A few weeks back a new friend recommended that I check out Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey. It is an amazing manual for screenwriters on how to use Joseph Campbell’s work on Mythology to create stories that resonate deeply with audiences. I’ve always loved watching the Power of Myth series where Bill Moyers talks with Campbell about life, love, growth and change. It’s great stuff. I found an audio rip online that I listen to in the train…a lot. But this is a new angle for me.

I finally started reading the book this weekend (thanks for the prod, Lee!) and something clicked today. A colleague went to the IIT Design Research conference this past week and came back telling us all that, apparently, “User Needs are Dead” and that no one wants to see “another picture of a Midwestern Housewife in her kitchen” ever again.

So I get that.

Here’s why: A great Hero is not one dimensional. Great Heroes are complex, rich and often flawed. They have conflict. They are unique.

Personas can get so flat, so boring…when you see that one page sheet, the distillation of some segmentation, it is hard to feel anything at all about them.

I’m about to go into the field to understand what’s wrong with Dishwasher racks.

It’s my job to bring back Dishwashing Heroes that we can actually care about!Heroes whose problems matter! And then make sure that our solutions meet those challenges. Gretchen Andersen’s talk at IxDA 08 (sadly the video is gone!) talks about having an “oh crap moment” that makes us wake up and realize that there’s conflict, a real problem. For Vogler and Campbell it is the Call to Adventure. So I think having a rich, relatable Hero with a true call to adventure is worth having. Telling that story will actually be interesting, and can’t be reduced to one powerpoint slide.