Focusing on Buyers of Training

Readers on teams that produce training materials may want to skip this chapter.

Traditional Sequentially Executed ADDIE (aka Waterfall Method)

First let’s compare the traditional sequentially executed Instructional Design (ID) framework, called ADDIE (analysis, design, development, implementation, evaluation) [1], with the Lean-Agile approach. There are some groups who may say, "But ADDIE doesn’t have to be sequentially executed. ADDIE can be iterative." We agree.

In applying instructional models, there tends to also be a project management approach either wrapped around or integrated into the instructional model/approach.

Traditional project management approaches typically include the following activities:

  1. Definition (goal, objectives, work breakdown structure (WBS), resource requirements)

  2. Planning (roles, responsibilities, deliverable sequencing, resource scheduling, risk management)

  3. Implementation (monitoring performance, adjusting, recovering)

  4. Closeout and Evaluate (how we did, lessons learned)

When a traditional sequentially executed ADDIE value stream is used, the customer expects to experience interactions with the contractor or supplier in the following order:

  1. Analysis

  2. Design

  3. Development

  4. Implementation

  5. Evaluation (if they choose to use evaluation, and to what Kirkpatrick level)

When wrapping traditional project management approaches around ADDIE, you may add some phases or stages to the expectations:

  1. Project Definition and Planning

  2. Project Implementation

    1. Analysis

    2. Design

    3. Development

    4. Implementation

    5. Evaluation

  3. Project Closeout

When these sequentially executed ADDIE phases or stages are put on a project Gantt chart for scheduling, it tends to look like a stair case descending to the right over time. If water were poured down these stairs, water would fall from analysis to design, to development, etc. Such sequentially execution is often called the waterfall method because of this visualization of water flowing down from one step or stage to the next after the first is completed.

Figure 1. Water Flows Down the Phase Stairs from High to Low (durations are examples only)

The ADDIE Model of instruction systems design seems to have been originally developed [1] in the 1970s by Florida State University for the United States military.[2] The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), nicknamed the 'waterfall' approach, was also adopted by the U.S. DoD after a misunderstood presentation in 1970 by Winston Royce.[3]

Both ADDIE and SDLC can both be described as waterfall when executed in sequential stages.

1. Some credit Michael Molenda for the creation of the commonly used ADDIE model. If interested in the history of ADDIE, read In Search of the Elusive ADDIE Model, by Michael Molenda of Indiana University, published in Performance Improvement, May/June 2003 by
2. Wikipedia contributors, "ADDIE Model," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,
3. Wikipedia contributors, "Winston W. Royce," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,

Line By Line

Here a Little, There a Little, Layer by Layer.

Back to Overview