The Relevance of Degree and Certification

A degree, or certificate, is given to someone who has pass a certain program. It certifies that the holder of the certificate has fulfilled the criteria stipulated in the degree or certification program. For example, a certificate of attendance given to someone who has attended a training, or seminar. A bachelor degree is given to someone who has passed a study, battery of test and final thesis. Other certification program require someone to take one or more tests, and meet passing grade before the certificate is awarded.

One thing that a degree or certificate don’t say is how the holder will do in the real world.

A PMP certified Project Manager knows how to deliver a project according to PMI Standard. However, it tells nothing if the Project Manager able to negotiate a change request for the benefit of the business, or able to handle a meeting where the CIO of the customer is enraged. Personally, I’ve seen a CIO making comment to a PMP-certified Project Manager: “I don’t understand what is in your slide, or what you are trying to say to me.”

A fresh graduated, certified medical doctor might have all the knowledge to cure people. However, does he/she has the skill to show empathy to terminally ill patient and family? Or understand the environment he/she operate at to understand whether a 3 different lab result of urine that showed different bacterial presence indicate an urinary tract infection, or contamination of the sample?

So, the question, is certification or degree still relevant in the business world? Is it still relevant to pay someone solely based on the certificate under which his/her name is written, or the degree that he/she hold?

I will give another example before answering the question: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg, all never graduated from university. Yet, they are all successful to change people’s live, and in the process, earned a lot of fortune. I don’t think they have a certificate in Project Management, Cisco, Microsoft, or other major certificate that is highly sought after. This itself proves that the certification alone is not the the only factor in determining success in business.

Yet, there are also many people with university degree, has also become very successful. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started a successful company called Hewlett-Packard, which now become HP and HP Enterprise. Larry Page & Sergey Brin holds PhD and University Graduate. Both launched a very successful search engine called Google.

So, to answer my question, certificate or degree is no longer relevant in business world. It might be necessary, or might not be necessary, but it is no longer the only important factor, not even the most important factor.

And then, should we reward and promote someone solely based on the certificate or degree that he/she hold? Well, if certificate or degree is not relevant, why should it be the only factor?

My answer to the question: if you are running a university, then please go ahead and score people based on tests, exams, and certification.

But if I’m running a business, I would rather reward and promote people who bring more money, improve the cost structure, bring more customer and keep the customer happy, rather than rewarding and promoting people with long list of certification and degree.

What about you?

Do We Need to Force Learning?

The notion in education world is that, young kids need to go to school to learn. No matter whether they like it or not, they need to go to school, maybe forced to go to school. The notion is that, if these kids aren’t going to school, they are not learning.

The question is, do we really need to force learning? The answer from TED stage would surprise you. Not only that we need to force learning. The fact is that, we can’t stop learning, once the right environment is set up.

The episode Unstoppable Learning from TED Radio Hour will show you the experience of several TED speakers related to young kids and learning. If you are short of time, at least listen to the first part of the talk, about how kids in rural India figure out how to use a computer, set up in foreign language, without any keyboard.

Another section that I would recommend you to listen below: baby start to learn while they are in the womb. There are no way you can stop it.

So, if you have young kids like me, start to give yourself a thought: Is it better to waste your time and resources to force your kids to go to school they never like, or spend your time and resources setting up the right environment for your kids to learn?

Factory Education and Why It Need to Change

If you never worry about education, now it is time to worry. The business environment is changing, from industrialization to creative economy. But, has our education adapt to the changes? Watch Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk in February 2006 below. If you simply in a hurry, skip to after the video, and return later to watch the video. Seriously, Sir Ken Robinson’s talk is hilarious.

I specifically interested on Sir Ken Robinson’s view on education at around 11 minutes into the talk. This is what he said:

“…. The whole (education) system was invented — around the world, there were no public systems of education, really, before the 19th century. They all came into being to meet the needs of industrialism……”

When you think about it, it is quite true. Look on our education today. How are we trying to churn out people with same skill, with the same measurement, namely Grade Point Average. And, in addition to that, how we stigmatized art and social science at lower caste than exact science?

For me, it is no different than how industrialized economy operates to standardize everything. This is how it supposed to work in industrialized economy. In order to produce product with certain standard of quality, you need to employ people with certain standard. This is what our current education system do: to produce graduates with certain quality standard. Anything different from standard will be stigmatized as “below” standard.

This education system, and its output will not survive in creative economy. Workers in creative economy will need to think out of the box. They need to think different from the current standard, to get out of the competition, and create new things. They need to go to uncharted territory, take a chance, and not afraid of being wrong, or risking themselves caught in the fierce competition of industrialized economy.

But sadly, as what Sir Ken Robinson mention earlier, the current education system frown upon those who make mistake, who thinking of other way to do things. This need to change.

So, coming back to ourself, how do we want to raise our son? This is the mental note that we made: We don’t put a high demand on good academy result from our son. We want him to not afraid to take a chance, even if he don’t know or not sure, and not afraid to make mistake