What you need to know about change management training, courses and programs
Possibly the most common question I get asked is “what training or course do I need to do to get into change management”. And for a long time there has been stock standard answers that I’m not sure I’ve always agreed with. In my heart of hearts I don’t think training programs turn you into a change manager or should give a newbie the keys to the proverbial Ferrari to rip up the transformation highway at full tilt. Here’s why.
The differences between accreditation and certification
Accreditation is issued by professional bodies
When we talk about Accreditation we typically mean something issued by professional bodies to verify that the member has attained a certain level of expertise based on their membership framework and/or body of knowledge.
Accreditation implies a level of expertise and it is not something appropriate for newbies (in my opinion). Personally, I am a major advocate of accreditation because it indicates that the practitioner’s skill levels have been assessed in terms of knowledge (body of knowledge and methodology), as well as their ability to practice at the standard prescribed by the accreditation level (having had to submit examples of managing change in real life), and has been through professional referee checks as part of the accreditation process. There is also an expectation that the practitioner maintains a level of professional development for the accreditation to remain ‘current’.
Change Management Accreditation is offered through the Change Management Institute (CMI) and the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP). Both institutes’ accreditation programs align with their respective standards of practice/body of knowledge and require practitioners to demonstration books smarts (exams/essays) as well as street smarts (submitting a portfolio of practice and/or responding to a case study) backed with street cred (referee checks).
They both charge for the accreditation, require currency of membership, and accredited practitioners are required to maintain a professional development ‘learning diary’ to demonstrate that they have achieved a certain level of professional development points for their accreditation to remain current (along with the accreditation renewal fees are various intervals).
Here’s the catch
The issue with change management accreditation in Australia is that the accreditation programs (and the professional bodies for that matter) have quite limited brand recognition in broader industry and it’s not something that is often asked for during a recruitment process, or something our clients/organisations expect of practitioners as part of their professional development.
While I would personally like to see this change, what I’m about to say is likely to be unpopular but I’m going to say it anyway: there is a bit of sense within the industry that there is more work that needs to be done to align accreditation programs to the relevance of contemporary practice before it will have the same recognition and credibility as the accreditation programs in adjacent industries.
Certification typically refers to training programs that issue a certificate of competency in whatever topic they are training.
Accredited vs non accredited training
This answer is very much from an Australian context so I would love you to add any international perspectives in the comments below!
Accredited training is a vocational education and training (VET) accredited course has been assessed by ASQA as compliant with the Standards for VET Accredited Courses 2012 and the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).
It often is offered at a higher cost and is typically linked into recognised prior learning (RPL) with industry accreditation programs. This is not the case with Change Management but is most certainly the case with the Project Management and the Australian Institute of Project Management for example. I explain this more below.
Non-accredited training although can be freaking awesome as a program that has been developed by an individual or organisation that may or may not be a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) i.e. are not regulated. The costs and content is not regulated per se.
Methodology certification such as Prosci’s Certified Change Management Practitioner, PCI Change Management Certification and the Agile Change Leadership Institute’s Agile Change Leadership Certification are all technically non-accredited programs from Australian Qualifications Framework perspective, however are considered the basis of certification in the change management profession AND the certification must be delivered by the respective organisation. There are very few certified trainers, be very aware and cautious if you’re seeing these programs offered at really ‘cheap’ rates, they will not be the real certification programs (and are in breach of the licensing agreements from the respective organisations i.e. stealing copyright! It’s just icky. Don’t do it).
In Australia, this isn’t really a straight forward response because a lot of change management courses are embedded into undergraduate and post graduate programs. A lot of them tend to have a very theoretical basis rather than practical application, and are very strongly focused on organisational change management. I’m going to write a separate post about this one because a few lines isn’t going to do the topic justice. And in all honesty, if you’re thinking about post-grad studies, you’re likely well on your career path as a changie and looking for more than the basics we’re talking about here.
Unpacking what is accredited training
In Australia, accredited training is associated with Australia’s VET sector. We know this type of certification as Certificates 2, 3, 4, Diplomas and Advance Diplomas most commonly done through TAFE. However, VET courses can be facilitated through any Registered Training Organisation (RTO) that are accredited by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (the national regulator for Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) sector).
To my knowledge there are no ‘accredited’ change management courses offered in Australia. I vaguely recall that there was a push by an organisation about eight years ago to do VET-accredited courses but last time I looked there is nothing recognised through the VET system. If there is something, please let me know in the comments and I’ll update the post.
Please be aware that being a RTO requires registration and compliance activities that are governed by the Australian regulator. A vocational education and training (VET) accredited course has been assessed by ASQA as compliant with the Standards for VET Accredited Courses 2012 and the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). The certification must be issued by a RTO which should be ensuring that the instructor meets the regulatory requirements to facilitate/instruct the course. If you’re interested, there’s more about the whole process here.
So now what courses should you do?
I’m going to try and be an impartial as possible here… I have some very strong views about training in our industry which I’m more than happy to discuss. For the purposes of this article I’ll do my best to minimise my opinion and strongly recommend that you check out the community reviews. If you also have experiences with these programs, please share your thoughts in the courses page’s comments/discussion section. If I’ve missed something, why not recommend the program and we’ll include it on the Hub’s Courses section.
Up until last year the standard recommendation for change management training / certification courses were:
- Prosci’s Certified Change Management Practitioner
Prosci by far has the largest market share in Australia and the Americas. It is a propriety methodology and this program is three days, taking the participants through how to deliver change management initiatives using the Prosci-specific methodology, models and tools. The facilitators are typically practising change managers and they have all gone through a lengthy (and expensive) certification process with Prosci to be able to deliver their program. Since COVID they are now offering the same program in a live-virtual format. The course fees include a stack of printed course materials and a year’s access to the Prosci Portal. The Prosci certification is recognised as part of the knowledge components of the CMI and ACMP accreditation programs.
- PCI Change Management Certification
People Centered Implementation (PCI) is also a propriety methodology and their program is three days, taking the participants through how to deliver change management initiatives using the PCI-specific methodology, models and tools. The facilitators are typically practising change managers. Since COVID they are now offering the same program in a live-virtual format. The program fees include a really funky course materials pack and a year’s access to RoadMap. The PCI certification is recognised as part of the knowledge components of the ACMP accreditation program.
- Lean Change Agent
Lean Change Management was the brain child of Jason Little and the education piece spun out of his book Lean Change published in 2014. It started as a two-day program that takes you through agile, lean startup and design thinking. This has turned into a global following and huge community! There are a handful of accredited trainers in Australia that offer the public in-person and virtual programs as well as there being a self-paced online program directly through Lean Change. Course fees include copies of the book and a year’s access to the digital course materials and Lean Change Management Network (paid online community).
- APMG’s Change Management Foundations and Practitioner programs
APMG’s programs were probably the first methodology agnostic-ish training programs and were developed around the Change Management Body of Knowledge. APMG have licensed the program and it’s delivered by a number of affiliates. The program duration and support formats vary between providers however you’re typically looking at 2-3 days for the foundation level and about the same for the practitioner. Rightly or wrongly there are also providers that bundle the two programs and run the two back-to-back over 5 days. This program was designed in collaboration with the Change Management Institute and directly aligns with their accreditation framework.
I will spell this out a bit more: this program aligns with CMBOK which was written a number of years ago now and is awaiting an update. This program offers a traditional approach to change management and I would recommend you read the reviews before making a decision if this is the right program for you.
In very recent times we have seen our industry start to explode with new ideas and new courses emerging that capture the evolution of the change management practice as well as offering people extremely practical programs to get new practitioners up and running as well as giving more experienced practitioners a bit of brain stretch.
- Agile Change Leadership Institute’s Agile Change Leadership Certification
This is an Australian-developed program written and delivered by veterans and thought-leaders in our industry. The Agile Change Leadership Certificate is for anyone who leads a team and needs to lead change during volatile times. The content covers the domains of agile, change and leadership. It is brain-friendly and delivered via micro-learning online video modules and experiments that can be done either on-line or offline. You have 12 months access to the site, and you can do the assessment anytime and anywhere.
- Fundamentals of Influencing Change at Work by Enclaria
This is a live online course facilitated by Heather Stagl. The program runs for 11 x 2 hours weekly live sessions and covers all things change management and how to make them work. It is methodology agnostic and has been assessed by ACMP to cover off the knowledge requirements of their accreditation program. The catch if you’re in Australia, this is an American course and the session times are bit brutal. Heather knows this and we’ve heard a rumour that there are plans for an Australian-friendly cohort time in the near future.
If you’re super new to change or thinking about a career in change, check out the Getting Started for Newbies section on the Hub. Also think about starting with something like a short courses / workshops to get a feel for what the work in like. The suggestions below is far from exhaustive; if you want more check out the Courses section.
- Change Essentials The Art of Change Management Online Program is a self-paced program designed by industry veteran and thought leader Lena Ross. The program compliments her Change Management: The Essentials book and includes some cool tools and techniques to get you started for a few hundred dollars.
- Casa de Cambio also run regular Introduction to Change Management webinars (paid) that gives you an awesome snap shop of everything you wanted to know about change management and gives the opportunity to ask any questions on your mind.
If you think I’m missing something, let me know in the comments or recommend it and we’ll add it to the Hub.
…and if you want to talk to humans about it all before you make a decision come to one of our Hanging Out For Change events or get in touch with us at the Hub–we’re always happy to have a chat about change 🙂
Over the last decade Lesleigh Ross has been leading project and change teams in complex delivery environments and transformation projects across public, private and not-for-profit sectors.
Leigh is highly skilled in industry best practice methodologies and frameworks which is demonstrated through her ability to deliver quality business outcomes across ‘green fields’ and recovery projects and programmes.
As a ‘digital native’ Leigh believes delivering innovation in business is only possible through collaborative project design where the business and technical teams work hand in hand. A geek in her own right Leigh is able to “degeek the geek” and facilitate effective engagement through all stages of project delivery.
Leigh is a the part of the leadership team and founding member of the Change Community Hub and a proud member of the Australian Institute of Project Management and the International Centre of Complex Project Management. She is active in her local community and national interest groups which are focused on improving the professionalism, diversity and inclusion within the project management community.
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