MPI gets it right with the revised CMM program revision…. Almost….

MPI gets it right with the revised CMM program revision…. Almost….

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The folks over at the headquarters of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) are probably breathing a little easier now after Friday’s announcement of revisions to the revised CMM educational program that were released in December.  MPI leadership deserves credit for listening to the CMM community and responding to their concerns.  The leadership of many other organizations would have tried to avoid the protests of a small, vocal minority of its membership (MPI has over 20,000 members worldwide; there are only 900 +/- CMM designation holders).  That said, there are a few more tweaks I wish MPI would have done to the program.

Some Background:

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In the late 1990’s, MPI developed the Certification in Meeting Management (CMM) program to focus on the strategy and theory of meetings management.  Compare this to the Convention Industry Council’s (CIC) Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation, which focuses on the logistics and operations of the meetings industry.

A meeting professional could apply to the CMM program, having 10 years of industry experience and continuing education.  An essay would also need to be completed.  These would be reviewed by a peer group.  If accepted, the applicant would need to attend a 5.5 day onsite educational program.  These programs would generally be limited to approximately 50 applicants.

Within a week after participating in the onsite educational program, the student would need to answer a series of essay questions relating to topics discussed during the previous week.  If the student passed the essay exam, they would move onto the final portion of the program.

Students would have approximately two months after the onsite program to prepare a business plan to be submitted for review and approval.  During the 60 days or so it would take for the mentors to review the business plans, the student gets to worry, commiserate with fellow students and generally be a nervous wreck.

Finally, the student gets the scores for their business plan.  If they score a minimum of 110 out of a possible 150 points, they have earned the CMM designation.  If they earned 109 points or less, they have a month where they can revise, tweak and resubmit; however, they now have to earn 125 of 150 points to earn the CMM designation.

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I applied to the CMM program in 2010 and participated in the onsite program that October.  It was a great week – I came home with all kinds of ideas, met great facilitators (Eric Rozenberg, Dr. Tyra Hilliard & Paul Bridle, to name a few), and made great friendships and contacts. On February 7, 2011, I started getting emails from my classmates that they had passed.  After sweating and panicking for about an hour, I finally received my email that I had earned my CMM designation (Special thanks to my fellow Team Gold members – Cynthia, Cameron, Pieter, Mary and Jeannine – I could not have done it without you!).  I now enjoy meeting my fellow CMM’s at industry events and doing the “secret” CMM handshake.

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The times they are a-changin’…

On December 18, 2013, MPI announced a major overhaul of the CMM program.  The major revisions are:

  • The Certificate(ion) in Meeting Management is no more.  CMM will become a trademark and is not an acronym for the program.

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  • The CMM Designation program is now a joint venture between MPI and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).
  • Experience requirements are lowered from 10 years to 5 years.
  • The onsite educational program is reduced from 5.5 days to 3.5 days. 2 webinars and a 1 day boot-camp are added.
  • Industry experts will be replaced as facilitators with faculty from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.
  • CMM Conclaves will be held, starting in 2014.
  • The 80 holders of GBTA’s Strategic Meeting Management Certificate (SMMC) will be allowed to use the CMM designation.

MPI also announced that they had mistakenly used the terms CERTIFICATION and CERTIFICATE interchangeably when promoting the CMM program in the past.  A Certification program requires an ongoing continuing education component to maintain the designation, while a Certificate program is complete when the designation is earned.  The CMM program has no continuing education provision and should be referred to as a certificate.

Those that had earned the CMM designation responded negatively to these changes and were quite vocal in their displeasure.  Email and phone call campaigns were organized, news stories were planted in the industry press and social media forums had a good deal of discussion on this topic.

To their credit, MPI was willing to listen to the critics of the revamped CMM program.  Two open conference calls were held in mid-February and nearly 250 CMM’s participated.  MPI took this feedback to their partner, GBTA, and looked for ways to make changes.

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Happy days are here again!

MPI announced on April 4, 2014 that modifications would be made to the previously announced revamped CMM Designation program.  The highlights are:

  • Certificate in Meeting Management would still be used.  CMM would be an acronym for the program.
  • Required experience will rise from 5 years to 7-10 years of industry experience and 3-5 years of management experience with 2-3 years of profit and loss responsibility.
  • MPI will reissue Certificates of Meeting Management to all previous CMM holders.

Overall, the CMM community responded positively to this news.  I am happy with these changes and feel that this provides a fair and balanced compromise to folks on both sides of the debate.

But…

While I am happy with the announced modifications to the CMM program, I would have liked to have seen MPI go one step further…. Make the CMM program a certification and require continuing education.

Ideally, the CMM certification would be valid for 5 years before being renewed. Charge $50-100 to cover administration costs in monitoring the renewals.

Continuing education could have been earned three ways to meet the renewal requirement:

  • If the CMM holds a valid CMP designation at the time of renewal, CE requirements are met.
  • If the CMM attended a CMM Conclave in the 5 years prior to renewal, CE requirements are met.
  • Otherwise, 20 hours of continuing education (with documentation) would be required in the previous 5 years.

Many CMM holders already are CMPs, who are required to meet continuing education requirements to renew their designation.  Likewise, by having CMM Conclave attendees automatically become eligible for renewal, this will encourage attendance at the Conclaves.

There will probably be many CMM’s who would argue against the need for continuing education.  I, for one, believe that requiring continuing education shows dedication and commitment to our industry.  Our industry has had massive changes since the 1990’s, and a CMM should remain current with the trends.  Otherwise, that certificate is basically a lifetime achievement award…..

One last thing for MPI…

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As mentioned above, MPI will issue new certificates to those that previously earned the CMM designation. Many people spend thousands of dollars and hours of time and effort to earn those coveted initials.  The relaunched program is being branded as “the business standard of excellence for meeting and travel professionals,” so please make the certificates worthy of that marketing.  The current certificates look they are generic forms you get when you buy a picture frame.  Do you really need to have a line where the name, date and signatures go – do you see this on a college on diploma?

Having said all this, the CMM program is a very worthwhile educational experience and you should check it out.

My thanks to Jon Trask for inviting me on The Meetings Podcast to talk about this topic, which inspired this post.  You can listen to this episode of Meetings Podcast here.

3 Responses to MPI gets it right with the revised CMM program revision…. Almost….

  1. Excellent post Greg.

    As we discussed when we spoke last Friday, MPI make a solid effort to address the concerns of the CMM community with these changes.

    I do like the idea of continuing education and I think that many of us with the CMM would have no problem following some modest guidelines to assure we stay current within the industry. I think you should submit it to MPI as a suggestion (if you haven’t already).

    Thanks for coming onto the podcast to discuss the changes as well. As always, having you as a guest is very appreciated.

  2. Greg,

    I think you have done a great job both summarizing and laying out the issues. I concur with your assessment and appreciate MPI being responsive and reactive to concerns.

    Two comments came to mind:

    1-One thing worth more exploration: I understand that to be a certification rather than certificate, there has to be a separation between the group that offers the education and the one doing the testing/evaluation. Check it out at The Institute for Credentialing Excellence site: http://www.credentialingexcellence.org/p/cm/ld/fid=4

    I wouldn’t expect this would be a big challenge though, given the new involvement of GBTA and the new entity they created provides several options.

    Also, I believe there might be a few other requirements (in addition to the continuing education and separation mentioned above) to qualify as certification however I would strongly support this move as I understood that was what I earned and was quite surprised and disappointed to recently learn otherwise. I think most perceive a more robust education program when certification involved vs certificate.

    2-I can’t think many CMMs would be opposed to the ongoing education requirement other than cost of recertification (at times it can come across as a money grab so I think MPI would need to move cautiously there) as well as ease of tracking CEUs (some groups make it harder than others to track/collect records for CEU credits/hours). Otherwise, I suspect most of us continue to expand our horizons and would easily meet recertification criteria such as you’ve proposed and this would be a matter of administration.

    Aside from further exploring these two possible points, I concur with all you’ve stated and appreciate you giving a stage to the topic.

    I’d be interested to hear what other CMMs – and those considering the designation – think about it all.

    Best,
    Katherine (fellow CMM – 2008)

  3. As a CMP looking to obtain her CMM, I think that the adjustments that MPI offered were pleasing to see. I also like the idea of offering continuing education, with options for recertification. Maybe in time, MPI will see that this is the next necessary step to take to ensure all that hold such an elite designation are continuing to stay industry-savvy. I enjoyed listening to the podcast and look forward to seeing how the CMM program continues to evolve moving forward.

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