ATD Blog

A Simple Process to Aid in Complex Organizational Change

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The ADDIE model is one of the first frameworks many instructional design students learn. The analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation steps allow L&D practitioners to better understand their learners and their challenges, create course objectives and select the best media for courses, and—after going live—determine whether courses met those objectives. The ADDIE model can be adapted to remedy organizational challenges or gaps.

In “Guide Organizational Change With ADDIE,” Eric Nalian explains that, “Making the transition from using ADDIE to create a learning course to using ADDIE to implement organizational change is all about a mindset shift: Focus on the desired outcome and then work backward. Your process starts by determining where the organizational gap is. It ends when you fill the gap and evaluate the process.”

What does this look like in practice?


When using ADDIE to foment a change initiative, begin by studying the current state of the organization. Consider such things as culture, engagement, organization mission, and resources. Your client will offer ideas as to what they believe is the organizational gap—it is your job to consider what related materials you need to analyze at the macro and micro levels.

Among the areas are team structure, employee profiles, whether employees believe they have the resources to do their jobs, and common behaviors or attitudes. Survey stakeholders at all levels of the organization and compare how the organization fares in comparison to other businesses of the same type across the nation or globally—in such areas as employee engagement, for example.



To design the foundation for the change, consider not only the training that needs to occur but also communication and leadership development issues that may relate to or affect the organization gap.
Nalian writes that one part of the design step is the articulation—that is “the inter-relatedness of various parts of the change plan.” How will the change be implemented? Via learning, a communication change, a policy update? Given the change, will the organization be able to grow and expand?



It’s a good idea to offer your client a few different solutions based on resource level. Will you suggest job aids or more robust online training course? A communication strategy to improve morale and engagement, perhaps a simple one that lasts six weeks or a more in-depth one that extends throughout the year? “All companies big or small are plagued by varying communication, training, and leadership issues,” Nalian points out. The amount and type of communications among employees will be a factor in engagement. Organizations and employees need continuous upskilling today probably more than ever. Many learning initiatives relate directly to communication skills, as these capabilities drive business continuity, innovation, and organizational effectiveness. Furthermore, leadership exists at all levels of the organization, regardless of title. It is critical that leaders buy in to the change initiative you are offering and are esteemed enough to draw others into going along with the change.


Much thought needs to go into marketing the change initiative. Indeed, Nalian suggests likening it to a marketing campaign. Employees need to understand the change process and be motivated to go along with it—whether it’s to enroll in a training program, adopt new behaviors around a procedure shift, or follow a new organizational vision.


This is where the rubber meets the road. Is your change initiative successful? The evaluation method you choose will be based on the objectives of the change. This may entail the communication reach, engagement statistics, customer service ratings, or employee knowledge.

About the Author

Patty Gaul is a senior writer/editor for the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

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