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Sneetches and Credentials or Certifications

I’ve recently discovered a new love for reading Dr. Seuss books to my son.  I can’t help but see parallel after parallel to my every day life.  I guess if you write a good enough book, like Dr. Seuss, everyone should be able to identify.  My last post about Dr. Seuss and Green Eggs and Ham seemed to resonate with a lot of people.  I had to write this post because I want to know if others see what I see.

This post is about the Sneetches and Sylvester McMonkey-McBean.  There are two kinds of Sneetches in this world, those with stars on their bellies and those who don’t.  When reading this, I want you to picture yourself as a Sneetch and your star being a credential or certification.

Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches had bellies with stars.
The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.
Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small.
You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.

But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches.
Would brag, “We’re the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches.”
With their snoots in the air, they would sniff and they’d snort
“We’ll have nothing to do with the Plain-Belly sort!”
And, whenever they met some, when they were out walking,
they’d hike right on past them without even talking.

I’m going to introduce another character into this story.  His name is Sylvester McMonkey-McBean, an entrepreneur who offers hope to the plain-bellied Sneetches by offering them the use of his star-on-machine.

Then ONE day, it seems while the Plain-Belly Sneetches
Were moping and doping alone on the beaches,
Just sitting there wishing their bellies had stars,
A stranger zipped up in the strangest of cars!

“My friends”, he announced in a voice clear and clean,
“My name is Sylvester McMonkey-McBean.
And I’ve heard of your troubles. I’ve heard you’re unhappy.
But I can fix that, I’m the Fix-It-Up Chappie.

However, it soon becomes clear that Mr. McMonkey-McBean is no champion of the Plain-Belly Sneetches; in fact all he cares about is making money.  He is quite happy modifying the machine to remove stars from Sneetches who want to stand apart again.

I’ve come here to help you.
I have what you need.
And my prices are low. And I work with great speed.
And my work is one hundred per cent guaranteed!”

Then, quickly, Sylvester McMonkey McBean
Put together a very peculiar machine.
And he said, “You want stars like a Star-Belly Sneetch?
My friends, you can have them for three dollars each!”

“Just pay me your money and hop right aboard!”
So they clambered inside. Then the big machine roared.
And it klonked. And it bonked. And it jerked. And it berked.
And it bopped them about. But the thing really worked!
When the Plain-Belly Sneetches popped out, they had stars!
They actually did. They had stars upon thars!

Then they yelled at the ones who had stars at the start,
“We’re still the best Sneetches and they are the worst.
But now, how in the world will we know”, they all frowned,
“If which kind is what, or the other way round?”

Then up came McBean with a very sly wink.
And he said, “Things are not quite as bad as you think.
So you don’t know who’s who. That is perfectly true.
But come with me, friends. Do you know what I’ll do?
I’ll make you, again, the best Sneetches on the beaches.
And all it will cost you is ten dollars eaches.”

He encourages the Sneetches to continually go from the star-on-machine to the star-off-machine and back to the star-on-machine.

All the rest of that day, on those wild screaming beaches,
The Fix-It-Up Chappie kept fixing up Sneetches.
Off again! On again! In again! Out again!
Through the machines they raced round and about again,

Changing their stars every minute or two. They kept paying money.
They kept running through until the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew
Whether this one was that one or that one was this one. Or which one
Was what one or what one was who.

Eventually, Mr. McMonkey-McBean vanishes once the Sneetches run out of money.

Then, when every last cent of their money was spent,
The Fix-It-Up Chappie packed up. And he went.
And he laughed as he drove In his car up the beach,
“They never will learn. No. You can’t Teach a Sneetch!”

Fortunately, in the end, the Sneetches have no idea who is who and both Star-bellied Sneetches and Plain-bellied Sneetches learn to live together.

But McBean was quite wrong. I’m quite happy to say.
That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day.
The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches.
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.
That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether
They had one, or not, upon thars.

In the project management community, I think a lot of people will recognize Sylvester McMonkey-McBean as the Project Management Institute or the Certification Boot Camps.  But, I’m certain this is not unique to my industry.  Are they there to help or are they there to make money?  I’m not going to crucify either because I have a certification.  But, just because I have 2 stars on my belly doesn’t make me any better than someone with none upon thars.

What do you think?

About Derek Huether

I'm Vice President of Enterprise Engagements at LeadingAgile. I'm super focused on results. But I also take the hand waving out of organizational transformations. I come from a traditional PM background but I don't give points for stuff done behind the scenes. The only thing that counts is what you get done and delivered. Author of Zombie Project Management (available on Amazon)

10 Responses to “Sneetches and Credentials or Certifications”

  1. March 25, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Derek, Great post! I don’t think we’re ever too old to learn from Dr. Seuss.

  2. March 25, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Derek, Great post! I don’t think we’re ever too old to learn from Dr. Seuss.

  3. April 3, 2010 at 2:56 am

    I can’t believe you just applied Lessons Learned from the Sneetches to project management. Way to go!
    .-= Brian Crawford´s last blog ..Get yourself a Gravatar =-.

    • Derek Huether
      April 3, 2010 at 12:18 pm

      I think if we all read the Dr. Seuss books every few years, we would take away something new. I read them as a child merely to pass the time. Who cared about the hidden messages and lessons? Now, the hidden messages and lessons are the most apparent. Glad you enjoyed my association!

  4. April 2, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    I can’t believe you just applied Lessons Learned from the Sneetches to project management. Way to go!
    .-= Brian Crawford´s last blog ..Get yourself a Gravatar =-.

    • Derek Huether
      April 3, 2010 at 5:18 am

      I think if we all read the Dr. Seuss books every few years, we would take away something new. I read them as a child merely to pass the time. Who cared about the hidden messages and lessons? Now, the hidden messages and lessons are the most apparent. Glad you enjoyed my association!

  5. September 9, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    I think life is a lot about perspective. One perspective on the PMI is that it’s a money-making machine that spits out barely trained project managers. Another perspective is that it serves a useful purpose – it trains project managers, provides annual meetings for on-going education – but it is fallible because it is run by fallible human beings, as just about everything on earth is. I’m not a project manager out there, trying to get a job, and failing because people who have the PMP and I don’t are getting them. So my perspective is different from theirs, but I can totally understand the frustration.

    • Derek Huether
      September 10, 2010 at 11:41 am

      Laura,
      You make some valid points. I think the point I was trying to make is there are some really talented Sneetches out there without stars upon thars. They are no less qualified for the job. Some feel compelled to pay whatever it takes to get that star. The blame falls to those who believe that value is in the star and not the Sneetch.

      If there’s one takeaway I hope to teach… Don’t value the star; value the Sneetch.

  6. September 9, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    I think life is a lot about perspective. One perspective on the PMI is that it’s a money-making machine that spits out barely trained project managers. Another perspective is that it serves a useful purpose – it trains project managers, provides annual meetings for on-going education – but it is fallible because it is run by fallible human beings, as just about everything on earth is. I’m not a project manager out there, trying to get a job, and failing because people who have the PMP and I don’t are getting them. So my perspective is different from theirs, but I can totally understand the frustration.

    • Derek Huether
      September 10, 2010 at 4:41 am

      Laura,
      You make some valid points. I think the point I was trying to make is there are some really talented Sneetches out there without stars upon thars. They are no less qualified for the job. Some feel compelled to pay whatever it takes to get that star. The blame falls to those who believe that value is in the star and not the Sneetch.

      If there’s one takeaway I hope to teach… Don’t value the star; value the Sneetch.

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