Alistair Lowe-Norris is the leader of global strategy for Adoption and Change Management at Microsoft. He's also a Certified Change Management Professional™ (CCMP™), Prosci Certified Advanced Practitioner, and Prosci Certified Advanced Deployment Leader. Read the interview below to learn why he completed two Prosci Advanced Certifications and what value they bring to his work at Microsoft.
Can you tell me more about your role and what you do at Microsoft?
I look after how Microsoft grows its internal capability for adoption and change management, and how we engage directly with customers and partners on change management. I have been part of Microsoft since 1999, and the majority of my work has been internally growing things at Microsoft, whether they're software products, external customer services, or new businesses entirely.
I've been involved with change management for nearly two decades, working both externally with customers and internally at Microsoft. I've been in change management for almost 15 years and change management is where my heart is.
You were the first person to obtain both the Prosci Certified Advanced Practitioner and Advanced Deployment Leader designations. What drew you to the Prosci Advanced Certifications?
First, the Advanced Certifications require you to show that you broadly understand not only what change management is, but how to apply it in specific situations. They require rigorous reading, deep research, practical successes and failures, and an ability to reflect on all of that to show growth and maturity as an individual. That kind of self-reflection and broader research and education is what allows you to grow your competence. In addition, the options within each certification allow you to tailor your education to your needs and the needs of your organization. I saw that as a fundamental value.
As both a Prosci Certified Advanced Practitioner and Advanced Deployment Leader, how do you describe the difference between these two certifications?
First, here’s how they are similar. As someone who has a master's degree, I can tell you that both certifications require the same effort and investment as a master’s. These certifications are comprehensive and detailed. They include a significant amount of feedback, coaching and guidance that allows you to grow throughout the whole process.
They're also different. Having the Advanced Practitioner certification shows that you know how to apply change management on a variety of diverse projects. That you can scale up, scale down, and use the right set of tools for the right needs of a customer, client or organization. It shows that you have that level of advanced understanding. Not academic, not all theoretical, but actual, practical examples of when it has and hasn't worked.
Having the Advanced Deployment Leader certification shows that you understand the difference between running one project and multiple projects, and creating a change management capability inside an organization that creates a competitive advantage. Building up a capability, staffing a change management office, thinking about governance, creating a training program, embedding it in ongoing systems—all of this is fundamentally different than running change management for a normal project, and this certification equips you to do it.
As someone who holds a CCMP™ from the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP), as well two Prosci Advanced Certifications, how would you say these credentials complement each other?
First, I want to be clear that there is huge value in all three of these certifications. Given what I know now, I would do it all again. The CCMP™ is a fantastic globally recognized credential that shows you understand the ACMP Standard for Change Management© and can practically apply it. It requires completion of qualified change management training, such as the Prosci Change Management Certification Program, as well as demonstration of years of change management experience through essays, plus completing an exam on the Standard. As I said earlier, the Advanced Certifications are master’s-level curriculums that are really an investment for an organization.
If you are a practitioner who wants a certification that shows you understand the ACMP Standard for Change Management, independent of any methodology or company, it is a no-brainer to get your CCMP™. If you are an organization or individual that is heavily investing in change management or in Prosci as a methodology, it is similarly a no-brainer to invest in the Advanced Certifications so that you can leverage the huge diversity of IP and content and use it in the right way.
Why did you want to pursue both the Advanced Practitioner and Advanced Deployment Leader certifications?
Well, look at what Microsoft is doing. We're running change management on projects, and we're also running enterprise change management to build the capability inside Microsoft. I wanted to invest in myself, but more importantly, I wanted to be able to do change management better at Microsoft.
That’s an important point. These might be individual certifications, but they are actually organizational investments. These certifications help increase the chance of your organization seeing the results that you want. That’s why Microsoft is investing in them. They allow us to leverage the coaching, feedback and best practices from Prosci in the work that we’re doing. Prosci acts as a catalyst here, helping us progress through our initiatives and make things happen faster and better than if we'd done it without their help. The level of ongoing coaching and feedback is an organizational investment that is absolutely worth making.
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