RE: certification

Subject: RE: certification
From: KMcLauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 14:49:18 -0400

Certification MAY be used by employers to exclude (and then
only the non-certified, not necessarily the less competent),
but, by definition it must first be used to exclude from
the certifying organization.

People (especially when they form themselves into like-minded,
mutually-backpatting, political committees) like to put other
people into boxes. Boxes have defined edges and volumes, and
are therefore easier to control and stack than are lumpy,
randomly-assembled one-off items.

Certification is a box. S/He who controls the size and shape
of the box gains control over those who find/insert themselves
in such boxes. Very few of those who are to be stuffed into
the boxes are of the box-like dimensions. Among writers,
technical writers in this case, I suggest that most of us
extend in many dimensions, far beyond the limited and limiting
proportions of the certified box.

Furthermore, just the fact of having the box in place, as a
standard and a requirement, tends to limit the aspirations
and horizons of those who arrive (all fresh and new) to be
fitted for their box.

If you stand out in the profession now, and are successful
for your energy and skills as much as for your writing talent,
then you'll still stand out in a certification environment,
but with more friction and non-productive effort. Those who
have plenty of talent, but perhaps less of the innate drive
will be forced into a mediocrity they might have surpassed
in the absence of the weight of certification (and politics).

The politics exist whether certification is in place or not,
but with no certification, you can choose to ignore them
and live your professional life relatively unmolested. Once
certification exists, it becomes a focus and a foil. The
politics own you, unless you are possessed of the bare minimum
talent, skill, drive, etc., and therefore fit handily within
your certifier-assigned box... no trouble or threat to anybody.

Politics are the way people get themselves ahead when technical
talent, professional skills and managerial ability are
insufficient... or just too much bother to develop.

Has anybody done even cursory reading of the history of guilds?
Parallels are abundant.

Being on the inside of a guild often means/meant exclusive
access to employment, but it also means/meant a tremendous
amount of butt-kissing toward the political animals who
rise/rose to the top of each guild. Your kow-towing and
supplication were not over when you finally bought/licked
your way past the gatekeeper. The obeisances merely shifted
form and emphasis... and you paid a huge chunk of your income
to the guild for the privilege. Because... one of the first
thing a /c/e/r/t/i/f/y/i/n/g/ /b/o/d/y/ guild does is to
seek an authoritative (exclusive/exclusisonary) mandate from
the /k/i/n/g/ government.

Substitute union for guild, and say it all again.

In any heirarchy, people usually advance for reasons of
competence. It is a truisim, however, continually and
abundantly validated, that the competencies favoring
advancement become political, and completely incidental
to the talents, skills, etc. that are the ostensible
raison-d'etre of the organization.

Vile, profit-seeking corporations (I'm kidding) usually
have culture or other moderating mechanisms to minimize
the importance of political savvy while maximizing the
promotion value of managerial savvy, but political and
committee-based organizations have not.

The push for certification is an attempt to set the thin
edge of the wedge, or to set some people up as overseers
of the box factory.

I'm a writer. You want me in a box? Make it very, very large.


>-----Original Message-----
>From: Christensen, Kent [mailto:lkchris -at- sandia -dot- gov]
>Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2001 12:20 PM
>Subject: re: certification
>re: Certification is used to exclude.
>Yes, by the customer. Will you visit a doctor without knowing
>whether s/he
>is qualified?
>In the tech writing field, I don't think it's too close to the
>same thing,
>however. Not as much financial or personal risk or liability
>involved. Can
>we even get malpractice insurance?


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