This is the second post in my ADDIE series; you can read the first post here and read this post about ADDIE. In this post I will share my lessons learned and best practices related to the Design phase; specially how to write a proposed solution in an Assessment document. There’s a lot to be done in the Design phase, so there will be a few posts for this phase of ADDIE.


What is Design?

It is the second phase in the ADDIE model. The goal of this phase is to create a solution that addresses the performance gap that was identified and agreed to in the Assessment phase.

For the sake of this post, we are going to assume that an actual training need was identified (meaning there is either a knowledge or skill gap). Of course that’s not always the case, but more on that in another post. I pinkie promise.

Design: Write a proposed solution

When does Design begin?

This is a little grey. I declare the beginning of the Design phase when I have an understanding of the context around the training request and the knowledge, skill and attitude that needs to be trained. I have confirmed my understanding, in writing, with the Requestor by way of an Assessment document.


My lesson: An Assessment document must include a general idea on how I plan on addressing the identified gap.

My goal is always to be a business partner. I can’t give them an overview of everything they already know even if I do add some new pieces of information I learned during interviews or reviewing data.

So yes, you’re right this needs training. I’ll come back in a few weeks and tell you more. Trust me, though, we definitely need training of some kind.

That’s what you’re saying if your Assessment document doesn’t include a solution. So if you want to be a partner, your Assessment document needs to include the following sections:

  1. A summary of the identified gap(s),
  2. A description of the audience(s), and
  3. An overview of the proposed solution with an evaluation strategy.


What does the “overview of the proposed solution” look like?

A proposed solution includes the topics or content that needs to be taught and supported in the workplace to close the identified gap. It also needs to include how that content should be taught (training methodology).

Once I have all the content/topics listed, I like to group them into larger subject buckets. That helps me understand how the pieces are interrelated and influence one another, which helps me make decisions about timing, methodology and evaluation. It also helps me later when working through the specific design or flow of the training.

The last thing I do is review each content/topic and decide if the training required for each one is either: knowledge, skill or attitude (KSAs).

  • Knowledge: Something that needs to be known or understood (cognitive); I need to know it. Example: Define …
  • Skill: Something that needs to be done or accomplished (psychomotor); I need to be able to do it. Example: Demonstrate …
  • Attitude: Something that needs to be felt (affective); I need to be excited about it. Example: Display …

Check out this blog post if you’d like to learn more about KSAs.

I like to display this information in a table format. Here’s a sample of what it could look like:

Table summarizing the proposed solution
Proposed solution table.

This is enough information for me to propose some ideas on how best to train this content/topic for this particular audience.

When I’m proposing training methodologies I consider audience and business constraints, and content type and complexity. I do that by asking these questions:

  • Given this audience or workplace, are there are any methodologies that are less appropriate?
    • A few things to consider: Are there any access issues? What else is on the marketing calendar? Are there any HR issues that would impact training time? Does this training require a system that does not have a “training environment”?

Tip: You want to create training that can be completed.

  • Given the complexity of the content, what is the best way to teach this new skill or knowledge?
    • Does this require a great deal of practice that a Manager is unable to provide feedback? Is this so new or so complex that it requires layers of instruction and support? How can you create the support or coaching?

Tip: Sometimes the support and coaching is inherent in the training method.

  • Is there any existing training that can be re-used?

Tip: Definitely reuse, assuming everyone is happy with the existing training. But that also means that you’ll have to create training that fits around existing training (i.e., content, tone and methodology).


Once I have a sense of how I’d like to proceed, there are two options on how to present my proposal:

  1. Add a column at the end of the table

Tip: This only works if you have a very clear idea of which topics will be taught via each method.

  1. Write a summary

Tip: This would be more high level and means that a clear breakdown won’t be made until I have written learning objectives and started designing.


At this point, I need to be able to tie my proposed solution to metrics that are important to the business. I use these questions to guide me:

  • What is the overall goal of the training solution? How does that goal support the project’s overall measure of success?

Tip: Try to capture this as succinctly and clearly as possible, preferably in a few sentences.

  • Given what is expected of the learners (overall project goal), what is the best way to measure this new skill or piece of knowledge?

Tip: Consider each subject that is mapped in the Proposed Solution table. If there is a subject in the table that can’t be tied to the overall project goal, ask yourself if it needs to be trained. And if it does need to be trained, why doesn’t it align? Something is amiss.


My lesson: Training must support the business; it really is that simple.

The Business is not there to support training. If a connection between the training and the business cannot be made, then the training is not needed. Ask yourself:

  • Why is the training being requested?
  • What is the overall goal of the training?
  • What are the business’ goals this year? Where are they focusing?

Then go back to the Requestor and ask for their help. A great question to begin the discussion is: how will we know when this is successful?


The bottom line

I want to be a business partner, so it’s important for me to begin scoping out the work to help understand the resources required as well as the priority and timing of the project.

I also include a note that things can change slightly as conversations and collaborations continue.