L&D: Macro Design Before Development to Avoid the One-Off Approach

Architecture – Before Building & Buying Content

Avoid the All-Too-Typical Approach of Instructional One-Offs.

Macro – before Micro – so to speak.


They – a collection of One-Offs – most often don’t add up to anything approaching a system of Instruction & Information enabling terminal performance.

And isn’t that – terminal performance – the goal?

First – Focus on the Performance Competence Requirements

It’s both pretty Simple and Complex.

Simple … is the focus on Outputs and Tasks.

Complex … are the Requirements of all of the Stakeholders.


Imagine if one of your favorite or most needed products was built bottoms up versus top down. If your automobile was kluged together from available parts not designed to fit and work together – how would that look, feel and work?

Or your smartphone? If you took a screen from one place and a shell case from another and the batteries from yet another.

Bottom Up sometimes is oversold as so democratic – but no successful company builds their products that way. They most typically specify exactly what they want/need from their suppliers – and seldom just take whatever is already out there.


When you take existing content it can’t be specific for audiences other than yours and simply delivered. It’d be akin to taking an active listening course for Customer Complaints department target audiences … and just using that “as is” for Marketing Focus Groups target audiences.

Cut & Paste and Copy & Paste  Content – yeah. The core/generics of Active Listening – yeah, that too. But the Demonstrations and Applications Exercises – no. Just no.

Architect Your Content Before Building & Buying and Augmenting

You could buy Active Listening and use After Modification. Or ReUsing Content in the Enterprise Inventory and using that After Modification of the INFOs of explanations of the Performance and Learning Objectives related to the authentic on-the-job applications, examples/scenarios of the same, DEMOs of the authentic applications and APPOs (Application Exercises) of authentic Practice with Feedback – which is necessary if the Tasks are tricky, complex and/or involve Interpersonal Skills.


And perhaps your context is one where your client wants Performance Tests to be administered before addressing whatever Content that might be needed – as determined by the administration of the Performance Tests.

It’s happened to me – in 1987 – up in Prudhoe Bay. And was the stimulus for creating the concept of IAD – Instructional Activity Development/Acquisition – that might later need to wrap smoothly around components of Instruction & Information addressed by MCD – Modular Curriculum Development — my version of ADDIE: a Project Management framework and NOT an Instructional Design model.



CADs Produce Paths and Identify Gaps at the Modular Level

For Business Decision making. Because…

Just because an Instructional Designer can determine a valid Learning Need

… does not in and of itself warrant meeting that need.

It’s a Business Decision.

How you tee up those decisions is critical – in my experience.


How You Design Your Modular Curriculum Either Enablers More Effective and Efficient Sharing – Or It Does Not

I use this 5 Tier Module Inventory Framework. And note – this facilitates the Prioritization of Gaps – and Modules become Lessons after CAD in MCD.


Lessons are the second level of my modular approach in MCD.

MCD – Modular Curriculum Development/Acquisition

Note: IAD – Instructional Activity Development/Acquisition uses the same starter Project Management framework – adapted as needed.


  • Paths are composed of modular Events.


  • Events are composed on modular Lessons.
  • Lessons are composed of modular Instructional Activities.

And just as a CAD effort can lead to multiple MCD/IAD efforts – one MCD front-end can lead to multiple work-streams of Development – Pilot Test – Revision & Release. To better insure the By Design “fit and finish” of Instruction and/or Information that needs to work as a System of Instruction (ISD).


The 5 Tier Inventory of Modules designs (in CAD) becomes finished products in MCD/IAD.


Address the business critical Target Audiences deliberately and share what’s developed/acquired with the less critical Target Audiences. That’s the philosophy of PACT.




Book Resources on PACT

Free PDF – lean-ISD – is also available as a paperback and Kindle.


The PACT-EPPI 6 Pack

For an approach from Training to Performance-based Training to Performance Consulting.

One step at a time. 1-2-3.


How Did I Come Up With All Of This?

Back in 1979 I was influenced by Rummler, Gilbert, Mager and to a lesser extent, Harless at Wickes Lumber in my first job out of college.

In 1981 I went to work at Motorola where I worked with my consultant (and mentor) Geary A. Rummler, among others. At Motorola I served Manufacturing, Materials and Purchasing target audiences and learned about MRP and modular product design and systems design. Then I started applying that to a quality curriculum for Manufacturing Supervisors via a Path/Roadmap.

In 1982 I worked on my first Curriculum Architecture Design for an entire job – Exxon Geologists and Geophysicists in the Exploration USA group for Ray Svenson – whom I joined in his consulting company months later – where I specialized in Curriculum Architecture Design and later became a partner in the firm that became SWI (Svenson & Wallace Inc.).

In 1991 I took my formal, structured, Group Process approach to CAD efforts and applied it to content development analysis and design for Illinois Bell and Labor Relations for Supervisors. That became MCD.

In 1987 our client in Prudhoe Bay wanted to develop what became over 2200 Performance Tests for 20 Target Audiences (for a Pay Progression Program) before building/buying Instructional Content later. They would use the Tests to see where to invest in Content. The Tests were so successful – and demonstrated that the Tests – part of an open book approach – led to the decision that Instruction wasn’t needed.

The manuals and SOPs and buddies in the workplace  – already available – were sufficient to get the learning job done – PLUS the fact that everyone’s pay was tied to their demonstrating their Performance Competence.

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One comment on “L&D: Macro Design Before Development to Avoid the One-Off Approach

  1. Pingback: Learning Isn’t “An Event” – But Instruction Might Be a Chain of Events | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

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