Posts tagged ‘Accountability’

As Learning and Assessment Professionals What Could We Have Done to Prevent the Financial Crisis

As I prepare my various presentations for our Questionmark Users Conferences in Memphis, Tennessee in the context of an economic downturn but a thriving assessment market I can’t help thinking about how we as learning and assessment professionals could have done more to prevent the economic crisis.

A radical thought but take this journey with me.  The current crisis stems from:

  • Unethical behaviors in the mortgage sales process
    • Where were our regulators?  Did they know what they were meant to be doing? Were they assessed?
    • Were these mortgage brokers tested on ethics?
    • Was the chain of command trained on how to spot and prevent fraud and deceptive practices?
    • Do our certification methodologies need to move into the 21st century? We have so many tools to raise people’s levels of consciousness and thereby their accountability. But are we using them as effectively as we could?
  • Lack of Consumer Education
    • Businesses are out to make money. Credit helps us borrow against our future in order to have something now but borrowing excessively causes stress while making others wealthy. How many borrowers fail to understand this and why?
    • I wish I had learned fiscal responsibility earlier on in my life. Did I miss that class at school or college or did someone forget to put that into the curriculum?
    • Should/could there be elearning courses and assessments that could be part of the lending process to ensure that consumers are competent to take on their responsibilities?
  • Lack of understanding of new (unstable) financial instruments (e.g. Credit Default Swaps)
    • It seems to me that the financial instruments, or weapons of mass financial destruction, were poorly understood.  We don’t let children play with fireworks for very good reasons!  Many good people’s financial future has been wrecked by financial expert’s incompetence.
    • Just as we don’t let our pilots fly complex machines without educating them and testing them I don’t think that we should have amateurs pretending that they understand these complex instruments.
    • Is there any process to confirm that complex financial instruments are understood by the people who construct and trade them? Are they competent?
    • As assessment professionals we know that when someone says “Trust me I know” it often means that they don’t!
    • Should there have been more effective learning around these financial instruments?
    • Should they have tested to see if they had sufficient competence to play the high-risk financial games that they were playing?
  • C level executives exposing their organizations to unacceptable levels of risk
    • Some organizations were so focused on training and certifying new employees being on-boarded to handle their growing businesses that they forgot about educating and assessing middle managers and above.
    • I’m CEO of Questionmark.  I go on training courses. I do tests. I have to take our internal tests.
    • Should we not have batteries of test instruments to confirm that our C levels have the business understanding and ethics to run the organizations (banks, etc) that we as a society depend on?

Okay, so you now get what I’m talking about and you get where I am going!

So Learning and Assessment professionals stand up and be counted!  You have knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes that can help us learn from recent experiences and help prepare us for a more ethical and stable future.  Your organization employs you for your expertise and so I ask that you use your knowledge and skills to help and benefit us all.

Anyone that knows me gets that I am passionate about assessments and I love learning. I especially love learning from our customers.  At this year’s User Conference I’d love to learn what we could have done to prevent the unethical/uneducated behaviors and questionable practices that led us on this journey of mass financial destruction not to agonize over what has happened but to help our profession be a part of the solution.

Lets make a difference and stand up for our profession!

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March 28, 2009 at 3:37 pm 6 comments


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