Recently I've heard some discussion highlighting that persona development is a waste of time - basically, it's dead.
It is only dead if you don't know that persona development is really about going deeper.
What do I mean?
I want you to imagine an Orange.
The initial persona project is the whole fruit. It's the general description that many view as the goal of the exercise. And, if you stop at the general description phase, then yes, there is little use for the persona activity. However, the trick is to go deeper.
If the persona project is an Orange, you've got to start peeling to get to the benefit. The more you peel, the deeper you will dig into what is really important to your target persona and why they might care about what you have to offer.
Next, and most importantly, you must remove the entire peel and get to the slice itself.
The slice is the emotional driving force. It is how you discover where on the Hierarchy of Business Needs your persona falls.
Your goal is to get clarity.
Are they afraid of losing their job?
Is the thought of change unnerving?
Are they exhibiting a desire to advance?
Do they seem to need recognition,
or perhaps they have a burning desire to make a change that will impact their budget or personnel?
Once you understand the emotional drivers directing their decision-making process, you can paint a picture of their success from their perspective. Using the persona exercise to get to their personal and emotional motivation (the slice) is the true benefit of this exercise and why you don't want to ignore it.
So the next time someone tells you that persona development is dead, offer them an orange.