Accredit where credit is due

I’m not too big on certificates of completion.  I do still have my high-school diploma, but mostly because it was engraved on metal and mounted to a 5 x 7 slab of wood.  (Try rolling that into a cylinder.)  I have four or five other paper endorsements, none of them hanging on a wall.  And I may still have the bizarre, serving-tray-size plaque that ISPI issued for my Certified Performance Technologist status — though since I can’t imagine where I’ve hidden it, you can assume it’ll never require a new hole in my office wall.

Some people do value certificates.  I got a reminder of that in Marguerite Inscoe’s post about workplace motivation at Five Star Musings.  I think there’s a distinction between motivation (meaning, an internal state) and incentive (an outside system).  The two states are closely related, so if an employee finds certificates motivating, then the organization’s system of incentives should at the least offer them.

I’ve neglected the potential value of certificates and other recognition in the past.  Maybe I’d seen one too many “ego walls” covered with testimonials for every activity known to corporate printing.  I’ve also never quite understood the CEU (continuing education unit), essentially a measure of time spent, except as something easy to count, and therefore counted.

It’s not really my job to decide where other people find their motivation; I strongly dislike others deciding that for me.

I don’t know much about open accreditation, but I think it’s going to creep up from the back burner (or from off the counter) for a lot of people in the training/learning field.  Even if you’re dealing only with individuals (e.g., at FrenchPod or its friends and relations), many of those individuals may want some recognition of a level of accomplishment, and others will want to know what the accomplishments represent.

Tangentially, I’ve been researching mini keyboards — separate keyboards with roughly the configuration of a laptop’s, without the useless numeric keypad and other stuff taking an extra 6 inches on the right.  The “open accreditation” in the form of user reviews is pretty thin.  As in other areas of life, I can read the reviews in detail and distinguish the rah-rah reviewer from the this-is-lame reviewer, and occasionally find the thoughtful one that seems to me to offer true value.

Too much of a leap from open accreditation?  I can’t say.  Just an indicator of how we’re moving into new territory, like the 19th-century explorers trying to comprehend the labyrinth of northern Canada.  A few of us, myself included, sometimes have to recognize that our previous models don’t necessarily apply.

With a hundred seamen he sailed away
To the frozen ocean in the month of May
To seek a passage around the pole
Where these poor sailors do sometimes go

Through cruel hardships they vainly strove
Their ships on mountains of ice were drove
Only the Eskimo in his skin canoe
Was the only one that ever came through

— from Lord Franklin (or Lady Franklin’s Lament)

“Certificate of Computation” by Mangee.

4 thoughts on “Accredit where credit is due

  1. Ah, for just one time I would take the Northwest Passage

    To find the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea;

    Tracing one warm line through a land so wild and savage

    And make a Northwest Passage to the sea.

    – Stan Rogers

  2. Here’s a version sung by Sinead O’Connor.

      In Baffin Bay, where the whale fish go
      The fate of Franklin no man may know
      The fate of Franklin no tongue can tell
      Lord Franklin he sailed through Hell
  3. You do a great job making an ironic point – what is the purpose of a certificate? Our desire to be validated, or to prove we pass-the-muster on a certain body of knowledge. In the workplace, who you are and what you know is much more apparent and important that what degrees or certificates you have (we all know multi-degreed morons).

    Wait, I have it…it’s the paycheck.

    No poem addition, I apologize.

  4. Marguerite, I’ve heard ISPI’s Judy Hale speak at length about certification. The question’s always whether the certificate (in whatever form) means anything — and to whom, and why.

    I think difficulties arise when your direct knowledge is more than, say, two degrees removed — as in, if you’ve never heard of ISPI, and you don’t know anyone who has, then how much confidence do you put in its CPT designation? In the same way, when you see that there are 199,000 people in your extended LinkedIn network, do you think they’re mostly useful resources you can tap? Or are they members of a granfalloon?

    I suspect that’s true with your workplace reputation, as well. The people in client training knew me when I was there, as did many of our sales staff — but not many people in other divisions of GE, and very few people outside the GE family.

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