Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How Not to Fail CPLP Work Product - Part II: Find What's Hidden in the Handbook

In a previous blog post I emphasized that the key to preparing a successful CPLP® Work Product submission is to make sure you thoroughly read, understand, and can meet all of the ASTD Certification Institute's requirements. 

How do you do that?

In my previous post, I suggested you start by reading:

  • CPLP® Certification Handbook, Part 1, Program Overview
  • CPLP® Certification Handbook, Part 1, Appendix A - Program Agreements, Policies, and Fees 
These documents give a high-level overview of the Work Product submission phase and provide context for how this phase fits in the overall CPLP® certification process. 

However, these are not the only Handbook documents relevant to CPLP® Work Product.

You MUST also read the following documents in the CPLP® Certification Handbook, Part 3:
  • Introduction: The Work Product
  • Appendix specific to your AOE (Appendix I, J, K or L - Instructions and Forms)

Many candidates know to read the Appendix (Instructions and Forms) specific to their Area of Expertise (AOE), but then completely miss reading Appendices M, P, and Q:
  • Appendix M: Work Product Scoring
  • Appendix P: AOE Key Action List
  • Appendix Q: Scoring Rubrics

Why should you read Appendices M, P, and Q?

That's how you find out what's "hidden in the Handbook" - meaning, clues about what specific "additional evidence" you need to include in your submission and what level of quality is required for work samples in your Area of Expertise (AOE).

For example, Instructional Design requires you to write about and show evidence of how you applied learning theory to your training program design and development. 

What learning theories did you use? Can the Raters easily see those learning theories demonstrated in your work?

(See the Handbook screenshot below.)

Watch for footnotes and endnotes near the Key Action Categories table for your AOE (then refer to Appendices M, P & Q for details)

In Training Delivery, you must demonstrate evidence of informal learning in addition to formal learning.

Yes, much of your Training Delivery work sample is captured in your 3-part recording - where you demonstrate formal learning through facilitation - but how does your submission also demonstrate the informal learning methods you used to help participants transfer their learning to their jobs?

In Managing Learning Programs, the often overlooked developing others consists of a set of key competencies where you must demonstrate how you coached or mentored other team members (or your staff) and helped them to develop key skills.

What types of tools do you use to assess, communicate, and track developmental needs?

In Performance Improvement, you are required to show evidence that at least one of your selected interventions is effective in closing the performance gap

What do you have in your submission that demonstrates that at least one of your interventions is producing the desired results?

Go from Hidden to Unhidden - Making the Invisible Visible

Now that you have a small sampling of some of the "hidden" competencies to look for, the next step is then figuring out what the expectations are and how to make sure you demonstrate them in your submission - both in your words and work samples.

That involves reading multiple documents in the Handbook (all the ones above, plus I also suggest revisiting Appendix F, Part 2) so you can put together a complete picture of what's required for your AOE and, therefore, must be demonstrated in your submission. 

"You Only Have to Brush the Ones You Want to Keep"

That's what I tell young nieces and nephews when they ask if they have to brush *all* their teeth, *all* the time.

Same here with which documents to read in the Handbook.

You only have to read the ones that instruct you on how to pass CPLP® Work Product.

You've come this far. 

It's an awful lot of time and effort to waste if you fail this phase of CPLP® certification - the last step! - simply because you didn't follow *all* requirements outlined in the CPLP® Certification Handbook.

Need HELP?

Here at Owl's Ledge, we've developed a suite of products & services to help CPLP® Work Product candidates to be successful in this process - everything from Checklists, to an Online Course, to CPLP Work Product examples, to step-by-step guidance in how to respond to essay questions!

Owl's Ledge CPLP Work Product Schedule - How to Make it Manageable with Major Milestones
CLICK HERE to contact one of our team members for details on how we can assist you in finding the right tool to help you tackle your most challenging task!

To your success!

~ trish 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

ASTD Certification - What is the Key to Creating a Successful CPLP Work Product Submission? - ASK Trish: CPLP Work Product Candidate Q&A


Q: I'm starting to put my CPLP Work Product submission together. I have a lot of work samples ("evidence") and a lot that I could write about in my essay responses.

How do I make sure I put together a submission that meets the requirements the Raters are looking for?


A: It's a valid question, especially since CPLP Work Product is about OBVIOUSLY DEMONSTRATING your ability to apply the ASTD competencies to your work.

The Raters look for your submission to contain very specific elements; elements they have outlined on the Scoring Rubric they use to assess ("rate") submissions.

This means, as a candidate, you must create a very focused, cohesive submission that obviously aligns to ATD CI requirements; a submission the Raters can easily read and score in less than 40 minutes.

That is the KEY to a successful CPLP Work Product submission, it:
  • is easy to read
  • is easy to rate
  • obviously meet requirements

Great! Now, HOW do you do that?

A successful submission requires you to know WHAT the Raters are looking for (see the CPLP Certification Handbook for the "WHAT"), and then to understand HOW to apply it to your submission.

I teach CPLP candidates how to apply the CPLP Certification Handbook ("Handbook") to their submission using a step-by-step, systematic approach in the Owl's Ledge CPLP Work Product online course

The first assignment I give candidates to do helps them visualize their entire submission. 

I do this by reconnecting them with the "BIG PICTURE" for their Area of Expertise (AOE) using a Mind Map. 


Candidates often need to be reminded of the competencies that make-up their AOE; the very same competencies they were tested on as part of the CPLP Knowledge Exam.

Once you are reminded of - at a high level, end-to-end - what competencies are in your AOE (and, therefore, need to be demonstrated in your submission), then you can determine what work samples ("evidence") to include and what, specifically, to write about in your essay responses.

The Key to creating a focused submission: 

Understand what your whole submission needs to contain before you even begin the process of putting the pieces together - e.g. compiling work samples and writing essay responses.

Get started by drawing a Mind Map of your AOE.

Drawing a Mind Map helps you visualize the BIG PICTURE of your submission. 

It follows the "begin with the end in mind" adage - by visually representing what the end result should look like.

You can then refer to your Mind Map while you're creating your submission, to make sure you are focused on the right things (words and work samples) as you go!

Here's an example Mind Map I created for Training Delivery to illustrate:

In my Mind Map above, I grouped the Training Delivery Key Actions according to the Training Delivery Key Action Categories. I also color coded each category to make the groupings even more obvious.

To read my Mind Map, start by looking at the blue boxes on the right and then read clockwise all the way around to the red boxes on the left. 

It's an easy visualization, from start to finish, of all of the (high level) elements a candidate must include in a Training Delivery submission.

Makes it easy to see, yes?

Now - try applying this mind mapping technique to your Area of Expertise.

You'll benefit in two (2) critical ways:
  1. You'll have an illustration, like the one above, that you can reference as you put your submission together to make sure you're focused on what matters most.
  2. The very act of creating a Mind Map stimulates your brain in a way that facilitates comprehension and retention. Just the act of drawing the Mind Map will help you better understand your submission.
(Even if you're a Training Delivery candidate, draw your own Mind Map, instead of just using mine. You want to stimulate your brain too!)

BTW - the free online tool I used to create this mind map is:  www.mindmup.com

Yes, this is one of many techniques and shortcuts I've created to help candidate really connect with CPLP Work Product expectations.

What are some of your tips and tricks?

Share them in the blog COMMENTS below!

To your success!

~ trish 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

ASTD Certification - 4 Steps to Preparing Your CPLP Work Product Submission - ASK Trish: CPLP Work Product Candidate Q&A

CPLP candidates often struggle to make the CPLP Work Product submission process manageable, especially in the midst of many other competing priorities to attend to - such as work, family, friends, and other commitments.

Recognizing the difficulty many candidate have in getting organized and getting focused, I developed the Owl's Ledge 4-Step Process for preparing a CPLP Work Product submission.
I created the Owl's Ledge framework while I was still a CPLP candidate myself during the CPLP Pilot (2005-2006).

It was during this inaugural pilot program that I also started supporting my candidate peers through the certification process - and I haven't missed a cohort since!
Over the years I've refined my CPLP Work Product preparation framework by using it to help learning professionals from all over the world to be successful in the CPLP Work Product phase of the CPLP certification process.

Owl's Ledge 4-Step CPLP Work Product preparation process:

  1. Strategic Planning
  2. Project Work
  3. Writing and Assembling
  4. Packaging and Shipping

I know, I've been there! 

After several months of diligently preparing for the CPLP Knowledge Exam, your Work Product submission becomes the only thing between you and achieving the CPLP designation --

You're ready to get it over with and - FINALLY! - join the CPLP community!

Plus, who wants to fail this part of the assessment process? 

Failure often feels personal and delays achievement of the CPLP by at least another 6 months.

The video below is a recording of an actual session I facilitated - with real candidates! - in the last cohort.

In this session, I introduce CPLP candidates to my 4-step framework.

Note: The ASTD Certification Institute (also known as ASTD CI or ATD CI) radically changed CPLP Work Product requirements as of April 1, 2014. My framework continues to work, even with the changes, but you'll hear me use a couple of old terms in this recording.

Some changes in terminology since this session was recorded:  

  • CPLP Candidate Bulletin is now the CPLP Certification Handbook ("Handbook")
  • Form A essay questions renamed "Project-related Narrative Responses" (see Handbook)
  • Form B essay questions renamed "Performance-related Narrative Responses" (see Handbook)


I hope my 4-step preparation process helps you to separate your Work Product submission into manageable "chunks" so you can get organized, get focused, and GET DONE!

To your success!

~ trish
p.s. If you like the framework and want to learn how to further leverage it to improve your submission and your chances for passing the CPLP Work Product, consider joining other candidates in my CPLP Work Product online course.

Seats are limited and this class - where I'm focused on helping candidates meet their CPLP Work Product August 2014 deadline - is almost full! 

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

ASTD Certification - How to Stay Motivated thru CPLP Work Product? - ASK Trish: CPLP Work Product Candidate Q&A


Q: "Begin with the end in mind"....I wish it was so simple..CPLP Work Product is a tough nut to crack...need some heavy dosage of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation :)

Any ideas on how to stay motivated?!


A: Yes!

Work Product (any AOE) is a very "tough nut to crack" which requires candidates to "begin with the end in mind" and demands both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation!

Some thoughts on how to stay motivated:

* Connect with Why - now is a good time to reconnect with why you started down the path of CPLP certification. Think about your WIIFM - what's the Big Picture? Consider the ultimate goal that CPLP is meant to help you achieve - is it accomplishment? promotion? affiliation? personal achievement? 

Whatever your reason for pursuing CPLP, write it down. Keep it handy to remind yourself - especially over the next few weeks as Work Product challenges you in unexpected ways.

* Connect with Others - I am privileged to work with a lot of CPLP candidates all over the world, to guide and advise them - and to cheer them on! 

I've been a candidate myself; I've supported candidates through the process since the CPLP program started, but there is nothing better for candidates' moral support than to connect with other candidates in their own cohort. 

To interact with folks who are going through what you're going through, as you go through it - together.

Study groups are not just for CPLP Knowledge Exam; they're GREAT for CPLP Work Product too!

On a very practical note, CPLP candidates can share CPLP Work Product examples with each other and review each others' CPLP Work Product submissions. 

It's always helpful to have "another pair of eyes" review your CPLP Work Product submission, not only to proofread, but also for clarity.

Trish Uhl with CPLP delegates at PETRONAS Leadership Centre | Putrajaya, Malaysia

At Owl's Ledge, we spend a lot of time in our online course putting candidates together to review prior examples and each others' work; in an effort to help them bond in this way.

I HIGHLY suggest CPLP candidates continue to connect online - and offline - so you can learn from and encourage each other.

CPLP Work Product is a REALLY tough phase of the certification process - often much more difficult than CPLP Knowledge Exam!

In fact, ATD CI currently reports the CPLP Work Product pass rate as 65.3%.

Those can be tough odds to beat, if you're focused on achieving CPLP certification this year - especially since you only have this one chance! (The next CPLP Work Product deadline isn't until February of next year.)

Keep good people close and keep your focus on what your end goal is. :-)

To your success!

~ trish

~ Trish Uhl, PMP, CPLP
Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) since April 2006!

Don't be left out! 

>> Owl's Ledge CPLP Work Product online course starts soon!


Thursday, July 03, 2014

ASTD Certification - What if I don't have all the necessary work samples? - ASK Trish: CPLP Work Product Q&A

Q: My challenge is pulling together the documentation that supports the project -- emails, project plan. The company where I did the my project work was acquired and I was laid off. 

My main contact and her direct reports - that I provided consulting services and ultimately project deliverables to - are also no longer with the company. 

I have all the project work -- programs I facilitated, an action plan -- but I don't have the emails (and other communications) to leadership that show my thought process and the ultimate project plan.

Is this going to be a problem? If so, how might I overcome this hurdle?


A: Unfortunately, you're describing a common situation many other CPLP candidates have faced -- you have many (if not all) of the "performance-related" work samples, but little (or none) of the "project-related deliverables."

Yes - this gap is a MAJOR barrier to your submission's success.

The short answer is: You are REQUIRED to include BOTH kinds of work samples in your submission. To not do so means not meeting CPLP program requirements, which translates into your submission being disqualified or failed.

The #1 way to know whether or not your project is appropriate for Work Product submission is to determine whether it meets ALL CPLP Work Product requirements or not.

If it does meet requirements, then you're off to a good start.

If it does not meet requirements, for any reason, then it's not the right project.

Here's how you can assess your project against requirements:

* Review the CPLP Certification Handbook for all of the Key Actions for your Area of Expertise (AOE). Keep in mind - you MUST obviously demonstrate these Key Actions in your submission - through your words and work samples.


* Create a table (matrix). List out all of the Key Actions for your AOE in one column, then list the evidence you have for each in a second column.

If you have gaps, you may have problems - depends on how severe the gaps are - and which materials are missing.

For example, with Performance Improvement (PI) you MUST provide evidence of how you identified customers and other stakeholders; understood their needs; determined their decision-making authority; and built and sustained relationships with them.

KA9 alone reads: "Demonstrated sufficient and relevant knowledge about the business in communications with the client."

In this example, if you're submitting under PI and you're missing communications from meetings, reports, emails, discussions, etc. then you can immediately see the gap.

It's not enough just to articulate to the Raters (via your essay responses) something you cannot produce evidence of, regardless of the reason why you can't produce the evidence.

You may find that you need to submit a different project - one that you have all required work samples for that demonstrate all requirements.

I know reading that can sometimes be disappointing, but at least you can plan for it and make choices (e.g. wait to submit, submit another project, submit and take your chances, etc).

To your success!

~ trish

~ Trish Uhl, PMP, CPLP
Certified Professional in Learning & Performance (CPLP) since April 2006!

Looking for more CPLP Work Product tools, techniques & tips? 

Get some specific help by following my systematic, step-by-step approach for creating a successful CPLP Work Product submission!

My online course CPLP Work Product course starts soon!