Re: Certification/Degrees

Subject: Re: Certification/Degrees
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 1996 09:52:00 EST

At 10:06 AM 12/12/96 EST, you wrote:

>"Professional" is not a stamp on the forehead. It's a set of values &
>attitudes manifested in behaviors. Some auto mechanics are professionals,
>some doctors are flat-rate-book mechanics.

Good point, but it's proof for the opposition. If "profession" is a set of
values and attitudes manifested in behaviors, but there isn't a
commonly-accepted and enunciated set of values and attitudes, you don't have
a profession; you have situation ethics. If all auto mechanics in an area
are certified (and many are by auto manufacturers) then you have a presumed
set of basic knowledge standards. If the mechanic can't fix your car, then
he's lapsed from the commonly-accepted standards and should be brought to
book for it. But at least there is a standard that the customer can point
to. Without that "piece of paper" over his workbench, how is the customer to
know that the mechanic is actually a slovenly idiot, rather than just
unknowledgable? In this case, the mechanic should know, and has been
certified as knowing, but doesn't apply it. He's unprofessional. Without his
training and "little piece of useless, fire-starting paper" the customer
won't know if the mechanic is unprofessional or if the car really is
unrepairable. That little piece of paper establishes a baseline that the
mechanic is now responsible to living up to. He's plunged a stake into the
ground and said "Here I stand! Judge me! I have proclaimed my competence and
knowledge!" Without that piece of paper, he's just another guy making
claims, but he can't really be taken to task if he fails to live up to his
lies. That piece of paper is a constantly flashing red light immediately
over his head. If he's proven to be incompetent, then everybody will know
because that piece of paper has established his minimal competence. If he
fails to meet it on the job, it's his fault and no one else's.

That is professionalism in the abstract. Professionalism in the specific is,
indeed, the behaviors that spring from the committment to professionalism in
the abstract. But that's how all professionalism works, not just ours. It's
no longer enough to just shove paper out the back door and proclaim that
it's good work, because nobody can gainsay it. Rather than endless
subjective standards for performance, we need an objective one.

Tim Altom
Vice President, Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice) 317.899.5987 (fax)
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