Book For Sale: The 3 Ds of ThoughtFlow Analysis

Book For Sale: The 3 Ds of ThoughtFlow Analysis

Task Analysis for Instructional Development

Published July 25, 2021

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Book Cover:

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Book Description:

412 pages.

Eliciting the covert Cognitive Tasks that parallel the overt Behavioral Tasks – the thinking that accompanies the doing – in performance is difficult, as up to 70% of knowledge is non-conscious and automated.

Instructional Developers who work with experts to create Instruction (Learning Experiences) to help people learn how to perform authentic job tasks will find the 3 Ds of ThoughFlow Analysis, a proven method to ensure that their Instructional Content is accurate, complete, and appropriate so that it more successfully Transfers and has Performance Impact back-on-the-job for their audiences.

Table of Contents

Copyright Page ii
Early Reviews i
Table of Contents ix
Dedications xi
Acknowledgments xii
Preface 1
Foreword 1 9
Section A Orientation & Overview to 13
The 3Ds of ThoughtFlow Analysis 13
Chapter 1: Introduction to ThoughtFlow Analysis for Instructional Development 17
Section A Summary 55
Section B Instructional Analysis of the ThoughtFlow in the WorkFlow 56
Chapter 2: Outputs are Inputs 61
Chapter 3: Measures are Established by Stakeholders 73
Chapter 4: Tasks and Sub-Tasks 87
Chapter 5: Roles & Responsibilities 98
Chapter 6: Gaps & Cause Analysis 109
Chapter 7: Deriving the Enabling Knowledge & Skills 123
Section B Summary 153
Section C The Instructional Design Efforts 157
Chapter 8: Designing & Mapping the Instructional Events 160
Chapter 9: Designing & Mapping Instructional Lessons 175
Chapter 10: Specifying the Instructional Activities 197
Section C Summary 209
Section D The Instructional Development Efforts 213
Chapter 11: Developing Instructional Content Reflecting the 3 Ds Applied to The Process Itself 223
Chapter 12: Developing Instructional Content Reflecting the 3 Ds Applied to The Environmental Enablers 241
Chapter 13: Developing Instructional Content Reflecting the 3 Ds Applied to The Human Enablers 255
Chapter 14: Developmental Testing the Instructional Content 267
Chapter 15: Pilot Testing the Instructional Content 277
Chapter 16: Revision & Release of the Instructional Content 287
Summary Section D 292
Section E Book Summary & Close 295
Appendices 299
Appendix A: 3D Job Aids 300
Appendix B: Modular Curriculum Development Phases and Tasks 309
Appendix C: References & Resource Listing 349
About the Author 357
Index 363
Detailed Table of Contents 371

Click Here to Purchase Hardback: $35.00

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The Foreword & the Early Reviews

Thanks to Mirjam Neelen for her Foreword!

Mirjam Neelen
Head of Global Learning Design & Learning Sciences
Co-author of Evidence-Informed Learning Design

“Our clients want us to move fast so we don’t have time to do more analysis.”

“We don’t have access to SMEs.”

“We can’t do needs analysis or test learning solutions with our people as they’re too busy.”

Learning professionals often mutter these types of explanations between their teeth when delivering half-baked, shallow solutions. Sometimes we feel sorry for ourselves. Then we complain about being order takers, about the business not taking us seriously, or not seeing the value we provide.

My hope is that this book will help us all realize that it’s mostly us and not them, that we can definitely take control and improve our practice to deliver more impactful, performance-focused learning solutions.

Guy Wallace – in my humble opinion – is a rare gem in the Learning & Development field. He has shown over and over again that if clients have identified an important performance problem, they are willing to invest the time in solving it.

What makes Guy different? Why do his clients listen to him, and why has he been able to successfully analyze performance problems and deliver holistic solutions for decades? Perhaps he’s taught his dog Bueller some tricks, but he surely isn’t a magician?

I believe it’s simple. Guy Wallace knows his stuff. He knows what he’s doing and why, and he’s able to articulate it clearly to his clients. They trust him because he’s able to demonstrate that his process works. He delivers value. And we’re lucky, as through this book, he empowers all of us to become a bit like him.

Partly, this book repeats the process that Guy describes in detail in his previous book ‘Conducting Performance-Based Instructional Analysis, providing you with the right level of context to understand the role of thoughtflow analysis in his overall design process.

The book helps you reflect on some of the things that we, as learning professionals, could (and should) do better and Guy clearly shows, step by step, how to do it and why to do it that way. The deep dive into the thoughtflow analysis deserves your full attention as it’s a glaring gap in our usual practice.

The first part of the thoughtflow analysis, focusing on the overt behaviors, happens in Guy’s initial analysis phase. After identifying the ‘Areas of Performance’ (these can also be thought of as major duties, key results areas, or accomplishments) in the context of the performance problem, the next step is to determine the key outputs and their key measures (in other words, what are the deliverables, and what does good look like?). Then, for each output, he conducts a task analysis. This is where the first phase of the thoughtflow analysis comes in, where he teases out the overt behaviors. In other words: The behaviors that we can observe, the ‘what do to.’ 

It’s quite trendy nowadays to stop there, flowing from the idea that performance matters more than learning. Tom Gilbert used to call this ‘The Cult of Behavior’ as if the observable behaviors are the means to an end. They’re not. In particular, when we’re dealing with complex tasks at work (tasks that require us to constantly analyze the situation as we’re dealing with different variables depending on the context and hence, we constantly need to ask ourselves questions and make considerations in order to make the best decision for that particular situation), different circumstances might require different behaviors.

This is why this book is so important. It clearly makes the distinction between the analysis to determine ‘ideal performance’ and the analysis we need to do to ensure that we design interventions that help people achieve that ideal performance.

To help people learn how to perform critical tasks to achieve ideal performance, we also need to figure out what the likely performance gaps and their probable causes (e.g., a process issue, an environmental issue, a knowledge & skill issue, etcetera) are for the target audience, as well as the enabling knowledge and skills for each output-task for each (critical) role.

Guy does and explains this well. He first anchors the design work using the overt behavioral tasks (the ‘what to do’), and then he works with master performers to derive the covert cognitive tasks (the thinking that guides the doing), determining the critical discriminations, determinations, and decisions for each task.

As Guy explains: Discriminations in the Performance Context lead to Determinations on how to carry on in either a standard manner or to switch to a non-standard approach, which then leads to Decisions as to which non-standard approach to use.

I’m convinced that Guy’s book will not only trigger you to think about your practice differently. It will also provide you with a step-by-step guide that you will go back to over and over again when working with clients.

Much of what Guy describes in this new book reminds me of experiences I’ve had with my own clients. Initially, they grumble that I’m asking too many questions, taking up too much of their time. They ask if I can please just take their content and run with it. But when they start to see there’s a gap between the identified performance problem and the content they originally thought would ‘fix it,’ they start to understand that more work needs to be done. Even better, when they start explaining what they do, the steps to perform the tasks, what good looks like, the rationale behind what they’re doing, and so forth, they become very enthusiastic and are usually volunteering more time. They also become very creative, contributing fantastic ideas for effective, efficient, and enjoyable learning solutions. Why? Because they see the value and they see how they can play a part in delivering value to their people and the business. Believe me, using this book, you can, too.

Thanks to my Early Reviewers for their Feedback and the Quotes!

Dick (Richard E.) Clark, Ed.D.
Emeritus Professor of Educational Psychology and Technology in the Rossier School of Education and Emeritus Clinical Research Professor of Surgery in the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.

“Guy Wallace has again produced an excellent update of what we’ve learned recently about the design, development, and assessment of training and performance improvement initiatives.  

For example, his discussion importantly emphasizes new developments at the task analysis stage.  He provides a useful overview of the differences between, and interactions among, expert’s cognitive and behavioral skills and knowledge – with an emphasis on ‘unconscious” or “tacit” cognitive (mental) decisions necessary to perform any work task.  He alerts us to the fact that experts are not able to describe 70 percent of the decisions they constantly make as they work and so unintentionally fail to report them to designers – and he provides work arounds to help designers identify decisions missed during analysis.  

In addition, Guy couples his update with what we’ve come to expect from him – useful and comprehensive process models that help designers pull together the many operations that occur at every stage as training is analyzed, shaped, and presented.”


Jeff Dalto
Performance Improvement & Learning Specialist 

“Guy Wallace has written another great book to add to the bookshelf. Buy and read this book carefully for at least two reasons:

(1) a helpful, very-detailed walkthrough of the ADDIE-like method(s) Guy uses for performance-improvement and training projects with his clients, including lots of helpful sample templates and even self-practice exercises(!) as well as

(2) a helpful focus on cognitive task analysis, or CTA, which aims to get at the cognitive tasks performed by a person during a job task along with just the more easily-observable physical tasks.

Get it now and give it a read, then refer back to it over time as needed.”


Matthew C. Day
Anthropology Ph.D. Research Student
& Senior NHS Education and Development Practitioner

The 3 Ds of ThoughtFlow Analysis for Instructional Development is Wallace’s sixteenth book that continues to chronicle his instructional design processes, underlying philosophies, and practical methods that he has adopted, adapted, constructed, and developed since 1979. This book compliments his previous work, Conducting performance-based Instructional Analysis: In Every Phase of an Instructional Development Effort (2020), by expanding substantially on how he elicits non-conscious, subtle cognitive tasks that are often shrouded by the ‘curse of knowledge’ bias.

The book is structured into five sections: The first section sets expectations, defines the key concepts and scope of the text. The second section guides the reader through a toolbox of Wallace’s analysis of the stakeholder requirements and learning needs. In the third section, the analysis is mapped and built into an instructional design which, in the fourth section, is progressed into the development of instructional content before ending in section five with a summary.

If read from start to finish, the book not only functions as a toolbox for instructional designers but allows Wallace to train you through the text. Wallace offers detailed explanations with Examples and a ‘now you try it’ element at the end of each chapter, complete with templates to get started. The generosity of assets throughout the text is notable. In addition to Wallace’s processes, he respectfully provides a detailed account of the references after each chapter that inform and support his practices. Similarly, he encourages readers to be creative, adopt what works and adapt the rest so that, by the end of the book, you will have created your own personalised approach from Wallace’s lessons.

The book has a linear structure aligned to project delivery and works well with a conversational style and tone. It reads as if you were sat with Wallace, talking through how to make the necessary discriminations, determinations, and decisions at each stage, and he encourages you to test out each component for yourself. This style, along with the embedded activities, created a good pace for the book and kept the pages turning for me as I could see the outputs from each chapter. By completing all the activities, you will end up with your own variant of Wallace’s approaches. To further support the reader’s development, Wallace includes a trove of carefully selected resources throughout the main sections and further resources in a generous bounty of appendices.

I would recommend this book to those new to learning and development and experienced practitioners alike. This book reproduces its content with the reader by offering a written asynchronous guided process of co-design. I felt at a substantial advantage having read Conducting performance-based Instructional Analysis: In Every Phase of an Instructional Development Effort (2020). However, this book provides full explanations of its content and clearly functions as a standalone text. A valuable book for anyone looking to take the lead on performance-based accelerated customer/stakeholder-driven training and development.”


David James

“Thoughtflow can be easily neglected when designing for instruction and performance, but Guy draws on decades of real-life experience, where he’s operated ahead-of-the-curve, to unpack it for both performance and real results. What this means is that Guy sees past the usual Holy Grail of ‘engagement’ that too many L&D teams see as success in order to impact what really matters to employees and organisations. This book is a complete and logical exploration of each stage of the process, from analysis to designing for Thoughtflow and combining it with robust behavioral instruction to take any L&D to the level at which it should operate. A must for all who truly seek to impact performance and results.”


Patti Shank, Ph.D., Researcher, Author,
Facilitator of Write Better Multiple-Choice Questions

“We simply can’t design relevant and valuable training without understanding workers’ tasks and outputs. Without understanding them, we don’t develop skills. We develop content (only), and that’s a terribly poor substitute.

Guy’s new book will make it easier for you to make sense of analyzing tasks and outputs. Since understanding tasks and outputs is critical for writing good multiple-choice questions (and instructional activities), I’ll be recommending it.”


Dawn Snyder, Ph.D., C.P.T.
CEO & Managing Principal
Dawn Snyder Associates

“Guy Wallace’s latest book expands on the theme of focusing curriculum design efforts on performance by ensuring that designers capture SMEs’ overt thought processes (“ThoughtFlow”) as part of the analysis process and leverage this information throughout the entire design and development cycle. (This is in addition to documenting explicit processes/behaviors.) He frames this effort in the context of his Modular Curriculum Development Process, which is explicated in previous works and here as well.

The key to considering overt behaviors is presented as a step-by-step approach that includes Discriminations, Determinations, and Decisions. These are labels of important decision points as a subject-matter-expert approaches variable work.

The idea that instructional designers and others should consider thought processes is key to supporting performance in today’s knowledge workers and is frequently overlooked in contemporary practice.”


Will Thalheimer, Ph.D.

“In Guy Wallace’s new book, The 3 Ds of ThoughtFlow Analysis, Guy shows us how to uncover learner performance needs with a proven process that is both easy and powerful.

Based on Guy’s four decades of doing this work, the book is filled with practical insights. Page after page, I found myself saying, “Wow! That’s a great point! I need to remember that lesson learned!”

As L&D professionals, we know we should be doing robust cognitive task analysis, but we shy away from it. Now we have no more excuses! By following Guy’s pressure-tested approach, we can create performance-focused learning interventions!”


This short video is 3:04 minutes in length.


The 3 Ds of ThoughtFlow Analysis – Job Aid