10-08 Facilitator Certification PDF Print E-mail

August 2010 - The FoCuSeD™ Facilitator eNewsletter

by Gary Rush, IAF CPF



On September 17, 2010, the Chicago Professional Association Conference, sponsored by IAF, PMI, IIBA, DAMA, IMC, and BAA, will focus on industry certification and what it means to your career.  It’s timely given that I have received a number of inquiries regarding Facilitator certification.  I will be presenting and I wanted to set the stage by briefly reviewing Facilitator Certification.


Industry-Wide Facilitator Certification


The only certification widely recognized in the Facilitator industry is the IAF Certified™ Professional Facilitator (CPF).  (An IAF Certified™ Professional Facilitator (CPF) is a credentialed Facilitator who has demonstrated evidence of meeting the IAF Core Facilitator Competencies.)  You can only get this certification by applying to the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) and passing a practical evidence-based assessment.  (See Becoming an IAF CPF on our website for additional information.)  This remains the industry standard as it is based on a practical assessment against 6 defined IAF Core Facilitator Competencies and is completely independent of facilitator style, training background, or technique used.  It assesses practical competency (i.e., evidence-based) and requires that a Facilitator have facilitated at least 7 workshops within the past 3 years.  Those achieving the IAF CPF must be re-certified every three years showing that they have maintained their IAF Core Facilitator Competencies and continue to practice facilitation.  There are over 800 IAF CPFs in over 35 countries today.  (This is the only certification that is accepted by many agencies and organizations. The Canadian Government requires a CPF before being hired as a Facilitator.)


The International Institute for Facilitation (INIFAC) is an association that confers a Certified Master Facilitator (CMF) designation.  Five IAF members created this association and certification in 2003 out of a desire to have a higher level of certification than the IAF CPF certification.  The IAF did not pursue this certification because of insufficient demand and a need to roll out the IAF CPF program first.  This association and certification is not widely recognized.  As of March 2009, they had fewer than a dozen people certified.  (There is discussion as to whether this certification is a higher level or just a different take on the same facilitator core competencies.)


Specialized Facilitator Certification


A specialized Certified ToP™ Facilitator (CTF) exists for those who have completed all of the Technology of Participation (ToP™) training and have demonstrated competency in various areas.  To become certified, a ToP™ Facilitator must not only complete the curriculum, but must also be independently assessed by the ToP™ Training Network.  This specialized certification is often obtained in addition to an IAF CPF designation.  It is currently meaningful to members of the ToP™ Training Network.  (The IAF is investigating the possibility of incorporating this as a specialty certification under the umbrella of the IAF CPF program because of its independent evidence-based assessment.)


What Does Certification Mean?


To be meaningful, certification means that one has not only learned the required skills to be called a professional in the field, but has also demonstrated a level of achievement in his or her abilities – i.e., evidence-based.  This means that to be certified, you must be assessed and you must also demonstrate experience in the field.  Professional industry certifications have enhanced careers because they have helped define professions and the required skills.  (Achieving a professional industry certification means that you can rightfully claim to be a professional in that field.)


What this means to you


Before professional industry certifications, one could be a project manager, business analyst, or facilitator simply by naming yourself as one.  That self-certification demeaned the industry as people with little or no experience or knowledge of the field could claim to be professionals.  Clients – both internal and external – wanted to know that someone they hired had the required skills to do the job in a professional manner.  That’s where professional industry certification comes in.  It provides an independent assessment of competency thus elevating the value and credibility of the profession.  Clients now know better and are demanding professional industry certification.  (For example, being hired as a project manager without the Project Manager Professional (PMP) certification is becoming more difficult.  Project management is viewed as a serious profession with well-defined skills.  Professional industry certification adds credibility and value to your profession and acknowledges the effort it took to become a competent professional in your field.)


Certification versus Certificate of Completion


Be wary of trainers who claim to certify those who attend their classes – this is misleading.


I have been training Facilitators since 1985 and have been providing Certificates of Completion that only certify that one has attended and completed the class.  I do not certify Facilitators and never have (not as MG Rush Systems nor as MGR Consulting).


I have seen a CFF designation (presumably Certified FAST Facilitator).  This is a self-certification and it is not recognized in the professional industry.  I have never certified anyone as a Certified FAST Facilitator (CFF).  (A CFF is actually a secondary designation for a CPA, it means Certified in Financial Forensics, and is unrelated to facilitation).


Certification is only meaningful when it assesses competency (not completion) and is conferred by a recognized, independent industry association, such as the IAF.  (This is true of all professional certifications – a recognized, independent industry association (e.g., IAF, PMI, IIBA, DAMA, IMC, or BAA) must confer the certification.)


Training – Get Trained


While training is not required to become certified, it is highly recommended because being self-taught, you generally miss out on understanding and demonstrating the required professional competencies.  (Those who facilitate without having been trained often make too many mistakes, which affect the outcome, develop too many bad habits, which hinder the process, and lack sufficient tools to deal with participants and reach consensus.)  Our core classes (The FoCuSeD™ Facilitator Academy and FoCuSeD™ On…) cover and teach the IAF Core Facilitator Competencies, giving you the necessary skills for the IAF CPF assessment once you have facilitated the required number of workshops.  logo