How to use design thinking to collaboratively build personas with your team

Learn how to choose the key people who will participate in the process and learn about 4 steps of design thinking to be used in creating personas

Have you ever seen those walls full of post-its pasted on a photo or company? They are part of a technique called design thinking, used by innovative businesses to facilitate project development.

Despite not having created the methodology, the founders of the American consultancy IDEO, Tim Brown and David Kelley were mainly responsible for making it popular in the business world.

Centered on collaboration, design thinking’s main purpose is to put people at the center of project development. The idea is for participants to be immersed, solving complex problems in a creative, innovative and focused way on market needs.

Author and subject matter expert Charles Burnette defines design thinking as:

A critical and creative thinking process that allows you to organize information and ideas, make decisions, improve situations and acquire knowledge.

As it is a collaborative methodology, we invariably need to work in groups. This allows us to look at the problem from different points of view and, consequently, generate a greater amount of ideas that can solve the proposed problem. There is no longer a single owner of the truth.

In design thinking, the ideal is groups of 5 to 7 people, but more important than the quantity is knowing how to choose the group. Choose key people who can contribute information and experience to the project.

Tim Brown, from IDEO, defends professional profiles in T, in which the vertical vertex is the specialty in his area of ​​knowledge and the horizontal is the ability to relate to other areas.

There, for example, it is common for sociologists, architects, designers, doctors and clients to participate together in the process.

Working with a heterogeneous team allows us to have different points of view to understand the problem in greater depth. Based on all this information, the watchword is empathy.

Choosing the key people who will participate in creating the persona

Based on the concept of T profiles, choose from within your team all those who can add knowledge.

On the vertical vertex, choose functions that deal directly with your customers, after all, they are on the battlefront and can bring important suggestions from their daily work to the project.

From this, make a combination of the specialty in the function (vertical) with the behavioral characteristics and prioritize people with ease to collaborate and with good relationships between different areas, the horizontal vertex.

Interesting profiles for this step can be social media, designer, customer service and support, receptionist, marketing analyst.

If you have any data analysts or BI who indirectly collect customer data, include them as well. If possible, invite someone from top management, such as a director or CEO, but remember: the goal is to collaborate and there can be no opinion owner by the hierarchy in the corporate organization chart.

The 4 Steps of Design Thinking to Use in Building Personas

1. Immersion

This is the moment of chaos, the moment to dive headlong into the problem to be solved.

In immersion, we need to seek as much information as possible, research, look at data, seek new perspectives, share knowledge.

To start, call the chosen group and present the project idea and the objective, which is the creation of personas.

Important: If you’re not quite familiar with the concept of persona, please read the article before proceeding with Target Audience, Ideal Customer, and Buyer Persona: What’s the Difference?

After the presentation, ask the group to over the next few days observe their clients and note their physical characteristics, age, gender, behaviors, profession, education, what they say, do, think and feel.

Whenever possible, go deeper: call some clients and make a conversation, do secondary data research (desk research) and netnography.

2. Analysis

At this point, all data collected in the immersion phase will be organized.

To analyze and synthesize all the information collected, join your working group and ask them to put the collected information on insight cards (post-its).

Put just one piece of information per card and stick them all on the wall for all to see.

From there, start looking for patterns in post-its and grouping them. The group either by repetition or by type of information.

For example, bring together all cards that contain professions. When the same profession appears twice or more, bring them even closer together. At the end we will have visual clusters that will allow you to see which profession appeared the most.

3. Ideation

On top of the groupings of characteristics, such as age, profession, gender and education, define the ones that appear the most and start building your persona.

On the empathy map, take the cards that represent each of the spaces on the map: what he thinks or feels, what he hears, what he sees, what he says and does, goals and pain.

Each empathy map will be a persona.

4. Prototyping

It’s time to name the oxen, literally.

Based on the empathy map it’s time to close our personas. Define a name, a position, an age, his education and write paragraphs with behavioral characteristics such as: What he does; Problems you face; What activities does he carry out; What kind of information does it consume and in what media; How our company/product/service can help you.

After this prototyping, we need to validate them. Search our customer base that has a profile similar to the personas drawn. Assess whether your personas are making sense and that they represent extreme user profiles of our product or service.

If the validation is negative, we can repeat the prototyping process. If it’s partially negative, we can eliminate inconsistent personas and use consistent ones.

Once this whole process is done, we can use our personas in different ways to generate insights in future projects.

Even when using Design Thinking to develop other projects, products or services, including the personas validated in the analysis stage.

Certainly having the personas well designed will help (a lot) in generating true insights.