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Category Archives: Personal Development

Certification – My thoughts on Microsoft Certification Booster packs

Since March 7th, Microsoft is selling booster packs which can be bought until August 31. The exams can be taken up until six months after your purchase.

The following boosters packs are available:

  1. Practice Test + exam for $200
  2. Exam + 4 free retakes for $200
  3. Practice Test + exam + 4 free retakes for $225

As always there are pros and cons to this offering. These are things that have gone through my mind about these booster packs:

  • First of all, the retakes are not free because a regular exam costs $150 if you book it at Pearson Vue. Even though it is not free, it’s still a very good deal. If you would fail only once, you have saved money.
  • I would never choose option 1, I would always go for either option 2 or 3.
  • It can be good that people can get an exam with cheap retakes.
    • It might prevent (some) people from using exam dumps, because additional certification costs for a failure are not an issue anymore. This is especially true for people who have to pay for their own certification or for small companies with limited budgets.
    • It might help people that have the knowledge, but fail because their not used  to the way it is tested with Microsoft Certification Exams.
  • It might lower the value of certification
    • With that many cheap retakes the chance that you’ll pass (by chance) increases.
      • Especially since the number of exam questions is very limited, after a few retakes you could know most of the questions.
        • Which makes it easier for people to create exam dumps.
      • Without booster packs, the certification costs could become an issue.
        • This only affects people/companies where certification is an issue.
        • This could lead to people using exam dumps.

As with most things, when used for good it is a good thing. It will however be abused by some. Still this has always been the case and I feel it does not really matter. What I do believe however is that this large number of almost free retakes stresses again the need for a larger pool of Microsoft exam questions. But this has been a problem for a long time already and I doubt Microsoft will change this anytime soon unfortunately.

I wonder what other people think about this, so please leave a comment.

For more information on the booster packs see:
https://borntolearn.mslearn.net/b/weblog/archive/2016/03/07/introducing-new-microsoft-certification-booster-pack-offer

 

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Personal Development – self improvement books

Like many other people I’m continuously looking to improve. For me this includes, but is not limited to:

  • My technical skills as an ICT professional.
  • The balance between work and personal life.
  • Health and happiness.
  • Soft skills.

The last three categories are purposely very broad. Because of this, there are many books available that can help you improve. The books I’ve read or plan to read can be found on my website http://bjornhouben-web.sharepoint.com/Lists/Books. I hope it might inspire you to read some of them.

PS: Besides the books, there are also great online resources you might want to look into. I personally really like Seth Godin’s blog.

Should you know of any other great resources, please leave a comment.

 
 

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Recordings of the High Performance Organization – HPO webinar

The recorded HPO webinar ’Hoe bouw je een High Performance Organisatie’ is in Dutch and takes about 30 minutes. It will explain the definition of a High Performance Organization (HPO) that is being used and which factors are relevant for being/becoming an HPO. You can find the recording of the webinar here.

If you want to know more about High Performance Organizations, take a look at my previous blog posts regarding HPO. These are written in English and also contain links to other useful resources.

While browsing the site I also came across a nice Dutch article about profiles of Dutch High Performing Employees (HPE). This article describes two profiles that have been defined for High Performing Employees (HPE). One of the profiles is defined from a manager’s point of view and is appropriate for evaluating current employees and recruiting new employees. The other profile is defined from a colleagues point of view and can be used for development and coaching programs. For more information, read the article.

There’s also an English HPO Leadership toolbox app available at the Apple Store and at the Google Play Store. This includes a quick test to determine your current HPO scores.

 

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Starting my new job at Open Line today

After having worked at my previous employer for five years, it was time for a change of scenery. For me it had been clear for some time that Open Line was THE company I wanted to work for. I decided to follow my dream and did not even bother to look at other companies anymore.

Main motivators for me for wanting to work for Open Line are:

  • The people that work there are friendly, very knowledgeable and passionate about what they do.
  • There’s a “can do” mentality.
  • They work with modern technologies.
  • Potential for personal growth and learning many new things on many different levels.
  • Both colleagues and customers are considered to be partners.
  • They have good and close relations with many other well-known (ICT) companies and have won various awards along the way because of it.
  • Their values closely match my own values.
  • I want to be able to work for a company I truly care about, believe in and where I’m able to give it my all without any reservations or doubt.
  • They’re growing.
  • In my opinion they possess many of the characters of a High Performance Organization (HPO).

As such I made my intentions clear to a friend of mine who works there and I applied for the job opening of Microsoft Specialist. What followed was (in my opinion) a thorough procedure to see if we were both a good fit for each other. And according to the both of us, this was the case.

I look forward to starting today, and I will especially enjoy meeting new interesting people and catching up with the people I already know (those who attended the same school and those I met at my previous employer).

If you want to know more about Open Line, you can check:

There are also a couple of employee blogs that might be of interest to you:

To be continued ….

 

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Recordings of the book event: “What Makes A High Performance Organization”

For those who don’t know what a High Performance Organization is, please read my previous blog post because this post will only cover the event organized around the latest book from André A. de Waal called “What Makes A High Performance Organization

The event was held at the Maastricht School of Management (MSM) and was very well organized. Food and drinks were available and all aspects regarding logistics (including parking) had been properly taken care of as well.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Book Event: “What Makes A High Performance Organization” (October 30th, 2012 in Maastricht)

For those unfamiliar with High Performance Organizations (HPO), this is the definition of an HPO:
“A High Performance Organization is an organization that achieves financial and non-financial results that are exceedingly better than those of its peer group over a period of time of five years or more, by focusing in a disciplined way on that what really matters to the organization.”

For more information about the HPO Framework, you can read more on the HPO Center website.

For those who want to know even more about HPO, they can either:

  1. Order the book “What Makes A High Performance Organization“.
  2. Attend the book event “What Makes A High Performance Organization” that includes a signed copy of the book from the author André A. de Waal. For more information about the book event, check out this link.

I’ve already read “What Makes A High Performance Organization“. And even though I was already very familiar with the HPO framework (because of previous books from André A. de Waal), I really liked the fact that it was very practical and included many real life examples and experiences from companies all over the world including Microsoft, SABMiller, Svenska Handelsbanken, HP, Unilever, Umpqua Bank, Tata Steel and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

I look forward to the book event and hearing more about how other companies went about transforming their organizations to HPO. If you’re attending this book event as well, please leave a comment.

Also if you want to keep track of new developments regarding HPO, you can use the following resources:

 

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My RSS feeds for keeping up with ICT news/developments (Microsoft, VMware, Cloud and gadgets)

Currently, there are many technological advancements taking place every day. To keep up with them is already very hard. To make it a bit easier I use RSS feeds to quickly filter what I think might be of importance to me.

A list of the RSS feeds I currently use can be found here , but you can also download an XML export of my RSS feeds here for easy import to your preferred RSS reader (assuming it supports XML import). I also advise you to check Microsoft’s RSS feed index so you can customize it to your own needs.

I personally use Google Reader for my RSS feeds because then my RSS feeds will be accessible from everywhere as long as I have a browser and an internet connection. When you are often on the road without an active internet connection, a dedicated client with cached articles from the RSS feed might also come in handy.

PS: The Microsoft blog rss feed had many articles added daily and can be hard to keep up with, but you can pretty quickly weed out duplicate articles and articles in foreign languages.

I hope this has been helpful to you.

 

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