Myth of Certification

Effectiveness in our roles has evolved with the evolution of process, training and certification.  Over the past I have been always challenged by the people that focus on their certifications as a basis of their ability to do a job.

I remember a story my Dad once told me about a fellow he intervied a long time ago.  The guy had a bazillion degrees, masters, phds and the like.  But when my Dad told me the story I got the impression that he did not think the guy was qualified for the role he was clearly highly trained to do.

Over the years I have found the same when people focus on their PMP (Project Management), Microsoft, Oracle or even Teradata certifications that I can not use these as a gauge of their competence in the area.

Now this does not mean they are not valid.   I think they are great and of good value.  It certainly tells me they are focused on this area to have gone through the certification process.  But it does not mean that they are qualified.  You still need experience and the other softer skills.

So go, get certified and the like.  But remember, this is not the end, but just another accomplishment that arms you for potentially higher effectiveness.

  1. Jim Reply

    Selection process is such a difficult issue and one everybody tries to simplify. Looking simply at credentials is an easy way out.
    The best way to evaluate a person is to have the person recommended by somebody you know. You then have at least a starting point. Training without successful experience is not good. In fact training by itself may be dangerous.
    There is no substitute for the interview and a trial period. Even then hiring remains one of the most important functions of management and one of the most difficult. Shifting the burden to an HR person is not the answer. They can help but the manager must wear the decision.

  2. Stephen Hayward Reply

    Great points. a good addition to the conversation.

  3. PEH Reply

    The problem may be far worse than you suggest. Rather than being relatively benign, “creeping credentialism” may actually be making it more difficult to identify good practitioners as they are less willing to spend time on activities like acquiring a PMP.
    This problem is amplified in organizations large enough to be saddled with an HR department who, frequently, use credentials like the PMP to screen potential candidates. Sadly they typically use it to exclude the candidates without the credential rather than those with it.
    Fortunately as light-weight credentials become more and more common they become increasingly useless as a screening mechanism. The fixed cost however, of acquiring a necessary but relatively useless credential remains forever.

  4. Graham Boundy Reply

    We don’t have to show you no stinking badges…

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