The Five Personas Origin Story
Here’s the origin story for the Five Personas™. The short version.
A client invited us to train a team of thirty facilitators. They were preparing for a national rollout of six new leadership development courses.
The facilitators gathered in mid-January to prep for the first module. We started on a Monday. By Friday, they needed to be ready to go live. We would repeat this train-the-trainer cycle every 8 weeks as each new module was launched.
At about module #3, it got interesting. We were five months into it. The facilitators had accumulated hundreds of flight hours and they’d grown way beyond the basics.
On a Wednesday in late May, Alessandra stepped up to practice an inspiring piece of a module. Her content was right on target. But, the delivery was a little flat. For her do-over practice, we asked her to name her favourite superhero. Excitedly and without hesitation, she said ‘Wonder Woman’. So, we told her to do it the way Wonder Woman would.
Up next, Alessandra channeled her inner Wonder Woman to facilitate the piece. It was like night and day, the difference in her voice and how she gestured throughout. The Superhero persona came naturally to her. We knew Alessandra had conviction, possibility and strength. Wonder Woman was how we helped her find it.
On Thursday morning, Mark took a turn. He was setting up the main activity instructions in his practice round. He lost his way and it was a mess. All he saw were confused, blank stares in the audience. For Mark’s do-over practice, we asked him about coaching his daughter’s little league soccer team. He started picturing pylons, soccer balls, and running drills with fifteen high-energy nine-year-olds.
Up next, Mark got the activity on track and never looked back. His instructions were crisp and clear. The room responded with focused attention and jumped into action. He had found his inner Drill Sergeant.
It wasn’t long before the Sensei, Confidant, and Jester personas were defined. With the full complement of personas described and researched, the attitudes and actions for each persona were validated. Through repeated testing with clients, the Five Personas™ have became a cornerstone of how we train facilitators.
In its early days, the assessment was paper-based. The online version was launched in October 2018.