L&D: ISD Practitioners Need a Communications Design/Development Process Also

Sometimes the Need Isn’t for Skills Building

Perhaps the client’s need is to simply create an Awareness.

Or maybe deeper Knowledge on one or more topics.

But not Skills.

And so your standard ISD methods might be what I call “overkill in the extreme” if used in the standard manner.

Perhaps you follow some version of what is generally known as ADDIE.


Here is my version of ADDIE – covered in my 1999 book: lean-ISD.


There’s also SAM, and as the military put it decades and decades ago, SAT (Systematic Approach to Training). All intended to build learning experiences that create or improve awareness, knowledge as they lead to skills.


But if many of your requests for services aren’t for changing performance comp levels – but are merely to communicate – then you need something else.

Performance Competence development is more difficult than Communications IMO.



Perhaps many of the requests you deal with are for Communicating an idea, whether topic or goal-oriented, such as safety, or quarterly sales goal achievement to date, etc.

Training or L&D is often approached for assistance for this lesser effort simply because they own a channel to the target audiences already.

So clients think: let’s just use That. Them. You.

L&D organizations are the tail, not the dog, so to speak. So they mostly comply. And that can be good.

And then some of their customers get used to a smaller hammer being used to hit their typical communications challenge, and suffer sticker shock when a more rigorous front end is required to create and or improve an individuals or teams or organizations performance Competence. And build Perf capability. Versus knowing something. Big diff, as we used to say. And that can be bad.

I’ve been dealing with this for decades. I even wrote this article in 1998 to help my client deal with this as they internally struggled with adapting and then adopting my ISD methodologies.

MCD-lite PP – 2002 – 10 page PDF – of when and how to shorten the “standard process” for my version of ADDIE (MCD – Modular Curriculum Development) – when the client isn’t attempting training for skills – but communications for awareness. Written to convince a client to not force every effort to go through the same rigorous approach when the desired outcome wasn’t skills-building. I was unsuccessful in convincing them. Originally written in 1997.

Leaders, who weren’t using the methods, tools and techniques, decided to adhere strictly to the process, regardless of what I pointed out was overkill in the extreme. So I wrote my article for them, and others.

I could still use my ISD method’s lesson map format for generating AND reviewing the design. I could brainstorm the target audience, and message, using any number of comm models. And then map it.

PACT MCD Lesson Map
Here is an example LM with APPOs:


I could skinny down my std ISD approach involving the Perf comp captured in my Performance Models and then the Enabling k/S from the analysis phase including the exhaustive search (or lesser) of the current inventory of static content and resources for dynamic content to see what met the needs proven by those two linked sets of data.

PM-KS used in design

Avoid ISD Overkill in the Extreme. Scale your approach to the situational need.

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