Using Personas to Manage Change

With every project we undertake, some sort of change will be required in the organization. For example, it could be a small change, such as a new field to use, or another option in the range of options. However, many of our projects introduce larger changes, from new software or processes, mostly like both new software and new processes.

Change management is essential

We have learned that we can’t just tell our end users that things are changing and leave it at that. If we want the results from our projects, we need to get people to change how they do their job. Change management can help people change how they do their jobs and increase the likelihood of user adoption.


Using personas to Mange change: You are the change

One such model for change management is ADKAR from Prosci. The ADKAR model helps guide both individual and organizational change. ADKAR is an acronym that represents the five outcomes people need to achieve for a change to stick:

  1. Awareness of the need for change
  2. Desire to support the change
  3. Knowledge of how to change
  4. Ability to demonstrate skills and behaviors
  5. Reinforcement to make the change stick.

Want to learn more? Check out the Proci ADKAR framework here, (https://www.prosci.com/)

One thing I have learned when working through change management is that different roles need different types and frequency of communication. What matters to each group is different. And this is where personas can play a role.

Creating personas

As a Product Manager, my personas tend to be on the more simple side. There are a lot of different types of personas out there, from super detailed that I usually see created by marketing folks, to more simple ones that I find help me understand my various user roles better. Here is what I like to include as a minimum in my personas:

  1. Name & Role – Give your user in the persona a made-up name, which helps people remember the persona better. Include the role this user plays.
  2. Profile – Some information about the user, who they are, what sort of skills they have.
  3. Goals – What goals does the user have in the process of software? This helps understand their motivations.
  4. Pains – What pains will the software or revised process help the user avoid?

Using personas creatively

Now that I have this basic information, I use it in many different ways during the development process. Similarly, I use it for the change management aspect as well. Using the information I have for my personas, I can now think through and tweak the various aspects of my change management plan.

The goals for an executive will be a lot different than the goals for the end user. As such, I need to tweak the communication planned appropriately. The language should be different. For example, the way the communication is shared should be specific to the audience (i.e., email versus a meeting versus Slack communication). Additionally, the frequency of the message may also need to be different.

Personas can help me understand my end users better and gives me a good head start on making these adjustments. In the end, I have a better change management plan. A better change management plan increases the overall change of project success.

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