Thursday, October 8, 2015

Professional Certification from a professional body we can be proud of? OR a revenue stream for a publishing, training and events company?

I heard some interesting but somewhat disturbing news today about the certification that I hold and support.

As regular readers will know I am a CPLP. A certified Professional in Learning & Performance.

One of the things that most attracted me to the CPLP designation is that to get certified as a professional in our profession required not just being able to answer (a ton of) questions about the field but you also had to submit an example of how you followed what is considered best practice in an actual piece of work you have done.

The Work Product submission is what set CPLP apart from other certifications that I’m aware of.  Getting a CPLP was something to be proud of because it was hard.

And there is the problem. It appears that an increasing percentage of candidates are failing the tough requirements of the CPLP Work Product. Unlike the standard in our profession there is virtually no feedback given to failed candidates and none is available. A candidate can give somewhere from 40-100 hours to preparing their WP submission and in return get a score broken down into the sub areas for their Area of Expertise. Ask someone at the CI about this and they will tell you that this is best practice in the certification industry and is done to ensure fairness and integrity. Ask anyone in the Workplace Learning & Performance industry and they will tell you that sucks!

So ATD was clearly facing a problem. They want this certification to be both respected and popular. I can imagine it would be a lot of hard work to achieve that. A long slog of hard work, showing very small incremental gains but that eventually could succeed. Sounds like  our lives in the industry. A professional body that truly represents the best interests of the members of our profession would have grimaced about this but gotten down and done the work.

But instead let us look at another model. Instead of thinking about ATD as our professional body, instead think of it as a company that sells 3 products. Books, Conferences and Training events.

A company like that would see a valuable potential revenue stream in certification fees, learning materials and training events that was being jeopardized by a rigid policy. The solution for that type of entity is simple, change the rules and make it easier.  Add in the driver of large corporate clients who are trying to get teams certified and so many are failing and you get an extra kick in the direction of sacrificing the integrity and respect that the certification has been very slowly getting to the gods of expediency.

“But ATD is OUR organization” I hear you cry! They wouldn’t try and sneak this sort of thing through without discussing it with their membership and other stakeholders. They  surely would have had extensive consultations with the CPLP community about replacing the Work Product Submission with something easier like maybe an online case study. They would have asked for input from credential holders about options before trying a pilot of one of those options. They would have reached out to their chapters, to hear the word of the professional on the ground about this. They surely will have learned the lessons on Change Management from the way they changed the organizations name without getting stakeholder buy-in and the bad blood that created.

They wouldn’t be so dumb again.

You would hope not.

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