Does Certification Limit Learning?

Mike Griffiths is a consultant and trainer who help organizations improve performance through shared leadership, agility and (un)common sense. He maintains the blog LeadingAnswers.com.

It seems ironic, but I wonder if the process of creating a curriculum and multiple choice-based testing procedure leads to an over-simplification of the subject matter and inhibits learning? Maybe it is the process of creating a credential or people’s inbuilt desire to simplify ideas, but we seem to have lost practical project management guidance on dealing with uncertainty.

Industry practice is full of different approaches, overlapping and sometimes conflicting recommendations. That’s just part of the rich tapestry of having so many different problems to solve, across varied industries with diverse organizations and stakeholders. Yet, if you are creating a certification, we need a single, clear process to test against. It allows for “What comes next?” and “What is the best thing to do?” type questions based on a short scenario description. Answers like “It depends” and “There may be several things to consider” cannot easily be assessed via a four-option, multiple-choice quiz.

My local PMI chapter had its annual professional development conference recently with a “Back to the Future” theme. I presented on how projects used to manage uncertainty and how we do it now (Slideshare file here). Using examples like the Manhattan Project, the original Waterfall Lifecycle paper, the Polaris project and real …

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