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The new Change Management certification – 3 months on

Special thanks to guest author Ranjit Sidhu, Director at ChangeQuest Ltd. Follower her on Twitter: @ranjit_sidhu


The updated change management certification was launched 3 months ago. I thought I’d share with you some reflections and observations, from running this course with five very different groups.

Based on the feedback, the two key things that seem to make this course so valuable are also what make it challenging, and help to really stretch people in building their confidence with this material. These key attributes are:

  • It covers a wide breadth of best practice change management theory and practices, based on what professional change managers need to know and do to bring about lasting change.
  • It offers a wide range of applicable tools, techniques and checklists without being prescriptive or setting out a pre-defined method for managing change.

There is a lot of content that is covered on this course, that’s for sure. Delegates say it can seem daunting when they first receive their copy of the Effective Change Manager’s Handbook, the source book for this qualification. That’s when it really hits home that this is going to be an intensive course and it certainly helps to prepare well by completing the recommended pre-course study.

The content covered aligns with the body of knowledge for change management – which came about from several years of research from the Change Management Institute. It incorporates topics from different disciplines such as organizational development, the social sciences, and project and programme management.

The course covers both the people and the process or delivery aspects of change. From the people perspective, it looks at what causes resistance and anxiety, along with motivation theories for supporting individuals through change. How different types of organizational cultures emerge and are propagated is also considered.

And the process or delivery aspects look at different approaches and models for planning and implementing different types of change.

There is a fairly equal mix between change management theory, and practical tools and ideas to implement. The more practical elements of the course include:

  • Assessing the impact of change
  • Getting ready for change
  • Developing stakeholder management strategies
  • Communication and engagement
  • Reinforcing and sustaining change

Typically, delegates on courses have said they enjoy and get a lot from the practical aspects and exercises. They say there are a lot of theories and models to learn, and for some it can feel heavy going at times. But knowing the theory, helps them understand how the practical bits come into play and how best to apply them.

It builds a solid foundation of change management know-how and equips people with a rich toolkit for managing change. They can draw on the wide range of tools, techniques and checklists as needed, for whatever type of change that comes up for them.

The course intentionally does not lay out a prescriptive, detailed set method, instead it offers a high-level overall framework that can be adapted. The nature of change can vary so much, along with the complexity involved when dealing with people impacted by change.

So it just isn’t practical to try and manage every change in the same set way. It depends on factors such as the type of change, the culture that you’re working in, the wider organizational context and constraints, the extent of the impact on people and so on.

At times it’s tempting to look for a set method or process to follow – ‘tell me what to do and I’ll do it’. Especially when there is heaps to do and tight deadlines are looming, or when people have been used to working in very structured, process-oriented environments. The wide-ranging change topics can all seem a bit ‘loose’ and unstructured at first. Until we get to day three or four of the course, when all the pieces start to slot into place and the bigger picture becomes clear.

Every course is different because people bring their own stories  – and these all add to rich discussions and deeper insights about the material. It’s people’s contributions and sharing of their experiences, that make these courses such a rich learning experience for us all.

When I first started on this journey I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. From being a part of the team who wrote the change management body of knowledge, then contributing to the Effective Change Manager’s Handbook and using that to produce this version of the certification – it has been both daunting and exhilarating along the way. I thought the journey finished 3 months ago, when this course was launched, but that’s not the case at all. The more I work with this material the more I appreciate the richness of it and just how much more there is to it. So the journey is still very much on-going.

You can hear more about the background to the Effective Change Manager’s Handbook, how it came about and how it relates to the change management body of knowledge, from the Chief Examiner Richard Smith, in this video.

Posted in Exams, Qualifications.

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2 Responses

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  1. Craig Nenke says

    I am a colleague of Georges and like him I have run a number of courses in the old format and in the new. George has taken the lead on change management training at UXC and has developed it into a very high demand course – so his feedback is very important for APMG.

    I agree with most of the feedback from George and Matt but also would like to make some other points:
    * Even though I mention this many times during the course, people don’t seem to want to read the textbook thoroughly. Whether this is text-phobia or because we provide them with many other materials I’m not sure. There are always a number of exam questions that require quite in depth knowledge of the text.
    * Large groups can be challenging in this course. I’m talking 16 or 17 people in one course. I feel the whole experience is more suited to smaller groups where discussion can be had in one or two breakout groups and people can become more familiar and open up more about their experience. With four or five breakout groups – it becomes a drain on the time when reporting back and people are much more easily distracted.
    * I must admit the last few exams that I have run – some people have been challenged to finish in the allotted 40 minutes. I don’t feel that this stuff should be a speed test – I see no harm in making it 50 minutes instead. One minute per question is easier for students to understand as well.

    Overall though, the broad array of knowledge we present in the course is very beneficial to most. It gives a great grounding in the concepts of change management and really of our working life. I am proud to be part of the fraternity that teaches (and learns) this course. Lets keep spreading the word!
    Craig Nenke

  2. George Sloan says

    Thanks for your very good reflection summary Matt. I am a member of the CMI in Victoria , Australia and delivered the previous version of the APMG CM Certification. I have been engaged in the process from the beginning and have enjoyed seeing it evolve into the new training course. I too am on a enjoyable journey with this material.
    I have now facilitated 4 new courses and have several coming up. Some thoughts so far are:
    # The text book is easy to read and insightful. Worth reading all of it not just the parts for the exam.
    # The course structure is good but I am experimenting with moving more of the bigger picture frameworks up front as I agree with your comment about people feeling a bit over loaded with models before we hang it on framework
    # The exam questions are more user friendly than they used to be. However I know that but the new participants don’t ! and there is still some anxiety about the complexity of the questions in the Practitioner exam – Plenty of practice questions / exams is the key to prepare and also serves as a most effective recap in the learning process
    # I believe a lot of the learning and reflection occurs after the course as people are tuned into what they observe in the workplace after such an intensive session. Without re-encountering the theories in real life it is hard to retain them. Therefore I believe coaching and mentoring afterwards is a key to embedding a change culture in any organisation.
    # Our clients like structured approaches . However, there is now a growing discussion about ‘lean Change’ . I believe that will grow, similar to Agile PM, and it assumes people have some underpinning knowledge about Change Theory !

    So, I think this new APMG CM Certification is worth doing for lots of reasons.
    Best Regards
    George Sloan