A Secret Cure to Brain Freeze

I once had a content developer share a problem he was having. He said he received an email from one of the business managers in his company and it simply said: “We need product training on our new software upgrades. The entire sales team and their managers need to be trained on the new features. Let me know the schedule.”   With a shake of his head he said: “How do I respond to that? The new product launch is in six weeks.”

As simple as it may seem, my answer is always the same.  “What is the business need and what does the sales team need to know once they have taken the training?” I generally get the quick answers: “They need to know the new features.” OK, good start but…we need to work on that answer. That quick answer generally opens the door to the next questions: “What methods do you have to deliver this amount of training in such a short period of time and who will help you design and develop this training?” Ahhh,  silence. Brain Freeze! If you can’t explain how you will get from point A to point B when developing training in your organization, then chances are you have no real training development model.

A training development model will provide you and your training team with a step-by-step process that will help you design training quickly. It has a defined starting and ending, point giving you clear direction so you can avoid brain freeze.  If you don’t have a good design and development process in place, chances are you will struggle with all of your training development projects.

One approach to defining your training strategy is to adopt the ADDIE model. The flowchart below represents a complete ADDIE cycle. 


ADDIE is an established and accepted training development model used by many instructional designers. However, it’s time consuming and the thought of applying this model every time you want to develop training will surely give you brain freeze!

In order to survive the training crunch you need to develop a model that can be shared within your organization and most importantly, is easily repeatable. Let’s take a look at the same ADDIE model as a shared workflow.

The revised training development model below represents a shared model that allows you to utilize the skills and knowledge from others within your organization. HR for example may have job descriptions identified for key job roles. The SME may leverage these job descriptions to quickly identify specific tasks and objectives for the training. Rather than trying to write the objectives on your own, leverage the resources and knowledge you have in your organization. This can be as simple as routing a training requirements document that offers them the opportunity to give you this critical information.  This requirements document can be used again for other training initiatives making your Analysis phase quicker and easily repeatable.



While this workflow shows that you should strategically incorporate others within your workflow to speed up the design and development process, an alternative shows the work occurring in a less linear fashion as seen in the following workflow.


This training development workflow not only incorporates the most strategic people in your organization for developing training initiatives, it also allows the “people tasks” to happen in tandem.  Since individuals can work in tandem, the process moves much more efficiently. This will give you a sound development process (ADDIE), but also creates a workflow that is rapid and repeatable.  This is one of many possible workflows. The key is designing one that is customized for your needs.  For example, in the case of a college or university, the faculty becomes the SME and may hold the task of storyboarding and building the training. 

As for my friend who has to develop the delta training for a new software release, I would highly recommend an approach that is less linear to develop a model that can provide him with the resources he needs to help get the job done faster; a model that ensures the training will remain educationally sound and meet the company’s business goals, such as the third example.  In addition, I would encourage him to negotiate with his internal clients to gain a seat at the table during the planning phase of future upgrades in order to ensure training is included in the overall project planning process. 

Hopefully these process model examples have helped to warm up your frozen brain. In the meantime, look for my next blog titled “Who’s on First?” that will explain in more detail why the requirements document holds the key to the success of your training initiative or feel free to contact me so we can assess together your needs for a training workflow overhaul that would benefit your entire organization.


Deneena Lanius About Deneena Lanius

Deneena Lanius, Enterprise Learning Strategist for Avalon Consulting, LLC, with over 17 years of experience in the analysis, design, development and implementation of corporate training and e-Learning solutions, is responsible for the positioning of the Applied Dynamic e-Learning Processes & Tools (ADEPT) model and other key e-Learning models within Avalon. Her expertise spans a wide range of e-Learning technologies from Learning Management Systems to hands-on practical experience with Web-based Training development tools. Prior to joining Avalon, Lanius held a Senior e-Learning Development role at EDS University. She is a thought leader in the area of e-Learning, having co-authored the Avalon ADEPT model. Lanius has managed implementations and has written governance standards for various organizations who seek to improve their training programs and implement e-Learning technologies. Her field of study is in Computer Science. She holds multiple certifications, primarily in the discipline of technical training, and is also a member of the ASTD organization.

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