All Together Now – The Group Processes in ISD and PI

For Me the Group Process Creates Big Gains For Little Pains

It is not painless, forming and using groups to leverage what they each know consciously.

But it is almost always worth it – if done for the right terminal goals, and done using the right means, to those ends.

For the results can be very forceful.

The Group Process is about sharing what groups individually know, off the tops of their heads, and doing that in a structured, predictable  but loose-enough Facilitated Process.

And if done right, it insures that that sharing process, stimulates not only what they each know consciously, but also what they each know non-consciously.


A great Group Process works so that the “buried stuff” may come “back to mind” as the group first frames their work, and then builds in the detail, in some organized, somewhat predictable, manner. That’s why you go slow to go fast. More on that later.

BTW – I’ve never had a client that didn’t want to know that I and my team were using a predictable process to a definable, desired, end state.

So I use the Group Process in executing a Plan, as I find it more predictable, in terms of quality, quantity, schedule and cost.

And being predictable didn’t most always not mean being exact, six sigma-like.

Just close. Close enough. Which is a situational variable each and every time.

Hopefully your overall work processes are robust to that set of situational variables too. And address adequately the situational need you face to be just somewhat, or very, predictable.

I’ve written about Group Processes many times, initially in Training Magazine in September 1984, as well as in NSPI’s Performance & Improvement Journal, two months later. Here those first two are – from the Resources section of this site.

CAD – Training Mag – 1984 – 6 page PDF – the first publication about Curriculum Architecture Design via a Group Process – published in Training Magazine in September 1984. Original manuscript (30 pages) – How to Build a Training Structure That Won’t Keep Burning Down.

CAD Article Training Magazine 1984 med

Models and Matrices- NSPI PIJ -1984 – 5 page PDF – the first publication of the performance and enabler analysis methods for ISD, from NSPI’s (ISPI’s) Performance & Instruction Journal, November 1984.


Then in 1999 I wrote about my first experiences in Group Process, from a project at work in 1979 – also in the Resource area of this site:

Teaming for T&D GWW 1999 – 5 page PDF – on my story of inadvertently creating a team – out of frustration with too many revision cycles for a video script I was writing –  for training development back in 1979 – and liking the approach for using a Group Process to shorten cycle times and improve the quality of the output.

Group Processes Sometimes Go From Messy to Clean

My manner is real messy on the front end, quickly build an understanding of the charge to the group, frame the response  and then fill in the details. layer the effort so that it makes sense from a systems point of view, which IMO requires a top-down architectural approach, versus a bottoms-up, incremental design approach.

You need to do that too, but second, not first, IMO.

The Group Process is: bringing together the right people, to do the right things, at the right time. It’s obviously not as simple as that, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many issues (problems, creating opportunities to solve them).

The GP is applicable to your ISD – Instructional Systems Design methods, just as it can be appropriate to the design efforts for other stuff, as an example, by those designing a new aircraft wing by the design and development engineers, including those from the fields of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, and industrial engineering.

It can be used in ADDIE or the engineers’ NPD – New Product Development process – their applciation of what we sometimes refer to as ADDIE – which BTW has worked for me as a Project Planning Tool, and I never confused it with an Instructional Design tool, other than as a project planning guide/framework, mile stones, for that predictability thing.

Group Processes Require Great Processes

I’ve used the Group Process over 250 times since 1979. I’ve found the Group Process can be used for:

  • Planning
  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Development
  • Pilot Test

Those general steps in producing outputs, hopefully worthy outputs, can be applied to sales, instruction, and to me are cleaner than other models like DMAIC or ADDIE.


I don’t find any planning steps in DMAIC, or much predictability, just like with ADDIE. I have seen it though in most of NPD models that I’ve seen over the past 30 years.

But maybe that’s just me.

Here’s my version of ADDIE, preceded by a systems engineering step.

Slide1 (3)

Here is my version of Quality/Performance Improvement, preceded by a systems engineering step.

EPPI Stage 1 and 2

Note that Planning & Kick-Off – as in Formal versus Informal – is always my first step.

But after Planning of course, it’s all about the Execution. The Planned Execution.

And just as I used a Group Process in the Planning approval process, I use a Group Process in executing most of those other “blue boxes” in the 2 graphics above.

Group Processes Require Great Skills Sets in the Facilitators

I’ve gone into a fair amount of detail about Group Process facilitation in various books, and in this 14-part Blog Post Series:

The 12 Rules/Guidelines for PACT facilitators that I covered in this Blog series – was “sourced from” my writings from back in 1998 in my book “lean-ISD” – in Appendices C. And that was sourced from my field experiences in having conducted hundreds of Group Process analysis and design meetings. That book is available as a free PDF – here, or as a for fee Paperback – plus other books – here.

The 12 Rules/Guidelines for PACT Facilitators are – and the links to the prior 12 Blog Postings are:

1. Go Slow to Go Fast.

2. Be Declarative.

3. Write Stuff and Post It.

4. Be Redundant by Design.

5. Use the Four Key Communications Behavior Types.

6. Review and Preview.

7. Write It Down and Then Discuss It.

8. Use Humor.

9. Control the Process and the Participants.

10. Be Legible on the Flip Chart.

11. Beware of Group-Think.

12. Assign Parking Lot Valets.

Hopefully you can make some use of this.

Here in the photo below I am in a Design effort, from this past January, using the group process for Design. The Group is on break. Facilitators don’t get many. We have things to do without them, and sometimes that’s why we even gave them a particular break at a particular time.

For “fluid exchange” as the good doctor, the late Geary Rummler used to say.



Adopt What You Can – And Adapt The Rest

And may the Force be with you.

Focus on Performance – and Enable That.

That’s the Force.



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One comment on “All Together Now – The Group Processes in ISD and PI

  1. Pingback: Your SME Doesn’t Know What They Are Talking About | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

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