Sunday, March 23, 2008


This evening this nobody went to read his favorite blog -- you know, the one that nobody reads -- and I went to leave a comment on his post. He was talking about IT certification, outsourcing, etc. I went on and on. And decided to make it a post of its own over here. Because, it's long, and this ties in to so many things -- many of which I'm sure I haven't covered... but I think faster than I type, even faster than I read, so I didn't get it all. But here's what I got:

It's about a lot of things. It's about avoidance of responsibility. It is built on the idea that you can bypass the need to understand something, even going so far as to ignore the value of said understanding.

If I hire somebody who is "certified", my rear end is "covered" if it doesn't work out. "Hey, I hired a certified System Administrator. What more do you expect?"

And so we find one more thing that Morgan and I have in common. We are problem solvers. We have had jobs that were basically "outside the box" jobs that our CIO's didn't really understand, and it made them nervous. But we also had some smart people in our organizations somwhere between us and the CIO that did recognize the value of a general problem solver.

I've never been "certified" in anything save for the two bachelors degrees I have and hey, maybe you want to count the high school diploma, too... that's a certification.

But any more, "certification" means you sat through a course -- and, depending on the quality of the instructor and/or the training company, you were simply able to regurgitate what the instructor said ... and sometimes not. Sometimes it's just sitting through the course. Here's your paper. Such courses can open cognative doors for someone who understands things and builds his worldview on understanding things rather than memorizing things. To those who get by on memorizing things, it's just a hoop and a badge for jumping through said hoop. When's the bagel break? Is there gonna be soda this afternoon?

I don't have that job anymore. I liked it. I was like a one-man swat team. People would come to me with problems they couldn't solve and say, "can you do this" ... and I'd think for a minute and almost always say "yeah". And I'd find a way to get it done. Sometimes I'd just verbalize a plan and others did it. More often, I did it myself, or did something that others then improved on.

Then I got a widget boss, who wanted everything counted and how much time did you spend doing this and what training have you been to this past year and what are your goals -- all things practically impossible to articulate for someone in the position I was in -- at least to someone who wanted to show their value by showing their boss how many widgets his department made in a department that did not make widgets.

So I bailed.

I now have a job where I don't get to do much of that. In many ways it's boring. I don't get to play McGyver much -- and that's my favorite role. The skill set I had in what I leaped to was not as extensive as the skill set I had to deal with the problems brought to me in the previous job. I jumped in, sank deep, and only now am I beginning to see the surface of the water 3 years later. But I've been able to do the job because I know stuff in general, not because I'm certified in anything.

I talk to tech support folks on the phone, and maybe 1 in 5 of them (if you're lucky) seem to have the skills it takes to model a problem and try to come up with a solution. The other four are reading from "if this, try that, if that, try this".... which only gets you so far. Most non-trivial problems are going to have a "this" which isn't listed in the decision tree, and then they're just stuck and in these cases I end up solving the problem on my own more often than not.

It occurs to me that this is the way progressives want to run the world. They want all the problem solvers to map out their decision trees so nobody has to think and everybody can be "cross trained" to do anything by being handed a knowledgebase.

Knowledgebases are cool and useful. But they are no substitute for problem solving skills, and problem solving skills aren't something you can objectively test for.

Ahem... for which you can objectively test ;-)

It's the way the UN runs. There's no need to think critically about this global warming thing. We have a team of certified experts who all agree it's happening and we're causing it. Hey, we sent inspectors in and they didn't find any WMD in Iraq. Therefore, Bush lied (but Clinton et. al. didn't when they said the same thing but did nothing about it. But I digress.)

Experts say the war was in Iraq was lost by winter, 2007. They're "certified".

Expert? My favorite definition actually came from a [probably very progressive] lady I used to work with.


Ex: from has been. Spurt: A drip under pressure.
Here's your sign? Here's your card!

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