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Community persona for project management

Toby Elwin Blog, Community Persona, Marketing, Portfolio Planning, Social Project Management 0 Comments

community persona, project management, Toby Elwin

OK, they got the tie memo.
Wait, what happened about the green memo – !!!

A project is an intentional effort to deliver a product or service that creates opportunity – intended or otherwise.  Projects have multiple stakeholders for, or against, the project.

No project ever has a single stakeholder, but multiple stakeholders, with multiple goals that require multiple, engagement campaigns to meet relevant project management, stakeholder, community motivations.

Projects exist to either:

  1. Create something new or
  2. Improve something that exists

Project change management relies on an ability to articulate project improvement for stakeholder groups.  If resources are spent to fund a project, then the time to understand the end-user community persona objective is a project investment.

A project does not exist to keep a team billable, but to deliver a business case with a goal in mind.  The business case revolves around increased revenue or increased efficiency and the project commits organization resources to see this happens.

Project success, in either revenue or margins, ultimately relies, on adoption and an inclusive project campaign that understands end-user:

  • Purpose,
  • Problem, and
  • Value

Awareness of promised improvement does not a compelling case for change make.  This blog continues the Community Persona series around the value of interaction design and goal-oriented design principles for other elements of design, such as, in this case, project management.

Change Signal to Noise

Both the business case and project charter identify organization opportunity, but opportunity from another’s perspective is simply noise.  Noise is a problem that an end-user community has little time for.  Getting something done may conflict with getting something accomplished in a new or a different way.

Throughout the project life cycle effort to manage stakeholder motivation first requires understanding, positive or negative, motivation for the project.  Noise limits end-user motivation for something new, as it competes against something expected:  like getting their day job done.

People do not reject change, people reject the volume of change expected against the level of effort to maintain the goals of their job and the current environment.  A persona strategy borrowed from technology, design, and software fields, and adopted for project management creates a larger, project marketing effort for end-user motivation.

What is a persona:

A buyer persona profile is a short biography of the typical customer, not just a job description but a person description …

The buyer persona profile gives you a chance to truly empathize with target buyers, to step out of your role as someone who wants to promote a product and see, through your buyers’ eyes, the circumstances that drive their decision process.

The buyer persona profile includes information on the typical buyer’s background, daily activities, and current solutions for their problems. The more experience you have in your market, the more obvious the personas become.  Adele Revella [emphasis added] interviewed in The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott

Note the reference to buyer persona and my use of the term community persona.  I coined community persona to meet internal stakeholder need in organization strategy and development design as well as the effective application within non-profit work where a buyer is less a financial transaction and more a trust transaction.  The community persona is not about buying or selling, but about commitment, understanding, and ownership.

A persona is a behavioral model. The most effective behavioral models are distilled from interview and observation data of real users into an archetypal description of how a particular type of person behaves and what their goals are.

The two essential components of a persona are the persona’s behaviors and goals. For any product or service, design teams have to create multiple personas that represent the range of likely behaviors and goals.   Kim Goodwin

Think about traditional project stakeholder holder assessments intentionally expanded into motivations and goals.  Specific personas are used for specific marketing efforts that shows an understanding of their need.

Goal-Oriented Design

goal, project management, person, community, motivation

A goal for one is not a goal for all.

Typical project steps include initial scope design, organization impact assessment, stakeholder identification, communications planning, risk, and a second iteration of scope, delving into user community goals serves project and stakeholders more accurately.

We call our methodology “Goal-Directed” because it focuses on accomplishing goals. It’s important to note that these are not only the persona’s goals but also the business’s goals. If design teams only focus on the persona’s goals to the exclusion of making profits, the product won’t be successful.  Kim Goodwin

Goal-Directed, or Goal-Oriented Design is user-centered.  Projects should launch with articulation of how to meet the need or desire of the user or customer.  A company goal is not exclusive from a persona goal as one persona goal is not exclusive to another.

Varied goals articulate varied need or varied approach.  A stakeholder review may tell us what is needed, a community persona drills deeper to meet why it is needed and how the project delivers.

A project example:  the community personas [note:  plural] around a new enterprise process to identify unique needs of the process requester persona, the process coordination persona, and the process customer persona.  Enough unique within each persona for unique persona goals across the process interaction.

Products designed and built to achieve business goals alone will eventually fail; personal goals of users need to be addressed. When the user’s personal goals are met by the design, business goals are far more effectively achieved.  About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, and David Cronin

To understand a project’s impact, start with questions around persona qualities that meet the community persona’s goal.  Here are questions Cooper advocates designers consider:

Goal-oriented questions:

  • Goals — What makes a good day? A bad day?
  • Opportunity — What activities currently waste your time?
  • Priorities — What is most important to you?
  • Information — What helps you make decisions?

System-oriented questions:

  • Function — What are the most common things you do with the product?
  • Frequency — What parts of the product do you use most?
  • Preference — What are your favorite aspects of the product? What drives you crazy?
  • Failure — How do you work around problems?
  • Expertise — What shortcuts do you employ?

Business product, workflow-oriented questions:

  • Process — What did you do when you first came in today? And after that?
  • Occurrence and recurrence — How often do you do this? What things do you do weekly or monthly, but not every day?
  • Exception — What constitutes a typical day? What would be an unusual event?

User motivations, attitude-oriented questions:

  • Aspiration — What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
  • Avoidance — What would you prefer not to do? What do you procrastinate on?
  • Motivation — What do you enjoy most about your job (or lifestyle)? What do you always tackle first? Focus on goals first, tasks second

Questions above change the project stakeholder assessment.

Questions above change focus from what will get done to why is will get done.

Goals Not Features

Social media upends marketing and public relations with customer engagement and motivation identification.  Organizations once relied on marketing and sales to identify users and trends, then segment customers by size, the larger the market size, the larger profits. Where market segmentation looks at quantity, persona definition looks at quality, the motivation quality that connects communities.

Using a marketing campaign lens over project management allows a project’s community persona to expand beyond traditional project stakeholder discussions to goal-oriented design.

The communication that saturates our world survives as a message when it gets through our primary filters of sanity:  the What’s In It For Me? (WIIFM?) filter.

To manage and cope we build filters to process and place things into patterns we recognize.  To help us cope, when new items hit us we try to find a something it relates to get a bearing on the impact:

  • Have we seen this before?
  • Have we seen something similar?
  • Is this close enough that I can just leap to a conclusion without too much mental processing?

We rely on WIIFM? filters to process the incredible deluge of daily information.  The biggest deception to our brilliance is that your WIIFM? matches your target’s WIIFM?.  Disavow yourself of this as soon as possible and you begin your journey to end-user adoption and product/project/change utility.

A project can not meet a community persona model without that community persona end-user empathy target.  The community persona target has different motivations than the project.  However with community personas in mind at the start, What’s In It For You? (WIIFY?) and the project or the email or the communication or the SharePoint portal is now crafted to meet What’s in it For Them (WIIFT)?

Old-world marketers learn market segments identify the potential target through by potential market quantity to determine the segment size that provides the business case and return on investment for effort involved.

Marketing 2.0, realizes the quantitative, or potential, size does not answer the qualitative motivation or need.

Potential as a number does not answer motivation to get something done or problems that a person needs to solve.  Project management can look less towards managing stakeholder need and more towards understanding stakeholder need.

With a community persona approach the project ROI changes from return on investment to return on involvement as people realize their needs are important and the more understood the more commitment.

A project moves from buy-in to end-user adoption and ultimately utility for business ROI.

Community Persona Design for Organizations

  1. Buyer persona for organization strategy and development
  2. Community persona for organization development
  3. 4 design tools to meet persona context
  4. Community persona resource and influence timeline
  5. Communication with goal-oriented design and community persona strategy
  6. Community persona for SharePoint intranet design
  7. Community persona reaction for functional design
  8. Community persona for change management
  9. Community persona for project management
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