Efforts to apply Design Thinking to Instructional Design fail when they try to force fit Design Thinking concepts into the ADDIE process or visa versa.  The front-end of ADDIE (analysis and design) is where Design Thinking is most useful. It can help to break through listless approaches to learning design and replace it with user empathy, collaboration, and a more creative spirit.

We’ve created a Learning Design Sprint process inspired by Google Venture’s innovative Sprint methodology.  The process combines Design Thinking and front end instructional design in a team process to kick start a creative learning solution in 5 days or less. It produces a design blueprint and learner validated prototype which are used as a guide to develop the entire program.  It dramatically reduces the time to develop complex workplace programs and significantly increases innovation and impact.

A small committed team is guided through a process that begins with a deep understanding of learner experience and on the job performance needs, progresses through the design of authentic practice activities and learning resources needed to support the practice.  With this framework the team generates a creative learning solution to meet the need. A prototype of the solution is prepared and tested with real learners.

The output of the Learning Design Sprint is a high-level design and supporting prototype. The process favours prototype development over extensive design documentation that often fails to communicate with the same power as a prototype.

Here’s a quick overview of the process. Click the image to download.

Here’s a more detailed summary of the process.

Learning Design Sprint FAQ


If you’d like to discuss how you might use the process on your next design project, let us know!


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This blog contains perspectives on the issues that matter most in workplace learning and performance improvement.  It’s written by Tom Gram.

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Recent Posts

Practice and the Development of Expertise (Part 3)
August 9, 2018
Practice and the Development of Expertise (Part 2)
August 6, 2018
Practice and the Development of Expertise (Part 1)
August 5, 2018
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June 10, 2018
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November 12, 2013

Popular Posts from the Archive

Here are some popular posts from Tom’s former blog, Performance X Design. Some older posts contain inactive links and unedited formatting while they wait impatiently for him to update them.