Free press doesn’t always mean lollypops and rainbows

(Cross posted on The Masters Blog)

The eighth rotation of the SQL Microsoft Certified Masters program is about to wrap up and tomorrow is the big day of exams. David Ikeda is covering this rotation, but last week I got a chance to sit with the existing candidates for a day of instruction. I was really glad to get a chance to meet this group of candidates in person. These are highly qualified individuals and I have no doubt that we’ll be welcoming several of them to the SQL MCM community over the next few months.

One unusual factor in this rotation is that we have a distinguished and well known SQL professional, trainer, author, and blogger in attendance - Brent Ozar. I’ve followed Brent’s blog before the MCM days, and the prospect of his attendance was (and is) a very good thing. Brent has been blogging about his SQL MCM journey and preparation over the last two months, including details on his day to day experiences over the last three weeks of training.

I was glad to see the blog posts – although I also thought that such transparency means that, with the exception of NDA discussions and exam details, Brent is in a position to discuss the good, bad and the ugly (and although daunting, I believe that this is a good thing). MCM is an unusually tough process and sometimes the right notes are hit and sometimes the notes are missed entirely. Sure enough - today (after a few weeks of blogging) – Brent detailed some valuable (but tough) feedback for the SQL MCM program today on his blog: SQL MCM: Now, the bad stuff.

Both David and I want the candidates to have an experience of their lifetime – and so when components of the training miss the mark – we take it seriously.

Unlike other Microsoft Official Curriculum offerings, MCM training is a bit more organic and malleable. For each rotation, we must be prepared to change based on feedback and external trends. Given Brent’s post – I just wanted to express that we’re definitely listening and that we’ll do what we did for the last rotation which is as follows:

· At the end of the rotation we’ll aggregate all the feedback from surveys, emails, blogs, and conversations (group and individual).

· We’ll then sift through it all – looking for consistent themes. What worked? What didn’t work? Some content is golden and consistently loved. Sometimes content is liked by one rotation, but not the next. Some content is new – but not working. Some content is too easy or out of scope. Some content is missing.

· Next, we then work to address the feedback (content feedback, flow of content, topics that are missing, topics that are too basic, lab work that need retooling)

So long story short – we are listening and we will act. My overall hope is that the candidates in this current rotation and those attending future rotations will find the experience to be worthwhile and come away from this with actionable knowledge and a career-long technical community (not to mention distinguishing themselves in the community). In the meantime, we’ll keep pushing.