How Would Learning Systems Technology Change the Instructional Approach for a CAD Done in 1986?


In this posting I’d like to examine a large, complex Curriculum Architecture Design (CAD) project from the mid-1980s to determine how I’d deploy the T&D Events on the Path today – with all of the newer deployment and collaborative technologies available, versus how they were designed to be deployed back in the day…1986.

I was involved in this overall client effort from 1986 until 1994, first designing the CAD, a Curriculum Architecture Design of 120 modular-T&D Events for Product Managers, ranging from 15 minutes self-paced readings to an 8-day workshop. I also help my client in the detailed analysis, design and development efforts for many of the priority gaps of the CAD. Of the 120 T&D Events on the T&D Path, 60 were initially gaps…or…Unstructured OJT as we called them – the default of having made zero investments in this in the past – now known as: Informal Learning.

Back then we developed many, many “self-paced readings” to deliberately move “tons” of content out of “group-paced sessions” which was a problematic mode for this busy Target Audience to schedule and maintain. They needed flexibility. Management wanted improved performance.

The Target Audience members were always fighting fires. They needed references for their complex job when they needed them, to deal with two aspects simultaneously: where they were in product the life cycle AND which Function or Functional groups they were working with in order to get that group into sync with the Product Plan’s details – as they were – or as they had recently changed.

More Background
My Customer was AT&T Network Systems. They had used to be known as Western Electric. Later they were Lucent and today they are AlcatelLucent. They were the manufacturing arm of AT&T known as Western Electric, and developed many Bell Labs technologies into products for the evolving world of telecommunications.

The Target Audience was Product Managers of various “levels” in the individual contributor and management hierarchy. There were over 1100 Product Managers in 4 Business Units (BUs)overseeing over 500,000 products (SKUs); the 4 later became 5 Business Units as one split.

The performance scope of the CAD – Curriculum Architecture Design effort was their entire job, their performance was the cradle to grave product life cycle planning and management responsibilities, involved working with and leading a complex, ever-changing cross functional team, of many deaptments/groups within each of the major functions across the company: Bell Labs, manufacturing engineering, production, purchasing, materials, distribution, contracting, legal, sales, service, finance, etc.

The Product Management organizations in each of the 5 BUs were spending hundreds of millions of dollars bringing brand new technologies and products to market and overseeing product upgrades in the “introduction, growth and maturity” phases of product life cycle management; and then they managed their “products families” through the “decline” and eventual “discontinuance” phases.


The Analysis Data Feeding the Structured CAD Design Meeting
We had a 20+ page set of Performance Models that were configured into 8 Areas of Performance, where one AoP integrated all of the other 7 AoPs. That is mostly where any Product Manager lived, in that integration intersection. We also had K/S Matrices with over 1200 discreet K/S Items. And we assessed over 100 courses in the AT&T Course Catalogue.

The CAD Itself
The CAD T&D Path was more of a menu than a path…although there is a logic to the order and numbering of the Events. The 120 Events were organized into 3 “series.”

The first segment of the path, the 1000 Series was intended for new to the job employees. This is where we used many self paced deployment means…short booklets, video, and a 56 page “year-in-the-life-of-three-product-managers” NOVEL …

1987 The PM Novel Draft 3_Page_01

…to help all new PMs become oriented to all of the differences a new Product Manager might see within their own Business Unit, or even at the Product Family level of their product portfolio management scheme, and explain the rationale for them.

1987 ATT NS New Course A Challenge to Participants

This was intended to fully prepare them for attendance in the keystone course (most CAD projects have these) where it is obvious that after this Event we are beyond “the basics.”

All of the gaps in this level … 1000 …of the CAD were built/bought within the first year, post-CAD, in a series of MCD (ADDIE-like) ISD efforts that bundled many Events into single projects, to ease the burden on the Project Steering Team (the Training Advisory Board) – where we had active support of all Business Units via the participation of high level Product Managers from each of the 5 Business Units, who met to set priorities for gaps and content maintenance, and attend all project “gate review meetings” for governance purposes.

The 1000 series wrapped up with an intense 8-day workshop where the new Product Managers worked in pairs to run (as Product Managers) or to attend (as members of the other 4 other functional teams) we used to simulate planning and managing a product in an “integrated product system” through 5 groupings of the typical phases of the life cycle…Concept (Business Proposal) and Justification (Business Case)…Ramp Up and Introduction…Growth and Maturity…Decline & Discontinuance.


The 2000 Series was intended for the incumbent employees. But most had been living in an Informal Learning situation with one general course available regarding Product Management…which was later absorbed into that Keystone T&D Event for our Target Audiences…the Existing T&D Assessments had suggested that we could use that one offering AM – After Modification. Many of the gaps for this level of the CAD were built/bought.

The 3000 Series was intended for advanced, senior employees. None of the “gaps” for this level were ever built/bought. Most of these folks were too busy to attend training sessions.

1000 Series

This portion of the CAD contained 58 of the 120 Events. When we created the design we knew we had a Keystone Course we needed to prepare everyone to attend regardless of their background and incoming K/Ss, which we knew were quite varied. Our response was to create a flexible front end to enable a lot of skipping content that might not be relevant to everyone due to the varied nature of individual job assignments.

While one may have worked all 8 AoPs in their job and been personally responsible for hundreds or thousands of products, another PM in the same Product Family might be on a Product Management Teams for bigger, more complex/costly products and been involved in doing a portion of one AoP only. Such as being responsible for product documentation for the service force. The variance across our 8 functions of PM … was the challenge to be met – to make it all relevant. Some people were assigned subs of subs of one AoP.


The 1000 Series began with…

  • A video explaining the entire curriculum. And then a series of self-paced, paper-based orientations to AT&T, and another for Network Systems, and then a series of similar orientations to each of the major Divisions of the company, where they’d find their own Business Units. These today would be e-learning, with a lot of “color and motion” due to the nature of the content and size of the audience.



  • Self-paced, paper-based and video augmented orientations to the Product Management Model (covering the 8 AoPs) itself. These today would be e-learning, with a lot of interactivity due to the nature of the content and need for the Target Audience to understand the model.
  • Next, the 56 page PM Novel, a self-paced booklet. Today this would be a PDF.

1987 The PM Novel Draft 3_Page_02

  • Then a self-paced, paper-based set of do-it-yourself orientation to your Business Unit and then Your Product family and then to your job, all being very dynamic so we structured a booklet for PMs to use to conduct Interviews with their bosses and peers. These were separate booklets. Today they’d be PDF’s that one would print out to assist in the structured interview. Or these could be Blogs, or Wikis. But then the learner/Performer wouldn’t have to work very hard to pin down this “up-to-the-date-orientation” and therefore it might not stick as it should.
  • Then a self-paced, paper-based booklet and video augmented “let’s now develop your training plan” because now that they understood their organization from top-down, and had defined their specific job responsibilities with the help of their manager and peers AFTER becoming knowledgeable about the Product Management Model and all of the real world variances in “one-PM-job-to-the-next” so that they could probe for specifics to include and not include. The video would be e-learning with color and motion, and perhaps a bit of interactivity, and the paper planning tool we used would of course be accomplished using the Enterprise LMS.


Next the 1000 Series continued…

  • A series of 46 self-paced, paper-based booklets with the word “interface” in the title of most, was used to conduct orientations on all of the major organizations, functions and departments that a PM would likely interface with during their Product Planning and Management tasks, and orientations on all of the Product Families (including Services and Service Families). Today they’d be PDF’s that one would print out to assist in the structured interview. Or these too could be Blogs, or Wikis.

Finally…the Keystone Course

“Product Management Process Training – Basic” an 8-day course hated by management and loved by the attendees. For it was drill-and-practice in some very job relevant tasks- managing a cross-functional team effort for product planning and management systematically, from an initial concept, to the grave yard of products – that in many cases still needed to be supported, contractually, for another 20 years. I would keep this group-paced, facilitator-led, as it was.

Note: I had delivered this Event for this client 31 times between 1987 and 1994, including 5 times in The Netherlands. It is the only training that I have delivered, other than Pilot-Test sessions, for any of my clients. My ISD work is focused in the analysis and design areas, although I do get involved in some development.

After I stopped doing the delivery, another internal group took it over and cut the time down to 5 days and then to 3. With the lack of the repetitive drill-and-practice at conducting meetings and then developing plans and the financials and then presenting that 4 times…AND participating in 4 other “roles” for 4 “other products” the insights and predictability as to where everyone on the team “is coming from” at this stage of the life cycle, was lost.

For more on this project see the Summer 2004 Pursuing Performance Newsletter at in the Resource Tab.

1988-9 NS1251 Poem by Participant


There would be no change to this CAD regarding what is now and what should be self-paced and group-paced deployment.

All self-paced readings and video tapes would be converted to e-learning of both interactive and non-interactive types.

Many computer tools and standard templates for plans, reports, and presentations could also be made available using the 8 AoP Product Management Model as the “workflow” framework to tie them to.

Social Media and tools would certainly be used by these PMs … and regardless of what the L&D organization thought.

The original CAD was done in 1986 and then updated in 1989 and in 1991. Using the Performance Model as the Change Management focus, before diving into the enabling K/Ss, found that the Performance Model (outputs and tasks) did not change but slightly, while most of the change occurred in the tools used and in the configuration and names of the organizational entities that seemed to be in constant churn at the time.

This group became Lucent in the mid-1990s and then became AlcatelLucent more recently.

The intro video:

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