All Addled About ADDIE Again – Will That Circle Be Unbroken?

The ADDIE Doesn’t Work “Straw Man”

The cycles are shortening. ADDIE is again under attack. Yes, your approach to ADDIE may need attacking, er, re-engineering, some continuous improvement – or more discontinuous improvement.

But the latest arguments about ADDIE again start with a familiar foil – the Straw Man – ready for your bayoneting pleasure. That is the purpose of the Straw Man, no? To bayonet it. To knock it down. To take out one’s wrath….

Or to set up a “sale.”

Most people in the ISD space do a poor job at Analysis – they do it VERY poorly – so let’s throw it out entirely – is the suggestion I’ve concluded  looking at the latest attack.

Here is my response to the ADDIE Attack of 2000-2002: here – Designing for the ISD Life-Cycle.

This is my version of what was published – here – in ISPI’s PIJ in 2002 – note: I wrote the article and had my 3 partners at the time review it and then we put their names on it (not to take away the writing prowess of at least one of them).

So what is proposed as THE replacement?

Design and Development sans Analysis of course.

This is not the model that is being lobbed into the discussion…just my knee-jerk reaction to what I read recently – although some would say the knee had nothing to do with it… :)

If we take the word/label “Analysis” out – of course that will solve our problems (not).

Just as changing our name from Training to Learning in the mid 1990s did not solve our root problems – producing content that didn’t transfer and measurably change on-the-job performance significantly enough.

Sometimes nothing much happened due to bad Analysis of the root issue – it often wasn’t a knowledge/skills deficit.

And sometimes it was bad Design – “what’s that?” many ask as they power-up their PowerPoint to “get on with it”.

Or bad Development resulted on the say-so of an SME – who – as research clearly indicates – only consciously knows and can readily tell you about 30% of what some novice will need to know – in order to Perform.

But for me – it’s all of that – to be avoided/mitigated – by Design/by Plan.

Planning – up-front – is too often non-existent as everyone hurries to get this one done.

Cause the client is impatient!!!

“Just do it” – is the popular refrain – liberated from the Nike commercials. Blink – too.

For 40+ Years Many Organizations Have Been Process Re-Engineering

They use things from the days of TQM – Total Quality Management – which were often partially implemented – meaning: Partial Quality Management. They too had to change their name. The popular Six Sigma came from that need.

Lean. Six Sigma. Theory of Constraints (ToC).

You need to know about these as well as the principles and practices of good ISD or ID. For you need to review your approach, your ADDIE-like process – and look inside those boxes – to see if you are producing good stuff that feeds the next box adequately.

And you need to start at the end and swim upstream in your swim-lane Process Map – invented by the late Geary A. Rummler – for as early owners of VISIO might have seen – his firm (Rummler-Brache) was credited and received royalties for their Swim Lane Process Map tool. I have Rummler Swim Lane Process Maps from the late 1970s and early 1980s – from when I was at MTEC – Motorola’s Training & Education Center (1981/2) and had lots of opportunities to work with Dr. Rummler.

BTW – Rummler’s “process-centric” thinking/methods was also at the center of Six Sigma. See this article by my co-worker (at MTEC) Alan Ramias – here.

Do the “as is” map first – warts and all as they say. It is what it is.

Or do a Performance Model – as is my Practice. Whatever.

The Performance Model that I use today – and have used for decades – is a derivative of a derivative of a model used by the late Geary Rummler. I learned to use this “framework” for capturing performance data – the ideal and the not-so-ideal – way back in the day – in 1979.

Here is an example of it from a 1986 effort.

My Experience is Different – Way Different

While my “ADDIE-like” model of the phases of activities (and outputs) is a bit different from ADDIE – it’s all about the “Outputs” within the Phases – and then about the “Tasks” leading to the production of those outputs that is key.

As people in the Lean-Six Sigma (and Process Engineering and Business Process Management) arenas already know.

The late Geary A. Rummler, PhD said it:

Put a good performer in a bad system – and the system wins every time.

My ADDIE-like Approach – MCD – Modular Curriculum Development

And I don’t believe that “the solution” is let’s be more iterative.

Which to me means: don’t expect us to get it right – or close enough to right – the first or second time. We need more freedom.

And therefore we cannot be held accountable to things like budgets or schedules.

Tell THAT to your management. Or to your clients.

Yeah – they are going to really like that.

Avoiding Analysis Paralysis

My approach to an ADDIE-like process/approach – doesn’t start with the A in ADDIE – it starts with Planning leading to a Kick-Off. But it doesn’t start with Planning – it starts with activities and outputs that lead to the development of a Plan. A Draft Plan for review in a structure review meeting/process that we call the Project Steering Team Gate Review Meeting – the PST GRM for short.

But in the Analysis Phase – we plan to – focus on a Performance Model – as the heart of analysis – that help all of us, the ISD’ers and the Master Performers and SMEs and the clients and other stakeholders – what the ideal Performance looks like and what the current gaps are – and the probable causes for those gaps.

Here is something I came across in the digital files last week while looking for something else. This effort was a rather “famous” project effort in other business circles (not in ISD/ID).

And another page – in case you missed the prior post on this.

I learned a long time ago – thankfully – to plan to start with a clear view of ideal and current performance – and start off right by Planning to get that clear – with yourself/myself and with the clients and other stakeholders. And enable that ideal Performance.

Resources Available

If you don’t mind reading an occasional reference to Overhead Projectors – you can download a free 410-page PDF of my 1999 book: “leanISD” – here.

And for those looking for a more Social approach to ISD – the PACT Processes – which is what is covered in “lean-ISD” does that too.

While the “C” in PACT – could have stood for “Collaborate” – I wanted it – that collaboration – to be more specific:

Customer/Stakeholder Driven. I wanted to collaborate with those folks – Socially where they who lived with the consequences of the business decision inherent in any ISD/ID effort – had final say – after I had a platform to voice my data and my recommendations.

But – as I say – THEY live with the consequences of the decisions. I wanted to collaborate with them in a “Command & Control & Collaborative” Process.  I dis-like it (and always had) when I was left to make decisions I should not have been making – did not have the background to make – so I engineered a remedy to that – in the PACT Processes – those “lean-ISD” methods.

It’s also available as a Paperback book – to save your printer cartridges – here.

If you want the latest – then – in 2011 I updated lean-ISD and a couple of other books, plus I integrated some published columns and articles and Blog Posts’ content into my PACT 6 Pack:

For more about these books – available as Paperbacks and as Kindles, please go – here.

But Wait! There’s More – More Free Stuff

I bundle of all my PACT Processes – lean-ISD – stuff under the banner: “The School of PACT” – and I have both “for free” and “for a fee” resources for your development – self-development and assisted development.

There are over 50 free videos covering aspects of the methods of PACT. Please go – here.

And there are 12 audio podcasts – here.

Wait Some More!

And there are Workshops and Coaching Sessions – on all of this.


OK. So – I don’t think ridding ourselves of ADDIE is the solution.

If your ADDIE approach isn’t cutting it – re-engineer it.

And if you really need to hide that bad old word “Analysis” with something else – perhaps the hand can be quicker than the eye – and you can fool your clients into believing that you are not doing that wasteful step – or – you can make it the valuable step it is indeed. By doing continuous improvement – or discontinuous improvement – for as I like to say:

As Always – It Depends.


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2 comments on “All Addled About ADDIE Again – Will That Circle Be Unbroken?

  1. Hey, Guy!

    I left this comment on another recent post indicating that ADDIE was the problem (modified slightly for the paste below).

    “I’m not sure the lack of success in the field where solutions are concerned is an indictment of the ADDIE model.

    Put a new model in place and throw the same wrong (or wrongly prepared) folks in the ring with it. If you have expectations that the same people with the same experiences will produce different results by switching out (putting another dress on) the model, you’ll be in for a surprise.

    The problem isn’t the model. It’s literal thinking and lack of understanding of what *design* is and what systems thinking is supposed to accomplish. The categoric activities represented by this simplified model apply to every single design and engineering discipline in existence today.

    If you design without applying some kind of analysis, you aren’t designing. If you develop without designing around problems and frames of context, need and constraint, you are wasting your time. If you don’t implement well, all before is for nothing. And without evaluation, you can’t know that your efforts were worth it — if you’re not interested in how well your solution worked, you’re just going through the motions.

    The ADDIE test is a simple and effective filter – you can use this to identify whether your folks actually understand design or just want to follow a program. View ADDIE as a linear process? The cold hard truth is you’re in the wrong business.

    Our problem is (1) personnel selection and (2) passdown skills. We don’t have a sufficient master or journeyman corps to build a sufficient master or journeyman corps. Catch 22. A fancy new model might help a few folks learn to break out of the linear / literal mindset and into the lateral mindset temporarily. But this won’t solve our biggest problem. We need to choose and grow people in this discipline INTENSELY if we’re going to change anything. Dressing ADDIE in new duds won’t get it.”


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