The Benefits of Becoming ASP Certified

By Randall Rollinson

When you compare strategies between businesses, you’ll find that no two are exactly alike. Each business is trying to accomplish something another isn’t – ­­however large or small the differences end up being. This fact could lead you to believe that a strategy professional’s talents are unique to each business too, with no transferable skills. But, when you look into the process of how each business decided upon and ultimately committed to a strategy, they often look quite similar.

The good news is that if you’re unsure how to correct or improve your business’s strategy, the formulation and implementation processes can be taught. In fact, there are certifications you can earn that signify you’ve earned a significant level of expertise in business strategy. Additionally, these professional strategy certifications give you the confidence to walk into any organization and improve their overall strategy.

Due to the growing trend of professional credentialing and certification of strategy professionals being relatively new, some strategy professionals are unfamiliar with the Association of Strategic Planning and their certifications. If you find yourself in that camp, there are plenty of reasons why it’s a good idea to consider getting ASP certified. 

Credentialing in Strategic Professions

The argument for credentialing has already taken place in many other professions. For example, auditing firms looking for a qualified accountant make sure they hire someone with a CPA certification. Accountants aren’t the only positions that require special credentials; it’s also standard practice for project managers, civil engineers and registered nurses. In each of these fields, the credential indicates an accepted standard of expertise in the industry.

Until very recently, no professional association had developed a “Body of Knowledge” to certify a base competency level among strategy professionals. In fact, the actual practice of strategic planning hadn’t even been summarized and defined into a true body of knowledge against which professionals can be fairly tested. Our friends at the Association for Strategic Planning (ASP) set out to change this back in 2008 and today have published a practical body of knowledge for strategic planning and management.

ASP believes that by developing and approving a strategic planning and management body of knowledge guide the profession will advance in three ways:

  1. Establishes a common framework, language and operational process on which a refined body of knowledge can be debated, refined or reshaped and then improved again and again. Every effort is being made by ASP to create a base framework, boundary definitions and certification program, which, together, serve as a starting point for this journey.
  2. Clarifies not only what certified strategy professionals need to “know,” but also what they must be able to “do.”
  3. Encourages growing acceptance by the academic and management communities across the private, public and nonprofit sectors.

The body of knowledge ASP established is now gaining growing acceptance amongst the professional community.

Why Get Certified?

The Association of Strategic Planning put plenty of work into creating strategic planning professional (SPP) and strategic management professional (SMP) certifications, but why do you need them? Assuming you have or desire some stake in your company’s strategy, getting certified provides you with a sureness in your strategic management abilities that you can consistently fall back on in these times of rapid business change.

If you’re a strategy professional who hasn’t gone through ASP training and certification, then you likely learned much of what you know on the job. When you learn strategy this way, you tend to understand the parts that solve the initial challenges you faced in the position. But those initial challenges are only one aspect of the whole job. How do you learn that other solutions may be more relevant than the ones you used to solve those initial challenges? You learn by understanding the full scope of methods and solutions at your disposal.

Achieving ASP certification is a signal to the world that you know what you are doing in the field of strategy. Earning the designations of SPP or SMP after your name symbolizes that you understand the entire process of strategy management and not just the surface-level solutions.

The certification doesn’t just change how you’re viewed in the professional world; it changes how you view yourself. Holding inner confidence that you know the best practices and methodologies in the field is powerful. Demonstrating that you meet the required competencies to attain the designation is a personal achievement deserving of respect.

In addition to developing your own strategy know-how and confidence, everything you learn from earning ASP certifications can be applied on the job immediately. If your business has found itself in a weakened market position, the certification provides you with the blueprint for how to adjust your business strategy accordingly. ASP distilled a practical body of knowledge for a reason: it works.  

When you earn your certification, you learn how strategy fits into the business on a deeper level. Armed with this insight, you can become an indispensable part of your company’s team.

How to Prepare for the Certification Exams

The ASP certification exams are rigorous and will challenge everything you know about strategy. It’s recommended that you prepare before you sit down to take it.

Our upcoming course, Strategic Management Performance System Live Online, is the only online course dedicated to providing excellent insight and preparation for the ASP certification exams. The live/online course, which starts April 19, is taught by me, President of LBL Strategies and Vice President of Operations, Doug Maris. I’m a founding board member and current President of the Chicago Chapter of the Association for Strategic Planning. As a certified Strategic Management Professional, an ASP Pioneer and an ASP Registered Educational Provider, I’ll share insights into the strategic management and certification process. Doug has over twenty-five years of executive leadership and strategy experience. He is a certified Strategic Management Professional.

The course is taught live/online, and participants can ask Doug and me any question to help them prepare for either of the two certification exams.

The course covers material on both ASP certifications: Strategic Planning Professional (SPP) and Strategic Management Professional (SMP).

Ready to take your strategic management abilities to the next level? Click here to get all the details on the course, which begins April 19th, 2017.

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