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March 2008
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May 2008

Do you love your job?



These two outstanding images (not graphically outstanding, of course, but outstanding in message!) are from a presentation of Garr Reynolds (found here) in which he summarizes some key points from Dan Pink's new book (written in manga - comic bookish) called: The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need.    Take a few minutes to view the slides; there's a great message there (and of course in the book too).  I just ordered a couple copies, including one for my nephew in college (with college graduations coming up - consider this as a present).  Actually, I should probably order more.  I know so many people that just tolerate their jobs, and I've never understood this.   

Here's one.  A few years ago I asked a friend how things were going (professionally)?  She responded, fairly apathetically, " know, it's a job."  I was speechless.  Why?  She's a neonatal intensive care unit physician.  How can that just be a job?  I would sure NOT want an MD without both passion and expertise to be responsible for keeping babies alive!  Get rejuvenated or get another job please!

Anyway, if you're one of this just plodding along in your job (or you know someone who is), get the book.  Perhaps it'll jolt you (or them) into a realization of what you (they) really should be doing.

FAQ: Training for Certification

Once again today I received one of the most frequently asked questions from execs considering developing certification: "Can taking our courses or training programs be a requirement for certification?"

The simplistic answer is yes, but only because there are no MANDATES that certifying agencies must follow in program design.  That is, you really are free to develop a credentialing program with whatever requirements you want and you can call it whatever you want (certification, registration, certificate, etc.)  However, just because you can doesn't mean you should.  You should know the implications.

First, mandating specific courses or training programs as a requirement for certification is in violation of the existing voluntary certification industry standards (ANSI and NCCA).   You're likely aware of organizations that require their courses as part of their certification programs.  In some instances, these programs – while called certification – may, in fact, be curriculum-based certificate programs (more on this later)...or they could be a blend between the two types of program.  In other cases, organizations may either not be aware of the industry quality standards or they have chosen not to comply with them.

Second, from the legal perspective, certification-related activities that are anticompetitive, discriminatory, based on subjective standards, or implemented without fair procedures are cause for antitrust concern.  In this case, a legal concern is a tying arrangement – that you are tying the certification product to an educational product (and requiring purchase of both).  Also, there is a fairness concern in requiring everyone to participate in (and pay for) coursework – regardless of whether they may need it.

Looking at the definitions from a purist perspective, if you are developing a program that includes both training and an assessment, that's called a certificate program.  The primary distinction between certification and curriculum-based certificates is in their focus. In certification, the focus is on assessing current experience, knowledge and skills. In a certificate, the focus is on training individuals to achieve a certain knowledge and skill base and then assessing attainment of it.   The programs meet entirely different goals so you need to identify your organization's goals before you determine which program type, if any, you should create.

For more information, check out the articles at this link.

The Curse of Knowledge

It's been quite a while since I've posted.  Luckily, I spent the last week vacationing in Hawaii (mostly Kona).  I'd post a picture, but it's too difficult to choose from the volcano, manta rays, sea horses, sea turtles, whales...!  I've been told that 2-3 days is plenty for the Big Island.  Wrong!  We had 6 days and didn't get to do everything we'd have liked to.  However, I fear we've set our kids up for future vacation disappointment - my seven year old has already asked if we could visit the remaining HI islands over the summer.  Yeh, right.

Anyway, something I encountered repeatedly over the past couple of weeks that I think we can all learn from.  When I've asked for instructions or guidance from someone, they've often answered me as if I was already informed.  Duh.  If I was informed, I wouldn't be asking the question!  Here's one conversation while in Cinci, my last business meeting before vacation. 

Me to hotel front desk right after checking in (I'm thinking that's a clue that I don't know my way around  yet):  Can you direct me to the nearest place to make photocopies?

Him:  Sure, there's a Kinkos near the Westin, on the first level.

Me: How do I get to the Westin?

Him:  Take the skyway.

Me: How do I get to the skyway?

Him: Take the elevator to the second level.

Me: Where's the elevator?

You get the idea? 

The Heath brothers, in their book, "Made to Stick" call this the curse of knowledge.  The curse of knowledge happens because when we know something, it becomes hard for us to imagine not knowing it.  As a result we become lousy communicators.  Yes, once I figured it out, the Hilton to the Westin was a simple walk (took shorter to get there than it did to get the instructions, I think!).  But, since I'd been to neither before (much less the skyway in between), I had no frame of reference.  The Westin could have been across the river in Kentucky for all I knew.

Do your members or applicants have to know the answers already to be able to find them?  How often do you proof your own writing?  Well, of course it makes sense to you, you wrote it!  The key is to see if it makes any sense to others, without your knowledge. 

I recently read written materials of a client in order to create a flash-based on-line presentation for them (highlighting changes to an existing program).  There were a few sections that I just read over and over and finally had to call for clarification.  Even after the verbal clarification, I had to admit I just wasn't getting it.  In fact, there were at least two examples where I completely misinterpreted concepts.  They were alarmed -- not at my inability to comprehend (I've worked with the group for over 15 years so they know me and my capabilities well)-- they were alarmed that their materials that were almost out the door to the printers were confusing, even to someone who knows the program.  The lesson here, I think, is to not assume your language is clear to the uninformed.  Test it.  Have them read it and tell you what it says.  Unfortunately, what you think you've written is not necessarily what they'll say they've read.