I wrote two books about traditional, data-driven personas, and I haven’t followed my own advice since. That’s because I now focus on personas as a solution to a higher-level problem than data communication, and I’ve invented a new Alignment Persona process to solve it.

Tamara brought so much energy and new thinking to our product team. We built personas together, and they’ve become a rallying point for our company, adding a ton of focus to our product decisions.

– Jason Karas, CEO, Trover (acquired by Expedia)

I’m a personas expert.

I’ve been working with, writing about, speaking on, and innovating around personas since I read Alan Cooper’s Inmates book in 1999. There’s no question about personas that I can’t help you answer. I know why so many persona efforts fail, and why personas are still an irreplacable tool for UX practitioners.

I do personas differently.

Every UX practitioner is familiar with our need to ‘swim upstream’ in the product design and development cycle. I’ve swum all the way up to the headwaters: the executive team. After years of trying to figure out what executives want teams to build, I realized that helping executives get to clarity was the most powerful UX work I could ever do.

I invented Alignment Personas, and the Alignment Personas process, to help stakeholders get all their assumptions about users out on the table–because I believe the only assumptions that can hurt your projects are the ones you don’t know about.

The Alignment Persona process forces (and helps) teams have hard conversations and make difficult decisions much earlier. The Alignment Personas themselves become hypotheses that can be used to drive and target data collection, and the data either validates or invalidates the Alignment Personas.

Alignment Personas are fast and highly effective. Once they are created, I show teams how to use the Alignment Personas in their everyday work, and how to depend on them to maintain critical agreement, clarity, and shared focus from the top down and the bottom up.

Every persona call I have starts the same way.

I’ll ask you what problem you are trying to solve, and why you think personas can help you solve it. If you are like 90% of the people I talk to, we will quickly hone in on organizational issues that are negatively impacting your teams, your products, and, therefore, your users and customers.

We won’t talk about how a huge data-gathering effort will solve your problems, because it won’t. We will talk about how building a shared vision of who your users are, what they want and need, and how their goals align with your business goals can fix almost any problem you’re facing.

I can do Alignment Personas with you, and/or I can teach you how.

Once you know the process, you can continue running Alignment Persona efforts in your own organization, for each project.

Interested in creating Alignment Personas? Contact me