Intentional Design Vs ADDIE

This title sounds like an impending trashing of the traditions of ADDIE, but I believe it simply places entrenched methodology in a more current and responsive context. While it seems that many are trashing old school ADDIE, I would argue that ADDIE is alive and well; in fact, is at the core of any effort to design and deliver a training solution. Agile design is catching a great deal of attention at all the conferences I’ve spoken at in 2013 but when you get right down to it, what we find in the iterative attributes of “agile” methods are incremental applications of core ADDIE concepts.

I think our consternation over ADDIE is rooted in the fact that it is merely a methodology targeting knowledge transfer in the context of a training solution. Nothing wrong with that, but demands of a sustainable workforce are characterized by the convergence of (1) the need to learn effectively with (2) the need to perform flawlessly from within the workflow – at the point of work. ADDIE was never scoped nor chartered to do that. If “agile” methods are adopted simply to gain “rapid development” we’re missing the boat. We wind up with agile lipstick on the training pig, and that was never intended to drive sustainable performance outcomes in the downstream, post-training point of work.

Intentional design and development retains characteristics of “agile” methods but the scope includes the downstream, post-training point of work. This expanded scope does not exclude training as a potential solution, nor the application of ADDIE; rather it shifts the focus of the design and development effort to the point of work as a priority as opposed to a post-training concept. This shift is at the core of adopting the embedded performance support [EPS] discipline.

The emphasis is still on rapid development, but the “rapidity” is oriented on closing identified performance gaps first. Training, if remaining as a necessity, can still be pursued. AND…the performance support [PS] assets created via intentional design to support performers within their workflows can still be bundled into a more traditional linear training event.

The “intentional” aspects of this design model are focused on impacting performance at the point of work first. This methodology is foundational in a Learning & Performance paradigm, which, by the way, is inclusive of training…but only if and when training is necessary. Our “agile” objectives should be keen on shrinking time-to-impact, not simply time-to-training.

When we consider training development timelines range from weeks to months to generate and hour of eLearning, the question this new intentional design methodology answers is this “Why place an extended timeline in front of a chance to impact performance in a week or two with intentionally designed Performance Support assets?”

Interactive implementation of incremental, stand-alone Performance Support assets upon which we can interate using technology-based deployment into actual workflows and used by actual performers at the point of work. This approach gives us a chance to fine-tune through real-time feedback from performers that inform us on their assessment of relevance, usability, and accessibility.

Performer Support assets can be created in a fraction of the time we grind out storyboards and endure languishing review cycles that are built into our traditional eLearning development methods. Again, this does not preclude sticking to the longer development timelines, but why wait…or miss…the opportunity to incrementally impact performance?

Adopting the discipline of Embedded Performer Support [EPS] gives us the opportunity to improve “time-to-impact” as opposed to striving for a more performance limiting goal of “time-to-training”.

We can still train but consider this potential outcome...”What if the performance gap that triggered the training request in the first place can be closed with a few well-designed…intentionally-designed…Performer Support assets?” Adopting the EPS discipline does not obsolete existing training design methods, like ADDIE; instead, it wraps them in a more iterative and focused INTENT on driving performance at the point of work.

However, EPS does place new opportunities to upgrade skills regarding discovery that can only be obtained by identifying attributes of the conditions impacting performance at the point of work. A Training Needs Assessment to identify learning objectives does not satisfy this requirement. This enhanced discovery requires a deeper set of discovery skills found in the tool kit of a performance consultant. as such, Performance Consulting has become an essential skill set necessary in the training organization.

As more emphasis is placed on driving performance outcomes through training solutions, we clearly are being pushed into new work context territory that often exceeds the reach and skills of instructional designers. Acquiring these skills becomes an important foundation for whatever role that is assigned the task of discovery. That role could be handled by the Instructional Designer or a Performance Consultant added to the team to drive the new discovery protocol to identify Performance Support Opportunities. This update in capability may be fine-tuning existing skills and practices within the training team or it could point toward a major overhaul of methodology to adopt intentional design and development skills.

My recommendation is to begin with a readiness assessment of your team’s ability to adopt intentional design practices in addition to a formalized workflow application that enables an agile as well as intentional learning and performance solution.

Gary G. Wise
Workforce Performance Advocate, Coach, Speaker 
(317) 437-2555
Web: Living In Learning