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ADDIE and the 5 Rules of Zen

Analysis = Shizen (自然)


Shizen means naturalness in that it avoids artificial construction. This means analysis must be sought for and expressed in a plain, simple, and natural manner. To get to its natural roots, describe the business need in terms of the performance desired and where they are now. Everything between their present state and desired performance is the performance gap. This gap must be bridged by identifying the skills and knowledge that enable the learners to perform.

Shizen also applies to the learners. Learning becomes difficult when we have to learn new concepts because we have no relationship to them, thus we construct artificial backgrounds. However, when we relate to a new concept naturally by linking it to an experience that is familiar to us, then we learn much faster and deeper. This is why we need to capture the present performance of the learners so that we can create “Advance Organizers” that will link the learner's new knowledge to this present performance or knowledge level. Learners who are given Advance Organizers at the beginning of a learning process have been shown to increase transfer of training.

Design = Shibui/Shibumi (渋味)


deco by Ohad

Shibui is coolness and beauty through a clear design and nothing more. Think of design as minimalist that articulates brevity. If you decorate or carry it beyond what it was meant to be, then it becomes gauche rather than deco. Think lean by identify the minimal steps and activities that will enable the learners to master the performance rather than rather than overdoing it by including every possibility. To help transform the learning from an activity to a process and reduce the complexity of training; determine the support, such as tools and performance aids, they will need to enable their performance in the workplace.

Development = Fukinsei (均整)


enso circle by Vibhav

Fukinsei means asymmetry or irregularity. Controlling balance through the use of irregularity and asymmetry is a central belief in Zen aesthetics. For example, the enso or Zen circle is often incomplete to symbolize the asymmetry. Too often we try so hard to create the perfect learning platform by filling in all the blanks that it fails to draw the learners in — we tend to be drawn in more when we can fill in some of the blanks on our own. Designers also tend to carry it to the extreme by adding too much content — it overwhelms the learners with too much information. Thus we need to strive for some incompleteness, irregularity, and/or asymmetry in order to draw the soon-to-be performers into the learning process.

Fukinsei design also implies a deductive approach. That is, rather than being presented with a complete set of concepts, rules, and strategies, that explicitly instructs the learners, they must explore and experiment with the task to infer and learn the rules, principles, and strategies for effective performance (discovery or experimental learning). This approach has been shown to build “Adaptive Expertise” — becoming more adaptable in order to solve unstructured and ill-defined problems. Also closely related to this is “Error-based Learning” to allow for more control processing.


“Nature itself is full of beauty and harmonious
relationships that are asymmetrical yet balanced.
This is a dynamic beauty that attracts and engages.”
- Garr Reynolds

Implement = Kanso (簡素)

Bento Box

Kanso means simplicity by eliminating the unneeded things (clutter) to find the clear structure. Clear structure does not necessarily mean a linear list, but rather a choice of options. However, when it comes to practicing the skills, ensure it includes whole-task practice that will help to carry performance to the workplace.

A Kanso style choice of options is also critical as providing learner control has been shown to also build “Adaptive Expertise.”

Evaluation = Seijaku (静寂)


Seijaku is tranquility or an energized calm. An effective learning platform should bring a sense of peace to the organization by eliminating the gap between the present performance and the desired performance identified in the analysis phase. The use of iterations will allow you to quickly lower the unintentional noise and disturbance. Continue iterating until the disturbance has been transformed into the desired state of tranquility.

Seijaku should also be carried one step farther — having the learners participate by monitoring and evaluating in order to help them increase their metacognitive skills.

Adapted from one of my blog posts —
Parts of the main article were also adapted from my posts at


ISD Models

ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implement, Evaluate) is part if the ISD family (Instructional System Design). It includes such other models as the Dick & Carey (2004) and Kemp (Gustafson, Branch, 1997) models.

While the concept of ISD has been around since the early 1960s, ADDIE first appeared in 1975. It was created by the Center for Educational Technology at Florida State University for the U.S. Armed Forces (Branson, Rayner, Cox, Furman, King, Hannum, 1975; Watson, 1981).

“As defense machinery was becoming more and more sophisticated, the educational background of entry level soldiers was becoming lower and lower. The potential solution to this problem was in the form of a "systems approach" to training. The system selected for use by the Army was Instructional Systems Development (ISD), developed in 1975 by Florida State University. ISD is a comprehensive five phase process encompassing the entire training/educational environment. Although ISD is a systematic step-by-step approach, it has the flexibility to be used with both individualized and traditional instruction. It is however, specifically orientated towards the use of behavioral/performance objectives and criterion-referenced tests.” - Watson, 1981

Six years later, Dr. Russell Watson (1981), Chief, Staff and Faculty Training Division of the Fort Huachuca, Arizona, presented a paper to International Congress for Individualized Instruction. In it, he discusses the ADDIE model as developed by Florida State University. His presentaion contained a chart similar to this:

The Five Steps of ADDIE

Note: Watson used a slightly different model than the one developed by Florida State University in that the five basic phases are the same, but the steps within each phase have been slightly modified: I lost the reference, but I believe the original steps as designed by Flordia State University looked like this chart.


A model is a simplified abstract view of a complex reality or concept, for example, Silvern defines a model as a "graphic analog representing a real-life situation either as it is or as it should be" (AECT, 1977). This makes ADDIE a model. While it has been modeled in several ways, the model below shows one popular way (Clark, 1995):

Evaluation Analysis Design Development Implement ISD

ADDIE has often been called a process model (DeSimone, Werner, Harris, 2002); however, this is only true if you blindly follow it. A much better way is to use ADDIE is to think of it as a guide to give you direct intuitive insight into the problem at hand, for example, see the right sidebar, “ADDIE and the 5 Rules of Zen.”

ID Models

ID (Instruction Design) models differ from ISD models in that ISD models have a broad scope and typically divide the instruction design process into five phases (van Merriënboer, 1997):

ID models are less broad in nature and mostly focus on analysis and design, thus they normally go into much more detail, especially in the design portion. ID models are normally employed in conjunction with ISD models as explained in the section, “Extending ADDIE”.

The Dynamics of ADDIE

When the ADDIE model first appeared in 1975, it was strictly a linear or waterfall model. For example, in October 1981, Russell Watson presented a paper and wrote, "The five phases of ISD are analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation and control. The first four are sequential in nature, but the evaluation and control phase is a continuous process that is conducted in conjunction with all of the others." He included this diagram with the paper:

ADDIE as an outdated linear model


However, by 1984 the model evolved into a more dynamic nature for the first four phases. For example, a U.S. Army (1984) training manual reads, "As the model shows, all parts are interrelated. Changes, which occur during one step of the model, affect other steps. In the ISD process, nothing is done in isolation, nor is all done in a linear fashion; activities of various phases may be accomplished concurrently." The manual contains the following model:

Dynamic ADDIE model from a 1984 U.S. Army training manual

The U.S. Army is perhaps one of the most disciplined and structured organizations; however, even they could not design training in such a linear manner, thus they evolved it into a more dynamic nature. Since the original ADDIE model was designed in an university, they took take a "summative approach" in order to evaluate the validity of the learning/training theory that was to be designed into training. However, Instructional Designers who work in most organizations are far more concerned with actually producing an effective learning learning process to meet the need's of the business, thus they take a more "formative approach" in order to refine goals and evolve strategies for achieving those goals.

In addition, beside getting to a more dynamic structure, the last phase was changed from "Evaluation & Control to simply "Evaluation."

Extending ADDIE

The broad scope and heuristic method of ISD has often been criticized by others because it tells learning designers what to do, but not how to do it. Yet it is this broad and sketchy nature of ISD that gives it such great robustness. Merriënboer (1997, p3) writes, “the phases may be listed in a linear order, but in fact are highly interrelated and typically not performed in a linear but in an iterative and cyclic fashion.” He further notes that other ID and learning models can be used in conjunction with ISD.

Thus, ISD basically becomes plug and play — you add other components to it on an as-needed-basis. For example, the ISD model below has Action Mapping, 4C/ID, and Prototyping plugged into it for designing a robust learning environment for training complex skills:

Extended ADDIE - plug and play


AECT, (1977). Educational technology: Definition and glossary (Vol 1). Washington DD: Association for Educational Communications and Technology. p. 168

Branson, R. K., Rayner, G. T., Cox, J. L., Furman, J. P., King, F. J., Hannum, W. H. (1975). Interservice procedures for instructional systems development. (5 vols.) (TRADOC Pam 350-30 NAVEDTRA 106A). Ft. Monroe, VA: U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, August 1975. (NTIS No. ADA 019 486 through ADA 019 490).

Branson, R. K. (principal investigator) (1975). Interservice procedures for instructional systems development: Executive summary and model. Tallahassee, FL: Center for Educational Technology, Florida State University. (National Technical Information Service, 5285 Port Royal Rd., Springfield, VA 22161. Document Nos. AD-A019 486 to AD-A019490)

Clark, D. (1995). Why Instructional System Design? Retrieved April 5, 2010 from

DeSimone, R. L., Werner, J. M., Harris, D. M. (2002). Human Resource Development. Orlando, FL.: Harcourt, Inc.

Dick, W., and Carey, L. (2004). The Systematic Design of Instruction. Allyn & Bacon; 6 edition

Gustafson, K., & Branch, R. M. (1997). Instructional design models. Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology.

U.S. Army Field Artillery School (1984). A System Approach To Training. ST - 5K061FD92

van Merriënboer, J. J. G. (1997). Training Complex Cognitive Skills: A Four-Component Instructional Design Model for Technical Training. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Educational Technology Publications.

Watson, Russell (October 1981). Instructional System Development. In a paper presented to the International Congress for Individualized Instruction. EDRS publication ED 209 239.