Building a Design Firm'€™s Professional Development Program - Introduction

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For nearly three decades I have been designing and managing organization-wide professional development programs. Early on I figured that to reach high standards I should try to model my programs after some of the best in the business, so I would regularly pull ideas from different industry award program guidelines and applications. The various awards programs use buzz words and phrases like: Excellence; quality and total quality management (TQM); the customer is always right; best practices; and elite programs.

Over the years I have submitted my organizations for professional development awards. I have also served on jury’s, managed continuing education award programs, designed award programs, and trained jurors of award programs. What I discovered is that while the award applications, processes and criteria may be different depending upon who is offering the award, there are still common themes and practices between them.

Using the Baldrige National Quality Award and IACET as models, we created the AIA/CES Award for Excellence for The American Institute of Architects, Continuing Education System. This program was used as a cornerstone for building a national continuing education program that shaped education offered in the design industry. Today, other learning and development award programs such as the ASTD-Awards/Best-Awards and the Chief Learning Officer, CLOmedia Awards are also being used to elevate the practice learning and development.

As part one of an eight part blog series I have assembled common themes from these and other prestigious organizational award programs. Not all of the awards programs are specific to learning and development but they do reflect similar core values. Since award applications, structures and terminology differ greatly I have taken this opportunity to organize the core values that we found and used to create the AIA/CES Award for Excellence. The core values listed below are generic and can apply to many professions and industries.

Common core values that address the following:
* Commitment and support €”examines the firm'€™s educational commitment and support.
* Planning and analysis €”examines the firm’s structure for analyzing the educational needs and professional development of the professional.
* Design and implementation €”examines the program(s) goal setting, learning objectives, design, and delivery methods.
* Resources and records €”examine human resources and the record-keeping process.
* Evaluation and improvement €”examines evaluation and improvement process of the education activities.
The assessment guidelines that you can view in the remaining seven installments of this blog are intended to assist those individuals who are responsible for establishing and operating an Architectural/Engineering Design Firms’ professional education department. The recommendations are organized in a manner that should be used as general guidelines to establish, organize, and manage the organizational structure of the firm. This assessment tool is not intended for the design or development of any individual course, certification, skills or professional program.