Weekend Reflections – 2019-06-01


My colleague and friend, Will Thalheimer, PhD., got me thinking again, about the job titles and the roles or hats we wear in the T&D/L&D field.

We Should We Call Ourselves? Let us Come to Consensus NOW!

Will was promoting the label/job title of Learning Architect.

After resisting the Learning word for our profession I finally started using it several years ago – but have recently gone back to Training – as in Training & Development – when even I would acknowledge that Instruction is probably a better, more inclusive term. So I mostly use T&D but sometimes combine them as T&D/L&D and sometimes as L&D/T&D.

Word Salad – Term Salad = same diff, as we’d say back in the day. But is that true for our clients as well. And for that part of HR that recruits for selection purposes?

Weeked Reflections 2019-06-01.png

I would use both ISD and ID as a start in job titles. I might modify ID with a tag, such as this ID-Video, or ID- Elearning, or ID-Video/Elearning/ILT/Structured OJT … but that’s just me.

Naming the “Badges Proven/Deserved” in the title.

However … after 40 years in this biz I am very well aware that it will not be up to me to decide. And I also know that there is no current affinity group/professional organization with enough weight to make the decision either that all will adhere to either.

It’s been like that for 40 years IMX.

A Twitter Exchange Earlier This Week

Excerpts from an exchange between: Will Thalheimer (@WillWorkLearn), Chris Straley (@IDGenius1) and Guy Wallace (@guywwallace)…

WT: What’s Your Name? Instructional Designer, Learning Experience Designer, Learning Engineer, Learning Architect? Find out what’s in a name: https://www.worklearning.com/2019/05/24/we-should-we-call-ourselves-let-us-come-to-consensus-now/ – And provide your perspective!!!

CS: The English teacher in me appreciates the effort to standardize the lexicon. The utilitarian in me believes we (L&D folk) are the only ones who care. Our customers (internal and external) sure don’t.

WT: Agreed. With one HUGE caveat. If we all used the same name and we all offered to help improve performance through learning, prompting, and informational access–wouldn’t our customers know better what we offer?

GW: It’s one thing to all claim the same title, but if there’s no battery of Performance Tests and client attestations to prove minimum Competence, and positive impact on real projects, I’m not sure it really advances the profession.

Reflections On All Of This

In my past as a consultant – where I was a partner in two consulting firms (Svenson & Wallace Inc. 1982-1997) and at CADDI (1997-2002) before I went “single shingle” in 2002, I had a staff (1982-2002) of between 15 and 25 with a mix of about half being consultants (the road team) and production staff (the home team).

I “grew my own” consultants – as they were to follow our ISD (Instructional Systems Design) and PI (Performance Improvement) methodologies – as these were both supported by unforgiving databases that wanted data for each field in the outputs produced along the way through each engagement. Some had ISD/ID experience and others did not. For one of my staff, with a non-ISD background – I used a Learning Log to have her (and me) track her progress in learning and then proving that she could perform – past post on that – here.

PACT is my ISD Methodology-Set


EPPI is my Performance Improvement Methodology-Set – if you are interested in that – seek that elsewhere on this site searching for “EPPI” – and you’ll find enough to keep you busy for a while.

They Both Needed to Coexist

as either one could lead to the other.


The Data Logic of My Database Called The PACTool

The graphic covers only some of the data-sets and connections.

pact data logic

Template City

I used templates in the Data Gathering efforts – usually but not always generated via a FGP – Facilitated Group Process with Master Performers and others, that were the same format as the Data Reports – so there was no claim of any sleight of hand. I wanted it to all be straightforward.

We had Project Plan and Proposal templates. We had Performance Model templates. We had Curriculum Architecture Design templates. We had our own version of ADDIE (MCD) templates.

And we had Instructional Activity templates for Job Aids/Performance Support/Guidance – another example of where our language is a salad IMO – as there are several more “labels” that we all use to describe what Rummler and Gilbert called Guidance back in the 1960s, and that Harless called Job Aids in the 1970s and 1980s (he won the name game … for a while anyway).

My ISD Roles/Hats

Members of my staff wore one or more of the following hats. They generally started off as a Developer – and they might just sit there as a specialist in video or eLearning, etc.

Some might aspire to becoming a PLD, and then a PMD, and then perhaps a PCD, and then if they “had it” a PPA, and then if they had another set of attributes, skills and desires, as PPM.


Their path up that chain was dependant on their desires, capabilities and my needs as a business partner/owner in the here and now … and in my future.

I didn’t need everyone to be a PPM. And not everyone wanted to be a PPM. That involved meeting with the Client Big Wigs and determining what they really wanted and establishing a detailed plan and proposal (I did fixed fee projects 80% or more of the time) and then managing, overseeing the Project and attending and running all of the Project Steering Team’s Gate Review Meetings with the client and all key stakeholders.

Many of the introverts in ISD/ID would rather die than face these tough customers.

And I needed people who would gladly go toe-to-toe with them – using the data generated by the Master Performers that they, the PST, had handpicked (see what I was doing there?).

See this next graphic for the GRMs of both CAD and MCD/IAD – they are the upside down Traffic Lights – not Stop Lights – but Go Lights.


As the graphic indicates – all of this is covered in lean-ISD – my book from 1999 – that I intended to use with my PACT Process Technology Transfer (PPTT) efforts with General Motors University – that after 5 years (1996-2000) and training almost 300 individuals on the GMU staff and in half-a-dozen of their contractor staffs, across one or more of the Hats of PACT – I decided I wanted more formal pre-readings and post-training references (spaced learning). For them and other future clients.

Thus the impetus for finishing a book I started way back in 1983.


Go here for the free 410 page book PDF. Go here for the Kindle or Paperback versions.

But Wait – There’s More

Note – I also have a series of 55+ videos to help the PACT Hats develop themselves.

Go here for the index of Videos on YouTube.


And note their are PACT Paths available for self-development using all of the FREE resources I’ve made available over the years (all on my website: http://www.eppic.biz) – here.

Back to Architecture

In My Approach to ISD/ID Architecture – like other Architects – I have building material elements that roll up to sub-components and components and products and systems.

My Enterprise Content Architecture (ECA) includes EVERYTHING… from the Top…

  • T&D Paths, composed of…
  • T&D Events, composed of…
  • T&D Modules/Lessons, composed of…
  • T&D Instructional Activities, composed of…
  • Content Elements, composed of… standard text, graphics and photos for ReUse “As Is” or “After Modification”

The ECA also stores Finished Goods – as they would be composed of the standard items – everything listed above – plus new content created for the offerings along with ReUsed content, Activities, Lessons, Events and Paths.

5 Tier

Client Testimonial from HP

I told the story of my effort at Training & Certifying My HP Client – back in 1992 – in This Blog Post.

Here are two graphics from that Post…




The added type at the bottom of the 2nd graphic was added by my client (practitioner) when she realized that I wasn’t included in the Award Submission – and they had won the award. This was her handout at NSPI back in 1993.

This had been my 3rd CAD effort with HP – and I was asked to develop the capabilities of one person – who would do future CAD efforts without me – which I had offered to my client – the practitioner’s boss – before I started the first one.

This was her trial by fire – so to speak. We covered Project Planning & Management – Analysis – CAD Design.

cad - pots 2012

The 3 PACT Hats of the PACT Practitioner Roles: PPM, PPA and PCD.

We co-facilitated our Teams of Master Performers and co-produced the CAD outputs. Which she used to guide her management of the Darryl Sink team to produce the actual Training/Instructional outputs.

She was now an ISD Architect IMO. And a Performance Analyst.

As you can see from page 2 above – she called one of her outputs “Procedures Manuals” – which are also known as: Guidance, or Job Aids, or Electronic Performance Support Systems, or Performance Support, or SOPs, or Workflow Learning, etc., etc. etc.

webp.net-gifmaker (16)

Learning/Training/Instructional/Curriculum Architecture

I’ve been doing CAD efforts since 1981 when I did my first as an employee at MNTEC – Motorola’s Training & Education Center. I’ve done 76 for my clients since 1982.

IMO – ISDers do the architectural thing.


And IDs do the Development efforts.

I posted about that – 2 hours before this post went live: here.

One Ring To Rule Them All?

One Name to Rule Them All?

I’m not in favor of that. Engineers come in different types: electrical, mechanical, chemical, to name but 3. They work with electricians and mechanics and chemists.

I’d like to see the terminology in the field standardized. But I won’t hold my breath.

And I would advocate for using ISD … and ID with Specialties tagged on.

Some of the Voices In The Call for Naming Our Tune

These are just a few in the evolving dialogue…

Will Thalheimer advocates for Learning Architect. But too many are now questioning the term Learning being a product (that one might architect/design/etc.).

Bror Saxberg has picked up on the call for Learning Engineers…

From: The Case for Learning Engineers in Education By Bror Saxberg – Oct 30, 2016

We need learning engineers. By this phrase (first used, as far as I am aware, in the 1960’s by Herbert Simon, the computer-scientist and Nobel-prize winning economist), we mean people who are deliberately trained and focused on designing and systematically improving learning environments at scale in measurable ways.

3 Videos of Bror Saxberg talking about Learning Engineering:

Ellen Wagner @edwsonoma – has a Learning Engineering: A Primer – available from the Elearning Guild’s Research Library from May 23, 2019.

From: https://www.elearningguild.com/insights/238/learning-engineering-a-primer

The term learning engineering was coined more than 50 years ago by Herbert Simon, a Nobel Laureate and Carnegie Mellon professor. Today there is renewed interest in the discipline, which merges scientific methods and engineering principles with learning.  This research report, Learning Engineering: A Primer, by Ellen Wagner, PhD, explores how learning engineering is expected to impact L&D.

Specifically, the report explores:

  • The evolving role of today’s instructional designer
  • A definition of learning engineering, according to different thought leaders
  • Key players and initiatives surrounding learning engineering
  • New skills required by those interested in pursuing the discipline
  • Educational and enterprise opportunities

Note – you need membership access to get the Full Report.

Ellen also has presented recently on this – and I snagged her slide off of Twitter…


A Twitter Reply By Me a Few Days Ago

I won’t share the whole chain – but my Tweet/Reply:

Back in 1980s ID sometimes meant Instructional Designer and other times Instructional Developer.

We’ve had this issue forever – or so it would seem.

THAT does not mean we should accept the Status Quo. But who does/would a new title serve? And how?

I’ll end my reflection with repeating the words of a Tweet from Chris Straley

The English teacher in me appreciates the effort to standardize the lexicon. The utilitarian in me believes we (L&D folk) are the only ones who care. Our customers (internal and external) sure don’t.


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