My CCMP Journey: Reflections from a new practitioner…
Author: John Boylan, CCMP
I held my breath….I felt my heart beating in my throat… I paused for a moment and clicked submit. “Congratulations… you passed” were the words on screen. The testing room was completely silent – but inside, I was screaming with joy! My mind began to race. I looked up at the window at the top of the room… “I did it” I said to myself. “I achieved my goal.” As I left the centre, I texted my wife to share the good news. The rest of the day was a pleasant blur. On my drive home from my celebratory dinner with my wife, I stopped at a red light and pondered…. “How did I accomplish this?”
Completing The Assessment
Well… the email arrived in my inbox from the ACMP Vancouver president. “CCMP interested members’ discussion – March 29).” I was already intrigued… and now wanted to learn more about the application and exam process, along with any tips that can be shared. But first, I needed to do my own assessment to determine my readiness. This is a big commitment and I needed to be all in to reach my goal “obtain my CCMP.” Question one – what’s in it for me? I needed to be sure that there was true value to me, both on a personal and professional level, if I was to undertake this assignment. From the professional lens… being new to the field of change management, I am always looking for those learning opportunities to increase my knowledge of the practice. I attend all and any webinar/workshop that Prosci and ACMP can dish out. I participated in the pilot ACMP Vancouver Mentorship Program, attended the GlobalConnect 2021 conference, and enrolled in the Lean Change workshops. So it seemed only fitting that I take this next step in my change journey and challenge myself to write the exam to deepen my understanding of the discipline. From my personal lens… I am a strong advocate of any not-for-profit organization that takes the time and effort to develop well established standards/ethics for its members to help guide them in their work, while demonstrating to outsiders how these guidelines strengthens the profession that works towards others reaching their success. I thrive in helping others reaching and succeeding their goals…so there was no doubt in my mind… true value.
Question two – do you have the time to commit to this? I took a good look at what this would mean in terms of investment of my personal time to focus on studying. I prepared a “pros/cons” list and worked my way through. In addition to being able to carve out some time over the summer to dedicate to the cause, I received overwhelming support from both my wife and daughter – so it was now up to me. No excuses. Assessment complete.
Formulating The Strategy
My next step was strategize on how best to accomplish the feat before me. I had the vision. I imagined myself having completed the exam and receiving the designation each morning I woke up. Now I needed to determine my approach. I will need tools, a schedule, and continued encouragement from the professional community to guide me. Therefore, my first thought was to build a coalition of support from fellow colleagues who were in the same boat – and the ACMP Vancouver study group was the perfect vehicle. We started with a group of seven to begin discussing timelines. When were people feeling comfortable to take on this challenge – given other priorities going on in their lives? Conversations ensued… and after a few more weekly meetings – and through the evolution of osmosis (as life happens to us all… and people know when it’s the best time for them to undertake a commitment like this), we now had a party of four. Our next goal was to plan out how to tackle the application process which includes the 3 essay questions. We shared ideas on which questions each was going to answer, our rationales why, and then sought feedback and guidance on our approach from the team. I also reached out two other fellow change practitioners in the community to seek their invaluable feedback and guidance on my draft submissions as well. As I think back… this is a step that I would highly recommend for anyone who is considering going through the application process. It is great to have an extra pair of eyes to read your responses to ensure that what you are trying to convey within the 500 words limit is clear and concise.
In addition to prepping for the essays, we gathered all the supporting documentation we could: ACMP CCMP Handbook, ACMP CCMP Exam Flashcards, ACMP Test Specifications, CCMP Exam Question Sampler, and of course the ACMP Standard. Now it was only a matter of time to begin the work of studying itself. Over the next few Wednesday check-in meetings that followed, we shared back when each one became eligible. It was so great to see each one of us pass this historic milestone! Because each of us had our own targeted date to write the exam – and they ranged from the end of the summer (my goal) to the end of the year due to other competing priorities, unfortunately, our study group slowly disbanded. So I set off on my own to complete this mission that I was challenging myself to accomplish. But I knew… my study group team was just an email away, should I need their support.
Being a visual learner, who also retains information by writing it down, I needed to develop a tool to support me in learning this volume of information that I was to take on. Therefore, I set out to create my own tri-fold story boards. Each board was covered in coloured paper identifying both inputs and outputs for each of the five process groups. The activity of creating the boards and transcribing the information was another way for me to retain the knowledge in my learning. And I have to admit… the flashcards were a great tool for me to draw upon as well (thank you ACMP for preparing these in index format in the package!). Strategy in place.
Implementing The Plan
Now the time came to focus on the task at hand… study…study…study! I first looked at my schedule to determine how many days I had available. Working my way backwards from Sept 13th (my exam date – which I booked in June to keep myself accountable), I then planned out what each study period would look like. A very useful tool that I incorporated into my study plan was the ACMP Test Specifications. This document outlined the weighting of each section that would be on the exam. It allowed me to then structure my study time on those areas that had more weight – while ensuring I covered all of the material. My study time consisted of committing to approximately two hours each day during June, July and the first three weeks of August. Then, the remainder of the study period (end of August to Sept) was dedicated full-time. I booked vacation time during this period – as I knew I was going into the home stretch and needed to completely focus all my attention and energy. So, study I did. As the exam date approached, my confidence grew. I had invested considerable time to the effort (tip for those considering to write: there is a lot of material to cover; invest the time!) and I wanted to prove to myself that I was ready to meet this challenge head-on. The time had come. Ready to write.
Thinking back, I am so grateful I took on this excursion. First and foremost, it was an exercise that allowed me to gain professional knowledge and understanding of change management – a field I am passionate about. It empowered me to learn how to be more effective in driving lasting positive change for my organization and help them realize the benefits they are seeking to achieve. In terms of sustainability whereby the change is anchored and embedded into daily operations of the business – the learning I received from the Standard, and the document itself, has now become an instrumental resource that I have incorporated into my daily practice on both past and current projects that I am leading. Sustainment achieved.
In closing, for those who are considering to write the CCMP – I highly encourage you to do so. Not only do you get to understand and appreciate how the content within brings great credibility to the discipline – but you also get the opportunity to develop wonderful networking relationships with others in the profession who are on the same path as you – and that is an invaluable experience within itself. So go ahead…take on your own transitional CCMP journey to move to your future state. Wishing you the best of success!
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