January 18, 2017 -

Killer Ops: The Power of Personas

Power of Personas

by Kevin Gepford

What This Is: User personas are composite profiles that represent clusters of users.

Why it Matters: Personas humanize the key themes across our creative work group, while stripping out the distraction of real identities. Personas capture the needs and behaviors of the people in our team, and also help inform your department direction and strategy.

Our journey of applying the methods of Product Management to Creative Operations continues with personas. Every app developer on the planet does this. I’m using personas during my current development project to create a centralized workflow system for the digital marketing group at AT&T.

Personas give relatable faces to the range of my future users, and help me identify and understand what they might be looking for in a better workflow. Likewise, in the analog challenges of management and team building personas can yield insights into what makes things tick… and how it could tick better.

Product Managers Do: Translate their user interviews into a persona of your target users.

Creative Ops Does: Translate our user interviews into personas of key roles in our team, plus key roles outside the team with whom we interact. Our personas are totally going to have “Frustrations” as important data points!

Personas capture the essence of groups of people and based on real-life research. App developers look for common elements such age, gender, behaviors, attitudes, motivations and the user’s environment, how they use of technology or products, or lifestyle choices. What motivates them.

Persona development is serious business for many types of companies — banking, credit cards, insurance, hospitals, museums and non-profits, e-commerce, and across the realm of enterprise-focused applications.

The results are usually expressed in something like a simple one-sheet one-sheet dossier — including photo of the archetypical “persona”, some stats on their age, hobbies, job role, gender, etc. The most important fields are what motivates this person. Why do they come to your site? What are they looking for? What need to they have that is unmet?

We Already Know a Lot

Creative Ops has a head start — our team and key constituents are already organized by roles and activities. We’ll focus on their interests, skills, personality, and the work  environment.

Personas help us understand our team’s pain points, day-to-day responsibilities, the things that matter to them, and even how work moves through and across our organization. They’re the little voice in our ear reminding us what effective Creative Ops looks like to our team — keeping us focused as we design and implement solutions and explain it to our staff, peers, stakeholders and management.

When I was developing a creative management model at Comedy Central, I built personas based on real-life roles, including:

  • Marketing VP
  • Production Assistant
  • Creative Director
  • Project Manager
  • Junior Designer
  • Director of Production
  • Web Designer
  • IT Director/Manager
  • Video Editor

This helped me keep in mind goals you are trying to accomplish and who you will accomplish them for. It kept meaningful things in mind things like, “Upgrading my Digital Asset Management system would be exactly the thing to give John in our press team better access to our photo library”, or “I need to keep my presentation succinct and colorful if I’m ever going to convince the management team to invest in my important project”.

Speaking of management, this can also benefit the layers above us. Let’s suppose you are called on to defend your road map for planned hiring, investment in equipment, or even short-term specialists and consultants. Knowing what you’re trying to accomplish, and how it will help the members of your team, enables you to make wise decisions and communicate your goals to any level within the organization.


You will condense your interviews into a compact and understandable format by building a dossier of personas for your key constituents, staffers, and leaders around you — from the boss down to the production assistant. Tell the story in pictures and words. Keep these personas in your side view. Nearly everything else you do in Creative Ops will be done to benefit these people.


An introduction to personas and how to create them
by Tina Calabria

A Product Manager Persona
by Bruce McCarthy

About the Killer Ops series:

How can creative teams increase their Value Proposition? How can they become better strategic partners in the organization? Following the entrepreneurial model of Product Development, creative teams – and organizations – can learn to think and act like a startup, to develop a framework for continuous innovation, improved operations, and greater success.

Published by: Kevin Gepford in Creative Ops, Part of a Series