Academy for Total Performance Improvement FAQs


The Academy for

Total Performance Improvement


A coaching-based certification program for performance consulting 

  • For individuals or companies
  • Competency-based, criterion-referenced instruction
  • Performance-Based Certification
  • Scalable to any performance improvement effort:
  • Organization
  • Process
  • Performer/Job
  • Management System
  • Learning guided by expert-level feedback and coaching
  • Available virtually or classroom-based – work at your own pace
  • Flexible learning paths with sequenced learning designed to support practitioner on path to mastery
  • “Newbie-to-Expert” Learning


For inquiries, contact us.


What is the Academy?

The Academy for Total Performance Improvement (or The Academy, for short) is a coaching-based, criterion-referenced certification for professionals seeking an integrated approach to:

  • Organization Assessment
  • Process Modeling and Analysis
  • Human Performance Modeling and Analysis
  • Organization Modeling and Analysis
  • Management and Measurement
  • Performance Improvement

The Academy is a set of self-paced modules, structured to guide learners through developing a complete suite of skills for assessing, modeling, analyzing, and ultimately improving the performance of organizations, processes and performers.  The Academy is also a performance-based certification program.  A key differentiator of the Academy from other certifications is performance-based certification overseen by expert-level coaches.  Coaches do not merely sign off on module completion, they work with students individually to ensure skills are truly mastered.


What is the Academy content and how is it structured?

The content of the Academy is built upon the pioneering work of Dr. Geary Rummler in the performance improvement field, and the theory and tool base developed by the Performance Design Lab.  Only through the academy will you gain access to the full suite of tools, techniques and methods developed by Dr. Rummler and others.

At the first level of the Academy – the Practitioner Level – learners will develop a suite of skills enabling them to participate in modeling and analysis projects.  In the graphic below, you’ll see a simplified depiction of the structure of the Practitioner Level of the Academy:


simple curriculum


Each “box” in this graphic represents a collection of anywhere from 3-24 learning modules.  There are 44 total learning modules in the Practitioner Level. We estimate that a learner could progress through all of the modules with about 40 hours of effort. This suggests an average of an hour per module, but there is bound to be some variation. Learners go through the modules individually at their own pace.   The modules are intended to be relatively brief and to build on each other, starting with entry-level concepts and then graduating to more complex ideas and use of tools.  Additional time is required for coaching, feedback and taking of criterion tests.

What is meant by “levels” of the Academy?

The Academy content is actively under development, and the intention is to eventually offer three different levels of certification, as represented below:


academy levels


  • Practitioners will be capable of participating in modeling and analysis projects.
  • Consultants will master a full end-to-end improvement methodology (the Rummler Process Methodology) and will be capable of leading modeling, analysis, and redesign projects.
  • Architects will master the ability to deal with complex, variable and uncertain scenarios, and to coach other associates through the Academy themselves.

Currently, the Practitioner Level of the Academy is fully developed and available.  The 2nd and 3rd levels of the Academy are under development.  Learners who are interested in the 2nd (Consultant) Level have the option of taking it as a classroom course until the modular content has been fully developed.

How do learners go through the Academy content?

The Academy is a virtual, self-paced program.  A learner progress through it by completing modules, which may require him or her to read articles or sections of a book, watch a video or complete a series of learning exercises.  Upon completion of a module, the learner takes a criterion test.  An Academy Curriculum Manager reviews this test, provides feedback and coaching to the learner and determines whether the learner has mastered the module content.  In this way, the learner moves through each level of the Academy, while being coached and tested close to 100 times for key knowledge and performance of skills.

The Academy is also available to be conducted in classroom fashion, but participants still go through it at their own pace, with coaching from Curriculum Managers but in a face-to-face format.


How does the Academy content integrate with Lean, Six Sigma, or PMBOK (Process Management Book of Knowledge)?

The Academy methodology is in alignment with industry best practices such as DMAIC, but is uniquely structured to manage any kind of improvement initiative, not just those confined to the process realm.

Tools and techniques for process modeling and analysis, including tools and principles drawn from popular approaches to process such as Lean or Six Sigma, are taught at the Practitioner Level, in a context and learning sequence designed to help beginners best absorb these skills.  Learners with previous exposure to these concepts have the ability to test out of those modules.

Ultimately, learners with prior exposure to other process improvement approaches will see the tools, concepts and principles they are familiar with inside a structure that gives them flexibility to deal with any sort of improvement initiative.  Experienced learners will be able to make connections between their existing knowledge and the new skills they acquire through the Academy.  Learners with no prior exposure will acquire a framework for performance improvement into which they can integrate any additional knowledge of process improvement methods that they seek to pursue.  To read a white paper that gives more detail on the need for an integrated approach to performance improvement, please click here.


How does the coaching work?

The Academy staff has a cadre of highly experienced consultants who have led many improvement efforts and are available virtually as Curriculum Managers.  They provide advice, insights and the benefits of their experience one-on-one with individual learners who ask for help while trying to complete a module, and after a learner has completed a criterion test.

The coaching may be delivered virtually through video conference, chat or e-mail. It may also be given in person if the Academy is delivered in classroom format.


What does certification consist of?

There are two forms of certification.  A given learner’s document of certification will contain

one or both of these forms of certification:

  • The highest and most desirable form of certification is that of Field Certification, in which a learner participates in a real performance consulting project and submits the results of that work for certification. This can happen while the learner is participating in the Academy or for a period of time after completing the Academy modules for any level.
  • The other form of certification is Classroom Certification, in which a learner completes all of the learning activities and criterion tests for a given level and successfully completes an integrated certification test using a complex business case administered by PDL Curriculum Managers.


What are my purchasing options?

Tuition in the academy can be paid individually, as a group or as part of an organization license.  Academy fees are highly flexible, based on number of learners and other factors we are happy to negotiate with you.  Our prices are competitive with other certification programs.  In addition, incremental payment options are available to help fit budgetary constraints.

Contact us to discuss the options that best meet your needs.



Can the Academy be customized for our organization?

It is possible for a client to customize the Academy to some extent, as there are several optional modules in the Practitioner Curriculum.  For example, in the Process Modeling section is an optional module on BPMN (a popular approach to process modeling).  Some companies have adopted BPMN but others have not, so this module can be included or left out at an individual client’s discretion.

An organization with an existing improvement curriculum can augment or expand the offering by including Academy content.  PDL will gladly work with internal instructional design staff to ensure that Academy materials are properly integrated into programs that teach Lean, Six Sigma, or other improvement techniques.



Is certification included in the price?

Classroom certification is included in the Academy price. Field certification is an additional fee.


 For Inquiries, Please Contact Us.