Loser! Try again!

Certainly in the top ten way to manage a group boundary is having an exam. The exam is good if the owner/governors of the group want fine control over the group membrane. The primary problem with an exam is it tends to make your group a monoculture and not surprisingly that monoculture’s primary attribute is skill at exam taking. That displaces practical skills. Pretty soon the folks in charge of the group start thinking that exams are the hammer for every nail and the groups most complementary group is something like Kaplan’s test prep company.

I heard tell of an exam for set designers that involves locking them in a large building containing a stage and a lot of materials and then coming back later and seeing what they came up with. I like that. Presumably that too has unintended consequences. Wouldn’t it be better if they filled the building with difficult producers, stage managers, investors, suppliers, etc.?

Professions societies get stuck in a tough bind when they go to design the next revision of their entrance exams. On the one hand they want to use it to raise professional standards and assure quality. If they can do that then they and their clients know that people in the group can be trusted. Trust is extremely valuable since it creates efficiency.

On the other hand they want to manage the supply of professionals because that directly effects what they can charge. Make the test harder the supply goes down and your prices go up.

Doesn’t matter who manages the test you still have to worry thru both the agency problems and the question of what exactly your goals really are. In this country we have laws that preclude “company unions,” i.e. unions who’s governance power is held by the firm’s management. That’s an obvious setup for abuse.

So I was amused to see that Microsoft is currently offering free retests for Microsoft certified engineers. My first reaction was that they were attempting to increase the supply; i.e. lower prices. Then I got to thinking about how “company unions” are illegal “company defined professions” aren’t.

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