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No More MCM

By Steve Jones,

This is part 1 of a 3 part series of thoughts on certification and Microsoft technologies.

I've heard that Friday afternoon is the best time to fire someone. People are leaving early, the office is quiet, and you can let people go quickly and get yourself away. It also gives the remaining employees some time to grieve, and hopefully, come back to work Monday without some of the shock they initially experienced. At least, that's what they say. Personally I think there's no good day, and productivity always suffers somewhat whenever there's surprising, upsetting news.

Recently, just before the US Labor Day holiday, late on a Friday, I saw a number of announcements on Twitter that the MCM program had been discontinued. Since I was on holiday, I thought I'd missed something, but apparently not. It was late on a Friday that the an email was sent to all MCMs and MCAs notifying them of the change. It was a brief email, noted here, and didn't include some of the reasons of that were given as a comment in a Connect item filed to save the program (the comment was from Tim Sneath at 1:32pm). There's been a variety of coverage and blogs around the Internet as well.

We aren't being told the whole truth, nor do I expect to be told the whole truth. This is Microsoft's program, and as such, we follow along and adjust, or choose to ignore it. In this case, I can't believe that this was anything other than a cost based issue, designed to reduce expenses and raise profits. In all likelihood, someone(s) bonus depended on internal Microsoft Learning metrics being met (probably revenue or profit numbers), which the MCM/MCA program were reducing. In an effort to look better, the program was chopped, without a lot of input, communication, or discussion with the people actually working to better the program. I expect Tim Sneath and others were caught off guard with the decision and told to deal with it. They did so poorly, extremely poorly. In hindsight, I'm sure someone wishes they'd composed a better message and delayed sending it for a couple days.

I attempted the first part of the MCM early on, with a voucher. I didn't pass, but I learned how hard the exam was, realized it was within my capabilities, but that it would require some serious study. I didn't proceed further because of other commitments, but I've watched more and more people work through the MCM process, usually over months or years as they learn, struggle, research, and drive themselves forward.

Ultimately the achievement isn't the certification, but the journey. The efforts candidates go through, the knowledge they acquire from study and hard work, and perhaps more importantly, the skills they build to teach themselves new techniques. I wouldn't hire an MCM because I was sure they necessarily knew everything about my environment. I'd hire them because I would be 100% confident they could find the problem and fix it, no matter whether they used old knowledge or acquired new proficiency on the spot.

That was the real value of someone who completed, or even seriously worked towards, an MCM.

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