Agility Alliance

Connecting technology gurus and business masterminds to make things better


AA is off to a screaming good start - congratulations to Rolando Hernandez for NOT following the lead of so many blogs by making it the sameo-sameo kind of blog but more of a all-things-to-all-people kind of blogosphere where everyone can be involved.

One thing bothered me about the blog and I'm hoping that Rolando can fix this one: When signing up you HAVE to assign yourself a level of expertise or the system assigns you as a Novice. While I would hope that I'm not a novice, I feel uncomfortable rating myself when there are no standards by which one can rate oneself. Meaning, while I might be apprentice level in some areas I do feel that I'm somewhere in the top three in others. I hesitate to call myself distinguished since I have never invented anything of substance nor do I have an earned Ph.D. in anything. And never have I felt that years of experience count for level of ability.

There is a story of a person (was it Patton?) who was asked about experience. He pointed to a mule and commented that the mule had more experience in battles than many of his men. But the mule was still a mule. Years of experience without having made any kind of contribution nor being capable of being anything other than what your nature makes you is no measurement of level of expertise.

There is a Proverb that says something like, let the lips of others praise you and not your own. Maybe Rolando can change the selection criteria to having the lowest level as Undeclared. Probably not. Still, it bothers me that we have so many "Experts" and "Distinguished" members most of whom might or might not be what they proclaim. The only really Distinguished persons at ORF 2008 were Dr. Daniel Levine, Dr. Rick Hicks, Gary Riley and Dr. Charles Forgy. John Zachman, Dr. Girratano, Dr. Anoop Gupta, Dr. Dan Miranker, Paul Haley and Dr. Ernest Friedman-Hill were not at ORF 2008 but they would have been Distinguished as well. There are many others in other fields who are Distinguished in other areas BUT this is speaking about the rulebase space. There were several who are Expert, such as Mark Proctor, Carole Ann Berlioz-Matignon, Carlos Seranno-Morales, Daniel Selman, etc. But there are a lot who were, well, for lack of a better term, "rule wanna-be" kind of guys.

BUT, and here's the bottom line, maybe we're learning that what we need is some kind of certification for Rule Engineers and Knowledge Engineers. I never did like the Sun certification after one of our business analysts at FedEx took a week vacation, took the test and made a better score than many of the experienced programmers. In other words, he studied for the test, passed the test, but he was NOT a programmer. However, the Professional Engineering society has a long and distinguished record of grooming (in the good sense) and training engineers over a five-year period to properly ensure that the public doesn't get a "bad apple" in the mix. I tried something like that but it seems that most of the wanna-be guys won't pick up a book to read.

Anyway, think about it. Maybe we could use this site to establish what is and what is not Distinguished, Expert, Journeyman, etc. But, in all honesty, be careful. Rolando has said that he will delete the default so that we can be "Undeclared" rather than Novice as default. But maybe there should be a general audience as to whom should be "Distinguished" or not.


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Comment by James Owen on December 15, 2008 at 2:34pm
Again, what we need is REAL "Certification" of some kind before we begin assigning labels like Distinguished, Expert, Novice, Beginner to folks. Now, if someone can come up with a decent system (other than that junk that I once proposed for DRG) it would be greatly appreciated. Also, see if you can get rid of that default "Novice" rating. Thanks,

Comment by Rolando Hernandez on December 15, 2008 at 2:27pm
Thanks James.

I have no idea how large this group will get, but I truly believe it can help make things better.

Make business better; make systems better (systems can mean anything from one computer system to the entire global financial system, which is in shambles right now); etc.

The goal is not to be a large network, but simply to make things better by bringing together experts form different disciplines and different schools of thought. 10 smart people sharing their best ideas can make things better. So can 100. Or 500. Imagine what you can learn from 500 people smarter than you in the same room. I think that will help us make things better.

So if we get just a few people from IT and business to learn from each other, that alone would be wonderful.

If we can make just one person, one system, or one company better, then the network is good and adding value.

If we can get just a few smart people together from different domains to share their knowledge and expertise, then this network is very good and extremely valuable.

If the simple idea of connecting technology gurus and business masterminds to make things better encourages just one true visionary, just one distinguished member, just one mastermind from business and another from IT, to share a few thoughts and insights, well, then, this network is pretty cool.

One of the biggest lessons I learned building global expert systems at Mobil Oil (between 1988-1995) was that bringing Mobil's top experts from around the world together in one room for knowledge acquisition sessions was often the first time these experts had a chance to meet in person and actually work together. Although many of them had 20-30 years of experience, and they were all recognized throughout the Mobil system as the top experts in the corporation in that particular technology, service, or product, they had never had an opportunity to meet face to face with their colleagues across the pond until the knowledge engineers came along to interview them. We brought them together to share knowledge, and it worked very well.

The other big lesson I learned at Mobil was to treat all countries the same. We used to build systems that had a field for country that said "U.S." or "Other". Well, when I was in Japan, to them, the U.S. was "other". And in the U.K., we were "other". And so I learned that the U.S. is just another country that should be added to the drop-down list. It's a big one, a great one, but it's not the only one.

And so those two ideas somehow resulted in building the Agility Alliance: a global network for experts, by experts, to share great ideas. Across disciplines, functions, industries, and technologies.

To make things better.


Rolando Hernandez

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