I’m just kidding. But imagine if PMI made these a requirement?
Three years ago I moved to New York City to work at the ESI International offices in the Financial District. Even though I knew Manhattan fairly well, I wanted to know the geography of New York City (I have two degrees in Geography) like a taxi cab driver. So what better way to do this than to earn my hack license from the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC).
Here’s what I had to do to earn that license.
1. Take 32 hours of mandated training provided by a TLC approved training provider (there are only four in the City).
2. Have my driving record checked to make sure I was a “safe“ driver.
3. Pass a drug test (had my urine checked for illegal drugs).
4. Have my fingerprints taken so they could see if I had a criminal record.
5. Pass a grueling exam consisting of three parts: English-language facility, map reading, and NYC geography.
And, to keep my hack license I have to pass a drug test, take a defensive driving course, and maintain a clean driving record, every two years. Do you know what the typical NYC taxi cab driver, who works 6 days a week 12 hours a day, earns? About $50,000/year.
Now, driving a cab is a very responsible job. As a taxi driver you have peoples’ lives at stake; not just your own, but your passengers’, pedestrians’ and other drivers’ as well. If you have ever driven in Manhattan, you know what kind of challenge that is. So NYC wants to make sure you’re a person with a safe driving record, not a criminal, don’t use illegal drugs, and know where you’re going.
That makes a lot sense to me. Because if your NYC taxi cab driver does have a criminal record, is a drug user, has a bad driving record and doesn’t know where he’s going, you, and others, could get killed.
What about project managers? We can earn a PMP®, or some other project management credential, with a lot less rigor than earning a NYC hack license. However, we also have a lot of responsibility don’t we? Many of our projects put lives at risk. For example we manage:
- software projects to operate nuclear reactor facilities, which, if the code doesn’t work right can kill people.
- projects to build bridges and tunnels, which if they collapse, can kill people.
- projects to drill for oil and gas, which if they don’t go right, can cause calamitous environmental damage that can kill people and wildlife.
- drug development projects, which if they don’t go right, can put drugs into the marketplace that can kill people due to side effects we didn’t anticipate.
- projects to build sophisticated commercial airplanes, which if things don’t right, will drop out of the sky like a lead balloon and kill a lot of people.
And the list goes on and on.
We manage all sorts of projects that have a lot serious consequences if not done right. Yet, to earn many of the PM credentials in the marketplace we just need to provide some data on our experience, perhaps show some documentation, and pass a test.
I’m not knocking the PMP® or any similar credential . I earned my PMP® in August 1990 and am proud that I hold it. I’m sure others who hold similar type credentials are proud of theirs too. But I have to wonder if maybe we shouldn’t be held to at least as high a standard as a NYC taxi cab driver is held to.
What do you think? Should we raise the bar for the PMP®?
By the way, the next time you visit New York City and hail a cab, and especially if you’re from a country where tipping of 15-20% is not the cultural norm, remember what your driver had to go through to earn his license because your life is, literally, in his hands.
And by the way, he’s probably making half of what you are. Be generous.
P.S. As you can see to left, I did earn my hack license. I did it for the fun of learning something new and for the challenge to see if I was good enough to make the grade. To be sure, I learned a great deal about NYC geography. But the most interesting part of the experience was to get to know my classmates, most of whom were from South Asia and West Africa and who had emigrated to America for chance at a better life. Many of these folks held down one, and in some cases, two jobs, while studying for their hack license. If you think you were nervous taking the PMP® exam, imagine how these folks feel the day of their hack license exam. Their dreams of a better life are riding on it.