"Why Personas Fail: Unveiling the Hidden Network Effects"


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 18, 2023

4 min read


"Why Personas Fail: Unveiling the Hidden Network Effects"

Personas are a powerful tool in understanding and designing for your target users. However, they often fail to deliver the desired results. In this article, we will explore the common reasons why personas fail and how to overcome these challenges. Additionally, we will uncover the hidden network effects that can drive long-term success for companies. By connecting these seemingly disparate topics, we will gain valuable insights into creating effective personas and leveraging the power of networks.

One of the main reasons why personas fail is the lack of buy-in from leadership. If personas are not seen as valuable alignment tools, they are less likely to be utilized effectively. To address this, it is important to pitch personas to leadership as a way to create a clear picture of specific user types that everyone can focus on and align around. By analyzing prior failures and addressing corresponding solutions, we can demonstrate the business value of personas and build the necessary buy-in.

Another common pitfall is creating personas in a silo and imposing them on people. The most successful personas are created with involvement from their end users. By involving stakeholders and users throughout the persona creation process, we can ensure that the personas are accurate representations and are more likely to be embraced and utilized by the entire team.

Communication failure is also a key reason why personas may not be effectively used. If people don't know what personas are or why they're useful, they are less likely to incorporate them into their work. To overcome this, it is important to educate colleagues about personas and their benefits. Refer to personas in meetings and discussions, and solidify their place on projects. By showcasing the wins gained from having specific user representations to work with, we can further emphasize the value of personas and encourage their adoption.

Now, let's shift our focus to the hidden network effects that can drive long-term success for companies. While traditional network effects are well-known and understood, there are also network effects that may not appear obvious at first glance. These hidden network effects can provide unique advantages and differentiate companies in the competitive landscape.

One example of a hidden network effect is the concept of a slow network. A slow network refers to the time it takes for the value of the network to become apparent after its creation. In slow networks, the product usage period is usually long or the frequency of product usage is low, which dampens the momentum of network effects. However, the benefit of a slow network is that once it is established, it becomes resilient and difficult to disrupt.

Another type of hidden network effect is an incomplete network. An incomplete network occurs when product characteristics or strategic decisions temporarily render the network incomplete. However, once the network is fully established, the network effects become immediately apparent. For example, OpenTable initially focused on securing contracts with enough restaurants to create a platform where users could easily find and book reservations. The incomplete network was eventually completed, and the network effects became evident.

In contrast, there are inhibitory networks that limit the scale or establishment of network effects. One example is exclusive networks, such as Chief, a network for female executives. These networks have fixed group sessions, which restricts the establishment of network effects. Differentiating between inhibitory networks and limited networks is crucial to understanding their impact on competition.

Lastly, there are networks that attract users with the promise of tools but keep them engaged through the network itself. Delicious and Instagram are classic examples of companies that attract users with their tools (bookmarking service and photo filters, respectively) but keep them engaged through the network of users. By starting with the construction of a community that acts like a network, users interact and create value for each other. When the product is eventually introduced, it either changes the way users engage with the network or amplifies the engagement, leading to network effects.

In conclusion, personas fail when they are not effectively utilized or lack buy-in from leadership. By involving stakeholders and users in the persona creation process, educating colleagues about personas, and showcasing their value through wins, we can overcome these challenges. Additionally, hidden network effects can provide unique advantages for companies. Understanding the different types of networks, such as slow networks, incomplete networks, and inhibitory networks, can help companies leverage the power of networks to drive long-term success.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Involve stakeholders and end users in the persona creation process to ensure accurate and embraced personas.
  • 2. Educate colleagues about the value of personas and refer to them in meetings and discussions to solidify their place in projects.
  • 3. Identify and leverage hidden network effects by understanding the different types of networks and their impact on competition.

By incorporating these actionable advice, we can overcome the challenges of personas and tap into the power of hidden network effects for long-term success.

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