A certification in change management: a step in the right direction

For several years now, I’ve been closely involved in the recruitment of change management advisers. I must admit that I’m always surprised to see to what extent some people think a good dose of intuition and improvisation is sufficient to branch out into this great profession. And again and again, I see how the term expert in change management is trivialized.

Of course, the profession of change management adviser has evolved over the past decade. Increasingly, we recognize that a good adviser must master several key skills. She must have business acumen and a thorough understanding of managerial issues. She must also be knowledgeable about change management models and approaches. These models and approaches structure the activities to be carried out and help understand people’s reactions in times of change. She must also have experience in project management, communications, training, and organizational development. Finally, she must demonstrate qualities of leadership, diplomacy, negotiation, and influence. And so, intuition and improvisation are far off the mark.

But there are still too many out there who think that change management can be spearheaded by people with minimal practical experience and who improvise as experts in change management. That’s why organizations such as the ACMP (Association of Change Management Professionals) in the US and the Change Management Institute (CMI) in Australia have begun developing change management certification programs.

Based on comprehensive and rigorous approaches, their aim is to develop a body of knowledge in change management to support and consolidate the knowledge and skills required by professionals in the field. For example, ACMP’s approach involves the following steps:

  • Compiling an inventory of the requirements of businesses that hire advisers (internal) or consultants (external);
  • Drawing up an inventory of best practices through surveys and group discussions with experts from all over the world;
  • Developing an universal knowledge base (without regard for a methodology in particular) and standards in change management;
  • Developing an evaluation method towards obtaining a certification (similar to a certification exam in project management or PMP);
  • Validating a globally-recognized evaluation method to be used across all continents;
  • Qualifying firms responsible for training and preparation for certification;
  • Implementing the certification program.

This confirms the seriousness of such an approach. The ensuing certification program should be available sometime in 2014 or 2015.

Will this turn change management professionals into better advisers? Well, yes and no. Such an approach will certainly provide a beneficial filter for the profession, which is based on a systemic expertise that requires various skills. The industry-recognized certification will also help employers hire the most competent resources and avoid recruiting applicants unable to do the actual work.

A certification won’t solve everything, but it’s surely a step in the right direction.
To get more information about the ACMP certification, go to www.acmpglobal.org.