Action Mapping By Cathy Moore

Everything You Need To Know About Action Mapping

It’s undeniable that Instructional Design is one of the key components that makes courses interesting using different methodologies. One of these is Cathy Moore’s action mapping, which is about cutting through all the design noise and getting straight to the important parts that lead to actual results. This model helps you create meaningful lessons that mimic real-life experiences, giving learners the opportunity to focus on activities that resonate with their skill development goals and gain practical knowledge. Let’s see a step-by-step guide to this model and find out how you can become a pro at action mapping.

6 Steps To Create Action Maps

1. Identify Business Goals

As an Instructional Designer, you aim to align your creations with the business’s goals, but to do that, you need to identify them first. You need to join stakeholders, upper management, and employees and brainstorm ideas about where the company is headed and what they want to achieve through the learning program. From workforce needs to budget, an Instructional Designer needs to be aware of every detail to craft the ideal program for the organization. This process will also help stakeholders understand their business better, knowing its dreams, strengths, and weaknesses as they move forward. Defining goals is much needed in Instructional Design, leading to more purposeful courses that actively contribute to business success.

2. Define Performance Objectives

This step involves breaking down the above goals into the steps needed to achieve them. These steps should be practical and easy to follow, indicating actions rather than just pieces of knowledge. For example, in the case of a sales team, to increase sales, you may want to identify the types of things they need to do to achieve this, such as explaining the benefits of your products over competitors’ to potential clients. Additionally, these performance objectives should be reasonable and achievable, allowing your team to track their progress and stay motivated throughout the process.

3. Spot Barriers To Performance

Designing lessons also requires you to understand and remove the barriers that might be hindering your learners’ performance. For instance, you’re designing a program for communication skills. You must then identify what causes the team to lack communication so as not to end up with a totally generic course that doesn’t resonate with the employees’ needs. That’s where you start spotting the issues. You can involve stakeholders in the process by starting conversations regarding the company’s daily challenges. Data is also your best bet, as you can use the metrics to get insights and valuable feedback.

4. Create Meaningful Activities

When it comes to training employees, it’s important to make sure they’re equipped with the skills they need to succeed in the real world. That’s where meaningful activities come in! These activities are like simulations or exercises that mimic real-life situations as much as possible so employees can get a feel for what they’ll actually be doing on the job. For example, if an employee is likely to face a certain challenge, you can create a fun exercise that will help them learn how to identify the problem and come up with the best solution. By providing these practical training opportunities, employees can gain confidence and feel more prepared to tackle any challenge that comes their way.

5. Choose Relevant Material

In this step, you need to understand what employees truly need to perform better. One great tip is to only provide the information that’s necessary to complete each activity. As Moore suggests, if the information doesn’t support the activity, then you may want to omit it. Of course, there might be some additional information that could be useful to them. For example, you might want to include your company’s history or other valuable resources. However, it’s a good idea to keep this information separate from the main training course. By following these tips, you can ensure that your employees have all the information they need to succeed without overwhelming them with unnecessary details. After all, the goal of training is to help them learn and grow, not to confuse them with too much information.

6. Design Assessments

In Instructional Design, assessments validate not only whether learners have understood the material but also whether they can apply it. So, in this step, you will have to go backward and evaluate each of the previous steps to see if they have grasped the learning goals as well as what they have to do to achieve them. You can present learners with scenarios that portray the real-life challenges they will encounter, and if you want to use quizzes, make sure they are asking the hows and whys to make them more thought-provoking. Lastly, don’t forget about simulations.


If you’re looking for a simple and efficient model to start designing courses, then action mapping is for you. If you follow every step, the model does all the work, from helping you identify learning roadblocks to motivating learners. Action mapping takes your Instructional Design process from generic to focused, addressing only what needs to be learned and aiming to provide purposeful and impactful knowledge.

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