Video: Target Audience Data for Personas in ISD/LXD Efforts

I started to get more formal about my ISD methods in the early 1980s when I wanted my staff and subcontractors to follow a standard process, as nothing makes you feel worse than a client asking why “Guy does it differently than Dan – and how will all of this then be fit together into a System of Instruction (ala: Instructional Systems Design)?”

It was my ISD work with AT&T Network Systems Product Managers (1986-1994) that gave me some language to incorporate into my heavily influenced ISD methodology-sets – which had previously been heavily influenced by my prior exposures to and working with engineering and manufacturing functions for pb-ISD – performance-based Instructional Systems Design – purposes.

What I started calling Target Audiences and the data about them back in the 1980s – is nowadays called Personas.

Both concepts are borrowed from the worlds of Marketing (& Sales).

In Sales they were sometimes referred to as “Buyer Types” – such as The Financial Buyer, the Technical Buyer, and the Operator/User Buyer.

And you and the Sales Team would try to figure out for each targeted account who was who and what were their hot button/issues and how would we approach pitching some/all of our Features and Benefits where they gave us an Advantage (over the competition) in our Sales Process.

That effort was somewhat similar to the Quality folks using QFD (Quality Function Deployment) to compare and contrast their Product’s/Service’s quality against the competition to decide where they had an advantage, or where they were at parity, or where they were at a disadvantage to feed any Reengineering the Product/Service needed, and then into the Reengineering of the Process that produced the Product/Service.

And if you think about it – that same QFD info should be fed into the Sales People’s Sales Planning Processes – if you take a Systems View in how you manage and orchestrate all of that. Never an easy thing to do BTW.

Back to ISD/LXD…

You/me/we in ISD/LXD want “to clarify who is in” the Target Audience to focus your Analysis efforts.

And then you want to use “certain data about them” to influence aspects of the Design outputs when you “process” the Analysis data.

At least that’s how I do it – being a STW – a Systems Thinker Wannabe.

A Fairly Short Video

This is video is an overview about all of that – Target Audience Data/ Persona Data.

This video is 4:50 minutes in length.

My Mea Culpa

Part of what this video includes are some screenshots from my 1999 book: lean-ISD.

And in poking around with that book, which I haven’t really read since publishing it in 1999 – because after writing it and then updating it – and updating it even more as I had 3 editors look at it – my staff editor (MaryBeth O’Hara), a subcontractor (Mark Bade) whom I’d had been working with for over 15 years at that point, and a professor at Perdue University in ISD (Jim Russell) – I had gotten damn-sick-and-tired-of-it-all – and didn’t see something that I should have edited out.

I had began that book in 1983 as “The Curriculum Manager’s Handbook” – and only finished it 16 years later with a new title in 1999.

So, yeah, I was damn sick of it by then/ The End.

So a week or so ago (when I wrote this Blog Post) I was kinda surprised to find a reference to “learning styles” in my 1999 book’s content.


It was a literal gut punch. I had a distinct sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when reading that.

It wasn’t me who wrote that – but of course I am still responsible for the book’s content. My name is on the cover.

I don’t know who slipped that one past me in the review/ update/ review/ update/ review/ update/ review/ update/ review/ update/ review/ update/ cycles that a half-dozen or so people did with me —– it was akin to a relay race or gauntlet that many of us in my network ran – as I even had members of my consulting staff review and make comments on it – but as I have been railing against learning styles since learning that it was a false notion since the late 80s or early 90s from people at NSPI (now ISPI) – I know it was not me who wrote those words. It was just somebody trying to be helpful.

Here is my/the mistake… the last bullet…

So – my apologies to those who read this – and believed it. Please go get your copy and fix it for me/you and anyone else who might be persuaded that “designing for Learning Styles” is a valid notion. It is not. My apologies. I will try to do better going forward.

And – most importantly – as Jimmy Buffett sang and taught us all in his song Margaritaville:

“But I know, it’s my own damn fault.”

To put it politely – Learning Styles are BS.


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