SpoolCast: The Power of Ad Hoc Personas: Truly Practical Methods to Get Your Organization on the Same Page with Tamara Adlin

Sean Carmichael

January 26th, 2011

Duration: 33m | 17 MB
Recorded: April, 2010
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Effective communication is the basis for keeping your team organized. But how can you be certain that everyone in your organization is on the same page when it comes to business goals, objectives, and the user experience perspective? Using personas can set you in that direction and Tamara Adlin specializes in just that.

Tamara is the founder of adlin, inc., a customer experience consulting firm. She is an expert in developing personas and has written two books on the subject, The Persona Lifecycle and The Essential Persona Lifecycle. In her Virtual Seminar, The Power of Ad Hoc Personas: Truly Practical Methods to Get Your Organization on the Same Page, she ran short of time to answer all the questions. Today we bring you the follow up podcast with Jared Spool and Tamara answering those remaining questions.

Here’s an excerpt from the podcast.

“…I just don’t think that it works to have personas thrown over the fence. You can certainly go hire somebody to do a bunch of market research and a bunch of behavioral research and come back with shiny documents and big posters and whatever.

But I just don’t think that works. You have people still thinking the words “enterprise” and “small business,” and if you don’t get that stuff out it will never disappear. And the only way to get that stuff out is to have people convince themselves that it’s not so great, it’s not as useful as they thought.

However, if you’re using them to try to mirror back to execs what you think you hear them saying – the trick that I use is, “Well, let’s imagine this person,” like you said, Ahmed, “(he) is a program manager and has to manage this incredibly remote team all over the world and somehow has to have our product to do that. Isn’t it true that if we don’t satisfy him, we failed? I mean, isn’t he right smack-dab in the middle of the people that we’re trying to help?”

And people will say, “Yeah.” So, it’s not a matter of saying, “He’s the most important.” It’s more like saying, “If we don’t satisfy this dude, what are we doing?” Isn’t that true?…”

The real value of using personas comes from the ability to mirror back what you think is being communicated and arrive at that common understanding. This can be difficult. You need to show the issues that need addressing in the first place. As Tamara states in the podcast: “You all can’t be on the same page if there isn’t a page”.

Tune in to the podcast and hear Tamara address these questions as well.

  • Don’t the stakeholders in the meeting need to know the consumers before they can make assumptions about building personas?
  • How do you get the stakeholders in the room? How do you get the boss and the grand-boss and the great-grand-boss to participate?
  • Does this technique make sense in a remote environment? Can you actually create personas remotely?
  • Does the ad hoc persona technique lend itself well for creating a customer experience in services oriented organization?
  • Can personas align with marketing segments, or is it something completely different?
  • How do you sell ad hoc personas into a project where they’ve been down that road and it was a complete failure?

Please feel free to share with us any of your own experiences with personas and any other thoughts or questions in our comments section.

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