From late 2017 until the spring of 2018, I was pleased to be engaged by CMC-Canada to help update one of the core documents that defines our profession – the CMC Competency Framework. Why an update? Well, the previous framework was created in the late 90’s, and had a mild refresh in 2005 – and the expectations of our clients and the dynamics of the industry have changed significantly since then.
Other Institutes worldwide have updated their competency frameworks to reflect these changing industry dynamics, and the National board deemed that it was the right time to update ours. The result is a Framework that describes the competencies that distinguish CMCs from consultants who do not have the designation.
One of the challenges of creating a competency framework for a profession is the diverse nature of professional practice. Most approaches to developing frameworks are essentially task-based, and unfortunately there isn’t a step-by-step playbook for management consulting – or for any other profession. The key to creating the framework was to capture the essence of professional practice, which is the use of professional judgement on how to apply specific technical knowledge in a manner that generates valuable results for the client.
We took advantage of recent developments from Europe in the field, notably the “Communicating Professional Competencies for High-level Occupations” project that created a comprehensive approach to developing professional competency frameworks that are descriptive and evidence based, but recognize the wide variation in practice and the need for individual practitioners to use professional judgement in the optimal way to deploy their specialized skills on behalf of the client.
Professional management consulting isn’t about a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to client problems, and the professional consultant is anything but a one trick pony. We worked very hard to ensure that this was reflected in the updated framework.
I was very fortunate to have the support and expertise of a group of experienced CMCs and FCMCs from across the country, who collaborated to create the final deliverables. Many hours of work and some really deep and thoughtful discussions with these individuals have led to a very comprehensive Framework.
This new Framework is divided into a number of “competency clusters” that encompass the range of professional practice, including:
1. Business Competence, which refers to the application of fact-based knowledge of technical skills, business understanding, sector insight, and external awareness. This cluster is subdivided into two competence classes:
A - Client Business Insight, which is the set of discrete competencies that allow a CMC to understand the client condition in the context of the client’s operating, regulatory and competitive environments; and
B - Consulting Business Insight, which is the set of discrete competencies pertaining to the business of consulting itself, and the manner in which consulting services are marketed, procured and delivered. It may include matching resource requirements to client needs, sourcing resources (either internally or externally), and managing those resources in the context of the engagement.
2. Technical Competence, which refers to the core consulting skills, tools and techniques used by consultants to deliver professional service to clients. This cluster is further broken down into two competence classes:
C - Functional Specialization, which is composed of the blend of competencies related to business, management, and sector/industry expertise that consultants bring to an assignment; and
D – Engagement Management Skills, which describe the competencies which consultants employ to manage client engagements and deliver consulting services.
3. Values and Behavioural Competence, which refers to the blend of professional values and skills that enable consultants to deliver results for clients now and into the future. They establish credibility and trust, leading to superior results. This cluster is broken down into four competence classes:
E- Ethics and professionalism, which is composed of the discrete competencies that reflect a consultant’s professional conduct and ethical behaviour,
F- Analytical skills, which describes the competencies for decision-making, problem solving and innovation/creative thinking that allow the CMC to deliver advice and solutions tailored to the client situation,
G- Personal interaction skills, which describe the set of competencies that allow the CMC to work effectively with others, and
H – Continued Learning and Development, which describe the competencies that allow the CMC to continue to learn, grow and develop their skills in the service of their clients and the profession.
For each of the competence classes, the framework identifies the types of evidence and performance expected at three different levels – those who are developing their skills, those who are at the level required for certification, and those who are clearly above the level required.
In addition, and significantly, the new framework identifies continued learning and development as a key competence of CMCs – this will inform the development of a revised CPD program moving forward.
Other next steps include a review of the current certification program and practices, and our current education and training requirements, against the updated framework, to ensure that all of the competencies are being adequately trained and assessed. This work is scheduled to be completed this fall, and modifications to our practices to bring them into line with the new framework should be completed by the end of 2018.
It’s been a real pleasure to be involved in the creation of the framework, which I believe is the cornerstone of our profession; I hope this revised framework will add to the value proposition of CMCs in a highly competitive consulting marketplace.
About the Author
Jeff Griffiths, FCMC is the co-founder of Griffiths Sheppard Consulting Group in Calgary, and a senior Fellow at the Canada West Foundation. He is a member of the Workforce Forum for the North American Strategy for Competitiveness (NASCO).
Jeff’s practice focuses on talent management strategies, and the critical role of competency as the key to sustainable organizational performance.
His path began in the Canadian military, and has continued in the private sector in the aerospace, systems engineering, manufacturing, natural resources, utilities, and supply chain sectors. Some of his recent work includes initial redesign work for the Canadian Career Handbook, work on micro-credentials and digital badging, stackable credentialing in vertical talent streams, transferable skills, and integrated national competency frameworks. Contact Jeff: firstname.lastname@example.org