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Erin Liman | Innovation is Social | @liman
Using the Power of Personas and Story
to Drive Product Development
What’s the story?
Stories	
  Guide	
  Product	
  
Development
2
Stories Guide Product Development
•Promote understanding - create a shared team vision of the need to
be addressed
•Guide micro decisions routinely made while developing
•Inform MVP - limit development to what’s needed to deliver the key
benefit
Stories are Sticky
The story itself, the true story, is the one that
the audience members create in their minds,
guided and shaped by my text, but then
transformed, elucidated, expanded, edited,
and clarified by their own experience, their
own desires, their own hopes and fears.
—Orson Scott Card
• Visual
• Persistent - even
when creator isn’t
present
• Reflects and
shapes the culture
Compelling stories
are about change
Figure out
the current story
Tell a
new story
3STEPSTO CREATING THE NEW STORY
1
2
3
COLLECT STORIES
GET ACTORS INTO TROUBLE
RE-FRAME,TELL A NEW STORY
1
2
3
COLLECT STORIES
GET ACTORS INTO TROUBLE
RE-FRAME,TELL A NEW STORY
“Up” follows the Hero’s Journey emotional arc
Who
What
When
Where
How
Why
Persona
Objective
Timing
Context
Action
Meaning
Questions to Answer
Story Spine
time
tension
and because of that
so, the moral of
the story is
until finally
until one day
and every day
Memorable stories often have this structure
once upon a time
and every day
and because of that
Story Spine
time
tension and because of that...
Carl is sentenced to a retirement home. To
escape this fate, he releases thousands of
helium balloons and sails away... with Russelll
the explorer scout.
so, the moral of the story is...
until finally..
Carl is forced to release his beloved house,
and Kevin is returned to her 3 chicks, and
Russell and Dug are delivered home. Russell’s
father fails to present him the final badge,;
Carl steps in and gives a grape soda badge
that Ellie had once given him. Carl now acts
as surrogate grandfather to Russell.
until one day...
Ellie dies before they realize their dream,
leaving Carl alone, a tired and sour recluse.
A construction worker breaks Carls mailbox,
and Carl hits him over the head with his
walker.
Memorable stories often have this structure
once upon a time...
Young Carl Fredricksen meets Ellie,
a tomboy who shares passion for
adventure and explorer Charles Muntz.
Make pact to travel to Paradise Falls
someday.
and every day...
Carl and Ellie get married and live a blissful life as
balloon salesman and zookeeper
and because of that...
He has a series of adventures. He faces a series
of tests, ultimately facing the elderly, now-crazy
Charles Muntz, who ultimately falls to his death.and every day...
The dig a little further into their Falls fund
to meet other obligations
time
tension
“rainy” day
wrap-up and thank
reflection“sunny” day
Collect the Real Story - Interview Flow
Ethnographic interviews have this structure
introduction
build rapport
Village9991
Persona = composite portrait of a user or stakeholder
1
2
3
COLLECT STORIES
GET ACTORS INTO TROUBLE
RE-FRAME,TELL A NEW STORY
The Worst
First Day
Experience
Persona’s enable us to step into someone else’s shoes
Parker
homestay4studentsmontreal.blogspot.com
Example:
Rob, a 42- year old
businessman, wants delicious
food in an unfamiliar city
credit:
 LUXr
www-inst.eecs.berkeley.edu 
I am ...
I am trying to ...
But, ...
Because ...
Which makes me feel ...
“Who” with 3+ characteristics
Objective or “job to be done”
Perceived barrier
Root cause
Emotion
Exercise: Problem Statement
I am ...
I am trying to ...
But, ...
Because ...
Which makes me feel ...
“Who” with 3+ characteristics
Objective or “job to be done”
Perceived barrier
Root cause
Emotion
Exercise: Problem Statement
Rob, a 42-year old business traveler, dad, foodie
try interesting food that my kids wouldn’t like
I don’t always know where to park in an unfamiliar city
many interesting eateries are in sketchy areas, away from
regular parking lots
stressed and vulnerable
1
2
3
COLLECT STORIES
GET ACTORS INTO TROUBLE
RE-FRAME,TELL A NEW STORY
Rob
Not a great sketcher? Don’t worry! Drawings support shared understanding across
global teams. Rough sketches also enable happy accidents via misinterpretation.
Story: Re-thinking the MRI for Kids
Transforming Terror into Delight
Max’s Journeyline (“As is”)
Doctor
recommends
MRI Seeing his
parents stressed
makes Max even
more anxious
Max goes to the
hospital. Parents
and doctors can’t
calm him.
Max is sedated
before heading in
to the MRI
machine
Max’s
general
routine
I am ...
I am trying to ...
But, ...
Because ...
Which makes me feel ...
“Who” with 3+ characteristics
Objective or “job to be done”
Perceived barrier
Root cause
Emotion
Problem Statement: Brain Scans are Scary
Max, a energetic first grader with a mass in my head
get my problem fixed so I can go back to school
MRI machines are scary
my parents can’t come and I don’t know what will happen
afraid and alone
Examine Anxiety Points
1
2
3
4
SEPARATION
WILL MY PARENTS LEAVE ME?
PAIN
IS THIS GOING TO HURT?
THE DOCTOR
SPEED AND EFFICIENCY IS OFTEN SEEN AS DISLIKE
THE UNKNOWN
KIDS OFTEN ASSUME THE WORST
Credit: Maria Hock
Max’s Journeyline (“To be”)
Doctor
recommends
MRI
Parents receive
themed kit with
costumes,
rehearses role to
play
Max goes to the
hospital and
enters the theme-
based room with
staff dressed the
part
Max has a multi-
sensory, Disney-
esque “ride”
Max’s
general
routine
Transforming Terror into Delight
“As is”
“To be”
What Makes a Good Story?
(discussion)
Designing the New Future
1. Establish characters and relationships
2. Show the the character’s objective
3. Set the scene (where)
TIPS:
Show how she overcomes the challenge
Show outcome, with main character as the hero NOT the product
Person changes as an outcome of the experience
Image: Kathleen Kapsin
Warm-up: Wordball
dog
friendly
cat
black
sit
Exercise: Phrase at a time story
Once upon a time ...
And every day ...
And every day ...
Until one day ...
And because of that ...
And because of that ...
Until finally ...
The moral of the story is ...
THE END
1. Identify, then assume the perspective of the key persona.
2. Walk through the storyline, one step at a time, from the
triggering event to the resolution.
3. Brainstorm ways to help the persona overcome the challenge,
and what happens to him or her as a result.
4. Add foundation to evoke empathy, and memorable details to
help the listener visualize what they hear. Make the story
sticky by helping listeners relate it to their own experience.
5. Step back and simplify. Simplify even more.
6. Tell the story. Revise. Repeat.
photo credit: seier+seier
Telling a New Story - Steps
1
2
3
COLLECT STORIES
GET ACTORS INTO TROUBLE
RE-FRAME,TELL A NEW STORY

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Telling Persona Stories, March 2014

  • 1. 1 Erin Liman | Innovation is Social | @liman Using the Power of Personas and Story to Drive Product Development What’s the story?
  • 2. Stories  Guide  Product   Development 2 Stories Guide Product Development •Promote understanding - create a shared team vision of the need to be addressed •Guide micro decisions routinely made while developing •Inform MVP - limit development to what’s needed to deliver the key benefit
  • 4. The story itself, the true story, is the one that the audience members create in their minds, guided and shaped by my text, but then transformed, elucidated, expanded, edited, and clarified by their own experience, their own desires, their own hopes and fears. —Orson Scott Card
  • 5. • Visual • Persistent - even when creator isn’t present • Reflects and shapes the culture
  • 7. Figure out the current story Tell a new story
  • 9. 1 2 3 COLLECT STORIES GET ACTORS INTO TROUBLE RE-FRAME,TELL A NEW STORY
  • 10. 1 2 3 COLLECT STORIES GET ACTORS INTO TROUBLE RE-FRAME,TELL A NEW STORY
  • 11. “Up” follows the Hero’s Journey emotional arc
  • 13. Story Spine time tension and because of that so, the moral of the story is until finally until one day and every day Memorable stories often have this structure once upon a time and every day and because of that
  • 14. Story Spine time tension and because of that... Carl is sentenced to a retirement home. To escape this fate, he releases thousands of helium balloons and sails away... with Russelll the explorer scout. so, the moral of the story is... until finally.. Carl is forced to release his beloved house, and Kevin is returned to her 3 chicks, and Russell and Dug are delivered home. Russell’s father fails to present him the final badge,; Carl steps in and gives a grape soda badge that Ellie had once given him. Carl now acts as surrogate grandfather to Russell. until one day... Ellie dies before they realize their dream, leaving Carl alone, a tired and sour recluse. A construction worker breaks Carls mailbox, and Carl hits him over the head with his walker. Memorable stories often have this structure once upon a time... Young Carl Fredricksen meets Ellie, a tomboy who shares passion for adventure and explorer Charles Muntz. Make pact to travel to Paradise Falls someday. and every day... Carl and Ellie get married and live a blissful life as balloon salesman and zookeeper and because of that... He has a series of adventures. He faces a series of tests, ultimately facing the elderly, now-crazy Charles Muntz, who ultimately falls to his death.and every day... The dig a little further into their Falls fund to meet other obligations
  • 15. time tension “rainy” day wrap-up and thank reflection“sunny” day Collect the Real Story - Interview Flow Ethnographic interviews have this structure introduction build rapport
  • 16. Village9991 Persona = composite portrait of a user or stakeholder
  • 17. 1 2 3 COLLECT STORIES GET ACTORS INTO TROUBLE RE-FRAME,TELL A NEW STORY
  • 19. Persona’s enable us to step into someone else’s shoes
  • 21. homestay4studentsmontreal.blogspot.com Example: Rob, a 42- year old businessman, wants delicious food in an unfamiliar city
  • 25. I am ... I am trying to ... But, ... Because ... Which makes me feel ... “Who” with 3+ characteristics Objective or “job to be done” Perceived barrier Root cause Emotion Exercise: Problem Statement
  • 26. I am ... I am trying to ... But, ... Because ... Which makes me feel ... “Who” with 3+ characteristics Objective or “job to be done” Perceived barrier Root cause Emotion Exercise: Problem Statement Rob, a 42-year old business traveler, dad, foodie try interesting food that my kids wouldn’t like I don’t always know where to park in an unfamiliar city many interesting eateries are in sketchy areas, away from regular parking lots stressed and vulnerable
  • 27. 1 2 3 COLLECT STORIES GET ACTORS INTO TROUBLE RE-FRAME,TELL A NEW STORY
  • 28. Rob
  • 29. Not a great sketcher? Don’t worry! Drawings support shared understanding across global teams. Rough sketches also enable happy accidents via misinterpretation.
  • 30. Story: Re-thinking the MRI for Kids
  • 32. Max’s Journeyline (“As is”) Doctor recommends MRI Seeing his parents stressed makes Max even more anxious Max goes to the hospital. Parents and doctors can’t calm him. Max is sedated before heading in to the MRI machine Max’s general routine
  • 33. I am ... I am trying to ... But, ... Because ... Which makes me feel ... “Who” with 3+ characteristics Objective or “job to be done” Perceived barrier Root cause Emotion Problem Statement: Brain Scans are Scary Max, a energetic first grader with a mass in my head get my problem fixed so I can go back to school MRI machines are scary my parents can’t come and I don’t know what will happen afraid and alone
  • 34. Examine Anxiety Points 1 2 3 4 SEPARATION WILL MY PARENTS LEAVE ME? PAIN IS THIS GOING TO HURT? THE DOCTOR SPEED AND EFFICIENCY IS OFTEN SEEN AS DISLIKE THE UNKNOWN KIDS OFTEN ASSUME THE WORST
  • 36. Max’s Journeyline (“To be”) Doctor recommends MRI Parents receive themed kit with costumes, rehearses role to play Max goes to the hospital and enters the theme- based room with staff dressed the part Max has a multi- sensory, Disney- esque “ride” Max’s general routine
  • 37. Transforming Terror into Delight “As is” “To be”
  • 38. What Makes a Good Story? (discussion)
  • 39. Designing the New Future 1. Establish characters and relationships 2. Show the the character’s objective 3. Set the scene (where) TIPS: Show how she overcomes the challenge Show outcome, with main character as the hero NOT the product Person changes as an outcome of the experience Image: Kathleen Kapsin
  • 40.
  • 42. Exercise: Phrase at a time story Once upon a time ... And every day ... And every day ... Until one day ... And because of that ... And because of that ... Until finally ... The moral of the story is ... THE END
  • 43. 1. Identify, then assume the perspective of the key persona. 2. Walk through the storyline, one step at a time, from the triggering event to the resolution. 3. Brainstorm ways to help the persona overcome the challenge, and what happens to him or her as a result. 4. Add foundation to evoke empathy, and memorable details to help the listener visualize what they hear. Make the story sticky by helping listeners relate it to their own experience. 5. Step back and simplify. Simplify even more. 6. Tell the story. Revise. Repeat. photo credit: seier+seier Telling a New Story - Steps
  • 44. 1 2 3 COLLECT STORIES GET ACTORS INTO TROUBLE RE-FRAME,TELL A NEW STORY
  • 45. 44 Thank you! Erin Liman Innovation Accelerator, Storyteller Innovation is Social, LLC twitter: @liman blog: innovationissocial.com linkedin.com/erinliman about.me/erinliman