Curriculum Architecture Design – Not an ADDIE-type ISD Methodology

In my way of thinking…THE goals for ISD – Instructional Systems Design -or- ID – Instructional Design -or- Learning…should be the following 7…

Note that it does not include the learner “knowing” something or anything including “an appreciation of” – which will be hard to link to ROI on the return side. The cost side would be easier. I’ll stick with Performance Impact.

And I like the Bob Mager method to determine “capability to perform” to distill out any “motivational” issues underlying any poor results in Level 3 evaluation data. (Gun to the head…figuratively that is).

As good stewards of corporate assets, you should know your ROI. In total, and by project…both in pre-projections and post-actuals. As part of being a “learning organization” – to continuously improve. Using valid data.

And the “R” could include returns other than $$ – but it’s always nice to calculate RETURNS in $$ (or the appropriate currency) because that is how business people will look at it…because of their fiduciary responsibilities to “the owners of the capital” that originally enabled and/or is currently sustaining the business. Or perhaps funding its growth.

PACT Processes for T&D
Beginning back in 1982 upon leaving Motorola to join Ray Svenson and my wife in Ray’s consulting business – I have attempted “reduce to practice” the prevailing ISD concepts, philosophies, methods, processes, and practices.

My efforts to model the ISD process were driven by the same need that has driven many businesses to first model and then re-engineer their core processes: to improve quality and reduce both cycle time and costs. I had been encouraged and then discouraged by a failed effort at Motorola to create a Geary-Rummler-based-ISD-methodology.

Plus I favored detailed Project Plans and Fixed Fee projects for my external clients at what later became SWI – Svenson and Wallace, Inc. – for these seldom became a “Scope/Price Creep-based Nightmare” for both customer and supplier. CAD and all things ISD became my part of our consulting business. I was the ISD practice leader.

Many T&D organizations have also undertaken efforts to “re-engineer their ISD processes” to make them more common across the organization, and more predictable in both their schedules and costs, and to ensure that the T&D produced is both effective and efficient. Mostly they have reduced time by rapid development means which all to often are sans analysis data and insight.

I often ask today…where do your learning objectives come from?

In about 1989 I coined the term “PACT Processes for T&D” after years of simply referiing to the two distinct ISD methodologies that I was practicing, known elsewhere sometimes as TNA – Training Needs Analysis and ADDIE:

  • CAD: Curriculum Architecture Design
  • MCD: Modular Curriculum Development

The three current ISD processes of the PACT Processes are CAD, MCD, and IAD – Instructional Activity Development. Each operates at three distinct, different levels of ISD.

Each is driven by the PACT Process Analysis methodologies including Performance Modeling and Knowledge/Skill Analysis. This common “front-end” makes it easier for practitioners to learn and master.

The same is true for PACT’s approach to Planning & Management – and that makes it easier for management to plan, make assignments, conduct “effort” monitoring, and troubleshoot as needed. Easier to get back on track if there are tracks to follow.

CAD is both a process: the act of performing the Curriculum Architecture Design and a product: the result of a Curriculum Architecture Design.

The CAD process produces a design for a total training & development curriculum with individual parts of core, shareable, and unique modules of content to be further defined in any follow-on Modular Curriculum Development (MCD) or Instructional Activity Development (IAD) efforts.

A CAD is a high-level systems design that enables prioritization of any curriculum gaps for return on investment (ROI) and economic value added (EVA®). CAD is also a systems-engineered “product line” of T&D for one or more target audiences.

I’ve planned and managed and conducted 74 CAD efforts-to-date…and I have developed capability in dozens of staff members as well as hundreds of client staff.

The following 3 graphics sort my CAD efforts into three grouping…for Management target audiences, for Sales target audiences, and for Engineering and Manufacturing target audiences, including groups working primarily for those internal audiences (IT and Materials). There are other “sorts” of potential interest (Telcomm, Automotive, DoD Contractors) but these are the big ones.

When to do a CAD?
A CAD should be done only for critical target audiences and/or critical enterprise processes. EPPIC calls these targets “push” target audiences.

If the cost of nonconformance is understood to be significant, these targets are to be addressed to either protect and/or improve the enterprise. A CAD should be done before a significant investment is made to develop training for a particular group of performers.

Again, CAD projects should only be done where the “economic value added” and the “return on investment” is worth it to that particular enterprise.

  • A CAD effort helps enterprise leadership Identify all of the potential T&D products needed by the targets (the “could be”).
  • Assess any existing T&D for fit and function and determine the priority development needs from the gaps that might exist (the “should be”).
  • Plan and resource all of the priority needs (the “will be”) for follow-on development (MCD or IAD) efforts.

When I was wrapping up lean-ISD, a writing chore that took me several years, I had between 63 and 67 real-world project applications of the CAD methodology under my belt. So it was based on many lessons learned…from being burned…and having to get back up on that horse to ride again.

In early 1999 I took the final draft to Geary Rummler for a review/approval before printing. After all, much of it was using methods that were derived from his.

He wrote me a nice review AND redesigned the cover to what it is today.

Thanks Geary!

For a free 404-page PDF copy of lean-ISD go to:

To visit Gear Rummler’s business web site go to:

Geary A. Rummler from the Performance Design Lab says,

“If you want to ground your fantasy of a ‘corporate university’ with the reality of a sound ‘engineering’ approach to instructional systems that will provide results, you should learn about the PACT Processes.

If you are the leader of, or a serious participant in, the design and implementation of a large-scale corporate curriculum, then this book is for you.

This system could be the difference between achieving bottom-line results with your training or being just another ‘little red school house.’ ”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.