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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Did Dr. Welby Need a Certificate?

Marcus Welby, MD had a diploma and a license, both unprominently displayed somewhere in his office. He was known by reputation in the community. Although Welby was a fictional TV character, he portrayed the community doctor.

The community was close and people talked regularly – reputations were shared, recommendations offered.

Today you still need a license and it is popular, but usually not required, to have a certificate if offering a service. This documents that you have the minimum requirements and have passed a test – both originating from the professional society, training organization, college, or university providing the program. These organizations are strong proponents of certification programs – which represents a 'product' in their offerings. The certificate-holders may frame and display their certificate, but will certainly add the designation behind their name in professional documents to convey certificated status. This process evolved as the communities disbursed and local conversations all but disappeared.

Thirty years ago in the human resources field, a certificate program was launched with time-in-role minimums and qualifying tests – all provided by the HR professional society. I carefully reviewed the value of these certificates and determined that they offered no unique advantage to serving in the HR role, did not mean anything to the employees served, and were not valued by the employer. My performance (and reputation) was determined by results achieved for both the 'customer' and 'boss'. Now 30 years later, with many certificate-designated HR roles, performance and reputation continue to be determined on results, certificate or not.

As I see it – when the buyers are segregated from the beneficiaries, certificates do matterto the buyer; however, the beneficiaries continue to evaluate on results achieved. The certificate is an attempt to fill the void of shared community feedback and local reputations. Is this more effective than recommendations on the internet by folks you don't know?

Given the choice, would you rather receive services from a certificated person or one with a positive reputation among their peers? Why?

Kick off the New Year Right at Talk Your Business - How to make more and better sales right away!
Wednesday Jan 30, 11:45 - 1:00 at the
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Chamber office - NEW LOCATION - the building is behind the Holiday Inn on Fairfax Drive.


Thoughthebrowser said...

Doing a good job is hard, takes focus. Certificates let you focus on something other than doing a good job, a relief for those practicing who find doing a good job too hard.

Certificates become more important when the practitioner can separate the user from the buyer. If your user is paying, you have to do a good job to get paid, no matter what your certificate says.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the comment, Dick - good points.

It is hard to do good work consistently - to do so requires 'all ya got'- anything not on a direct path is a distraction.

Obtaining a certificate is not on a direct path - it provides one additional data point and gives the referrer cover for the recommendation.