Step 2: Goals Discussion

In Step 0, I described the importance of gathering and articulating clear, measurable business goals at multiple levels (company, organization, project).  If you skipped that section, STOP.  Go back and read the section on gathering goals.

Your alignment persona project is doomed to fail if you don’t have clearly articulated business goals (for the project, at the very least).

If you didn’t have time or can’t gather goals before the workshop, you should create some slides with spaces ready to accept goals.

Slides & Talking Points


Goals keep us tied to the company and business as a whole

It’s for senior stakeholders and executives to set our goals, and it’s their prerogative to change them once in a while. The trick is for us to know what goals they’ve set, to know when and how they change, and to be able to express elements of our project in terms of their relationship to the goals.

The best way for us to do this is to request and write down goals. Sometimes, it can take a little while to collect goals, because they may have changed slightly since the last time they were discussed or written down. But it’s critical for us to do so.


There are different kinds of goals.

The goals we can’t live without are measurable business goals for this project (the project we are creating personas for).

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If you gathered goals in advance

Create a slide listing the goals you’ve collected. If they are not complete, make sure you indicate this on the slide (e.g., with a big ‘draft’ watermark). If they are complete, put a date on the slide and a ‘source’ at the bottom (e.g., ‘approved by Head H. Honcho, June 3, 2018’)

If there are questions on the goals, or push-back from any participants, you can use the Our Plan for Finalizing Business Goals slide, below.

If you did not gather goals in advance

I argue (and believe) that measurable business goals often don’t exist for most projects in most organizations. This is not something that you should say during your workshop! Instead, focus on the need to get the latest goals written down. You don’t want to put your participants on the defensive.


Assign someone to write the goals somewhere highly visible during the discussion (on a whiteboard or easel paper).

Timebox the discussion

A discussion about goals can go sideways in all kinds of ways. And it’s very easy for participants in these discussions to start deep-diving into details and debates. Don’t let this happen! Timebox the entire goals discussion to no more than 20-30 minutes. Use the “Mad Libs” format to keep everyone focused on the big picture.

Let everyone know in advance that you realize there’s no way to get the goals completely nailed down during this workshop. Instead, you want to get the conversation started, understand any lines in the sand that have already been drawn with respect to goals, and create an action plan for getting completed, blessed-from-on-high goals nailed down and communicated.

Once you have a list of goals and the conversation seems to be more about details than identifying new goals, shift to creating a plan for getting to goal completion ‘offline.’


Have someone take notes in a visible place so that everyone can see that there is a plan to complete the goals and that the completed goals will be communicated to everyone.

After the workshop, integrate the goals and the plan to get to goal completion into your slide deck.

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