Personas in theory and practice

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On 11 June 2021, the online event "New Work - Personas in Theory and Practice" illustrated the usability of personas in innovation and HR processes.

The buzzword "New Work" and directly related to it "Agility" summarize the changes in the working world as a result of digitalization and an increasingly volatile environment. These developments inevitably also affect companies from the mechanical and plant engineering sector. Therefore, on the company side, it is necessary to adapt one's own working conditions in order to be prepared for change and to be able to react innovatively and responsively to these changes in the future.

The term "New Work" covers various methods and attitudes that improve cooperation in companies and teams. Personas" is one such method to better put oneself in the shoes of a target group: For example, users take the perspective of a customer group. The identified persona thereby represents an "archetypical" representative of a target group and is precisely characterized including its interests, goals and needs. Based on this description, the personas method serves as a basis for the target group-oriented design of, for example, products, processes or even business models.

The aim of the "persona" tool is to create empathy for the target group and to develop solution proposals based on this. The personas method serves as a basis for decision-making as well as for argumentation and thus vividly brings together findings about specific users. Andrea Veerkamp-Walz, speaker of the VDMA Business Advisory, went into the basics of the "Personas" method in her keynote speech at the online event on 11 June 2021. According to this, one or more personas can be created for each target group from observations, interviews, workshops or surveys. In the lecture, it became clear that personas are a useful tool in both innovation and personnel management.

Three small groups then developed and created individual personas with the help of the IT tool Mural. It became apparent that the group participants from different age and professional groups developed different attributes and aspects when describing the personas "Millennials". In order to obtain as complex a picture as possible of the persona to be described, many aspects, such as appearance, working methods, preferences, ways of thinking, behaviour, life circumstances, hobbies, etc. should be included. The more different the persons describing a persona are, the more comprehensive the persona description will be and the more precise the target group description will be.

For each fictitious user or target group described with the personas method, different topics are relevant. For example, for one user it might be "work-life balance", while for another it might be permanent feedback or independence, self-employment or digital working.

New Work" event series

The event "New Work: Personas in Theory and Practice" is part of the event series "New Work", which is organized by ProduktionNRW together with the VDMA Business Advisory, the VDMA Competence Center Labor Market and the VDMA regional associations.

Organiser

The event was offered by ProduktionNRW. ProduktionNRW is the competence network of mechanical engineering and production technology in North Rhine-Westphalia and is carried out by the VDMA NRW. ProduktionNRW sees itself as a platform for networking, informing and marketing companies, institutions and networks among themselves and along the value chain. Significant parts of the services provided by ProduktionNRW are funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).