should be relatively easy to read in whatever combination of colors, shapes, and graphics you choose. There is no harm getting creative though, and especially so if you are planning on using your diagram in a presentation or report.

Defining Venn Diagram Terms

Because Venn diagrams are drawn from mathematics, many of the terms that are used in relation to them are mathematical. As such, they can be difficult to understand for those of us who last encountered pure mathematics in high school. 

You don’t need to know these terms to create great Venn diagrams, but they can be useful if you are using software to create your diagrams, or need to discuss them with technical staff. Here are some key definitions to help you out:

Venne Diagram: key definitions to help you out | Klaxoon
A bit of math, with the most common relationship sets that can be represented by a Venn diagram.

FAQs About Venn Diagrams

When Do You Need To Create a Venn Diagram?

There are two main reasons for creating a Venn diagram. One is when you need visual help to think through the logical relationships between sets of objects. A second is when you need to communicate the same kind of relationship quickly, easily, efficiently, and beautifully.

What Should Your Venn Diagram Communicate?

Venn diagrams are incredibly flexible, and can be used to communicate a huge variety of different things. In business, they are commonly used for audience, product, or competitor analysis, but any time you are comparing two (or more) sets of objects, you can use a Venn diagram to quickly produce a

What Are The Primary Benefits of Creating A Venn Diagram For Your Business Project?

The major advantage of Venn diagrams is that they provide a visual way of communicating complex comparisons between datasets. Since many people are familiar with them, they can make your presentations and reports more readable, effective, and persuasive. 

Venn diagrams are a powerful, flexible tool for communicating complex ideas. They can be used to elegantly show the relationships between two sets of objects – where they differ, but also where they overlap. 

This said, not all Venn diagrams are necessarily effective. It’s important to design your diagram carefully, so it can be read easily. That’s why we’ve produced a number of great template for Venn diagrams, as well as a broader set of project management templates, which can act as great starting points for your exploration of visual communication.

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