Persona workshop

As we all know by now, the rest of the world doesn’t do health care as we do here in the US. Our unique approach yields a system so complex there is no possibility anyone could guess his or her way through. I recently had a conversation with a coworker from our Pune office, and he posed the question “How can we uplift our (Indian) counterparts to know the North American users as quickly as possible?”

Of course, personas are the way to go, they contain the insight needed to step into a user’s shoes and build solutions tailored directly to that user. But how do I make personas an active process rather than just handing out some tired old color printouts with the hope that someone might actually read them or even learn from them.

I want to engage these people not bore them to death, but how to do it?

As an amusing aside, while doing my research I discovered some usability coworkers in another office spent tens of thousands of dollars producing elaborate professional videos for each persona, only to have no one actually watch them.

Question? How do I engage my coworkers to actually take away something meaningful from the process?

Answer: The same way I learned; have everyone create personas of their own.

Introducing: The persona workshop.


Goal: Users will develop their own personas from scratch by collaborating with teammates and assistance from SME’s as needed. Each team will then present their persona and other observations at the end of the workshop.

Time: Schedule your meeting for 1.5 Hours. (If you plan to do this as a lunch and learn, serve the food after the workshop)


  • 1 presenter (you)
  • 20-30 people who will be creating personas
  • 2-3 people who will act as subject matter experts (SME’s)


  • Example of a completed persona to use as an example (onscreen as everyone works)
  • A list of 5-7 unique personas as templates, 1 for each group
  • Finding SME’s willing to take on the task, and actively participate in the workshop


  • 20+ min explaining personas and what will happen with the workshop
  • 30 min work time for users to create personas
  • 30 min for the groups to present their creations (5 min each)


  • Explain personas
  • Walk through example explaining what info is important, what is not
  • Divide up and assign blank personas
  • Introduce SME’s and answer any questions
  • Start timer for 30 min and let ’em go! (It gets very loud very fast!)
  • On collusion have each team pick a member and present the following
    • What name did you choose – and why
    • Describe user’s
      • Typical interaction
      • Perfect day
      • Top of mind issues
    • Did you discover anything interesting?
    • Did you discover anything that changes how you might develop or design?
  • Collect personas and add newfound info to your own personas (There will be some insightful stuff in there – trust me)
  • Elicit feedback on improving the persona workshop


Interested in having me do a personas workshop?
Give me a shout on Linedin.

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