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Cynsie Kraines

COO and SVP Leadership Development
Levinson and Company

 Be Taught, Transform, Teach! 

To earn a certificate in requisite organization design and management training is to receive a document that verifies attendance at professional development training.  This can be done in a public workshop led by a senior consultant or academic clinician or delivered as an internal course often led by the org design project’s external consultant to an intact work group.  The certificate indicates that the attendee is prepared to go back to work to discuss with his/her manager which concepts and methods might be appropriate to implement, or in the case of the intact work group, these discussions could occur within the course format.   It does not imply skilled knowledge sufficient to implement them effectively.

To earn certification is to receive a document that verifies one has been tested and found able to apply the concepts in the certified competency effectively.  

Train-the-trainer is one such type of certification.  The individual is tested not only for understanding and ability to apply concepts included in a three-or-five day seminar, but the ability to teach them effectively to colleagues in his/her organizational setting.

An Example

The Levinson Institute, Levinson and Co’s training division, has developed a train-the-trainer program in accountability-based organization design and management to certify graduates assessed to be competent to teach the concepts to others.  The T3 certified graduates then train groups of 20 to 30 managers from their organization in Levinson’s copyrighted three-day Principles of Accountability Leadership program.

Through 2015, Levinson has conducted several train-the-trainer programs and certified over 25 trainers in four different companies.  They estimate that those certified trainers have, in turn, trained well over a thousand managers and employees in their respective organizations (based on count of notebook royalty fees paid.)

To achieve a high probability of success in the certification program, we recommend that participants meet the following criteria:

  • Currently hold managerial or staff roles at requisite organization strata III or above (that normally corresponds to senior Manager or Director level) and be Mode IV or above in cognitive ability (which is capable of applying systems thinking in their work)
  • Enroll in pairs – one an HR professional and the other a manager or staff from operations

Note:  To achieve best results in rolling out the training in the organization, it is our practice to pair HR professionals with operational managers to clearly send the message that this is a business initiative and not primarily an HR activity.   The pair complement each other in terms of understanding the application of the principles and what systems will be impacted by working in this new way.

Steps in Certification
To achieve certification, each T3 candidate completes the following steps:

  • Completes a five-day program on accountability-based organization design and management
  • Completes a comprehensive written exam (open book) about the program content and demonstrates an understanding of the principles as applied to his/her own role and that of his/her managers, subordinates and cross functional peers.
  • Receive exam grades along with extensive comments regarding accuracy of answers
  • Completes a one week practicum which begins with a review focusing on areas that were weak on the exam
  • Demonstrates the ability to deliver the content in key lectures that are video taped, to answer questions with appropriate context, and to describe how each piece fits into the whole system.
  • Reviews their video tapes with faculty and other trainees and critiques their own style, approach, and language consistency
  • Receives feedback from staff and other participants

At this point some people are dropped from the program if they show they cannot answer questions and understand the whole.

  • Teaches colleagues in two three-day sessions, in concert with a second trainee, first one-half of the modules and then the other half.  Both sessions are audited by Levinson faculty.  The participant receives and discusses, at the end of each day, all of the auditor’s observations, concerns and kudos for things done right.  

A great deal is expected from the potential trainers in terms of language accuracy and consistency.  Trainers must demonstrate that they understand the application of the concepts to business issues that are raised by participants.  They must demonstrate a deep understanding of the whole so that answers to questions are consistent with material that is yet to come.

After being audited in delivering a full program, each trainee is judged to be certified or not.  When the client organization followed the Levinson faculty recommendations in choosing their T3 participants, the average success rate in the certification process is 95%

The Business Case for Train-the-Trainer Certification Programs
Certification programs can be tailored to meet an organization’s needs and conditions.  One general scenario is given here.   Several variables can affect the costs and feasibility of such programs including total number of employees to be trained, years that the training program is to be used, and geographical distribution of employees,

Given the costs and economies of scale of such a program, the benefits generally outweigh the costs when: 

  • the organization wants to demonstrate ownership over the management principles by having its own staff deliver the program (as opposed to external consultants) and then retain a permanent internal expertise and train employees over a period of years
  • the organization wishes to train more than 400 employees 

Total Time to Complete Certification
Elapsed time (versus actual time required for each phase) varies by organization and the number of T3 trainees they select and its ability to schedule their supervised teaching programs required for certification.

Cost of Certification 
As seen in the table above, the total cost per T3 trainee is the Strategic Organization seminar tuition plus six to seven days of the Levinson faculty per diem fee plus direct expenses.

The Levinson copyrighted notebook royalty fees are typically discounted based on the numbers of managers and employees the client organization intends to have its T3 trainers teach.

We have not offered public train-the-trainer certification in the past, but are open to providing Levinson and Company certification to work-levels-based and other management consulting groups.

Overall benefits of a train-the-trainer certification program to larger organization design project success:
The projects are implemented

  • faster
  • more effectively
  • with higher engagement
  • more sustainably
  • at lower overall cost than if external consultants delivered the trainings
  • with major residual benefits to the company

Levinson and Company Experience / Scale
We have delivered RO-based Train-the-Trainer programs for over fifteen years and have over 25 trainers, who have in turn trained several thousand managers and employees.

Comments and Questions Welcome

Please share your own experiences, tips and questions about train-the-trainer programs related to organization design and management below in the discussion area.

Professional associations & universities that support and / or co-market society conferences

 New York City, USA

IBM International


The Argentine Human Resources Association

The European Organization Design Forum


Canadian Association of Management Consultants

Human Resource Professionals of Ontario

Human Resource Planning Society

An institute for advanced human resources professional development

An association of academics, business users and consultants headquartered at Aarhus University in Denmark

A USA based association

A Toronto-based association of advanced HR practitioners 


An Argentine Society for Quality Improvement


The Argentine Society for Training and Development

The Argentine Human Resources Association

Federation of Human Resource Associations in Latin America 

The Buenos Aires Technological Institute

An professional association for public service employees in Canada

Consulting firms that provide financial support


A management consulting firm in Toronto, Canada



Forrest and Company, Toronto, Canada


A global network of associate consultants headquartered in Toronto Canada



Toronto, Canada

















Toronto, Canada

Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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