Friday, September 29, 2006

Things You CANNOT Get Certified For


I was chatting through IM with a friend of mine about something that I read recently (Crystal Clear). And the conversation, as hard as I tried, just went downhill from there. I got really agitated in the end, even after I realizing that half the time it is one of those flag words that got on my nerve.

Looking back at the log, I realized that I thought he knew what I have been doing at ThoughtWorks for the last two and half years, and he probably thought I had no idea about the topic in this book. During the whole conversation, we were on different depth level of the topic. I guess this is one more case proving that you should watch out for "Barriers for Effective Listening" and ask "Why do you ask".

With all that behind, I was still stunned at the fact that no matter how well so many people try to protect a good idea, there are still people out there trying to profit from it by coming up with bogus stuff in its name. And one very good example is "certification". Because apparently they succeeded in making my friend think that is what it is all about, another certification.

So here is a list of things that you cannot get certified for. Instead, only your peers who work with you day in and day out can rate you, subjectively.

  • Doing TDD even when you are under the pressure to delivery. Everyone can pass a test and do a little practice in their own pleasure.
  • Have the courage to speak up when there are things that you think is wrong. "Do you think you should speak up when you see something wrong?" "Yes." "Good! You are certified!"
  • Sit-Together. How can you certify that, just by sitting together for a week? It is one thing to say "yeah, it is a good idea", it is another thing to go to the extreme length of getting the tools yourself and start taking cubicles apart. (Yes I have met someone who really did it).
  • Code Co-ownership. I am sure everyone can check that checkbox to get certified. But how can you certify a person's willingness to learn as much as the codebase, make sure that the design is as clear as it can be, and pass on the knowledge to others as soon as possible?

Sorry but "certification" is such a binary rating system, that it just does not fit into what it is in the real world.

Then of course, it is always good to get some education on the topic and have a proof that you have finished them successfully.

But that hardly gives anyone the authorization to say that "It is nice, but it is really really hard to do a business-driven situation".

Not when the purpose of the whole thing is "Deliver the business value in whatever the best possible way".

(BTW, did you realize that if you mistype as, it is an actual website selling ads?)

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