During the last week PMI announced that, based on the feedback they had received from stakeholders, they would be delaying the significant changes to the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification exam which had originally planned to be launched in mid-December 2019 to July 1, 2020.
When I first read this, I felt a burst of vicarious relief for those exam candidates who were likely experiencing a lot of stress with the original date.
I have no doubt that this was the right decision for PMI to take.
The proposed changes to the exam are likely to be more significant than others made over the past decade. With the last batch of changes to the exam having been implemented in March 2018, a significant update within two years will not only cause candidates angst but will also reduce the return on investment for the study materials which training companies would have so recently updated.
After further reflection I realized there are some good lessons in change management with this decision:
- As a not-for-profit association, stakeholder satisfaction may be more crucial to PMI than if they were a for profit entity, but regardless, they have been very proactive at communicating both the rationale and the scope of proposed changes even though these announcements were likely to upset certain the stakeholders. Often, while considering a disruptive change, our temptation might be to avoid communicating anything until there is a full understanding about the impacts but that usually won’t give stakeholders sufficient time to react to the information.
- They were open to hearing negative feedback about the changes. It’s easy for leaders to say that they are willing to hear criticism about a change they have championed but much harder to take it when it happens.
- PMI decision makers were willing to make a change late in the game for the right reasons. I’m used to seeing leaders’ appetite for change drop drastically as a proposed implementation date draws near. This makes sense as change deliverables need to be sufficiently stable before a launch date, but if there is evidence that the benefits of sticking to a date will be outweighed by the impacts of a premature launch, leaders should be willing to accept some near term embarrassment in order to realize a more sustainable outcome.
I have no idea who was the decision maker at PMI who pushed for this delay to the launch date, but this demonstrates the sort of good judgment which we should demand from change leaders.