Dynamics 365 and the illusions of competence

The Dynamics 365 community is flooding over with excellent articles, video’s, blogposts and learning services, and I enjoy learning new stuff. When I consume the shared content, I feel that I really understand the concept and that it increases my competency. My “knowledge ego” bolster and I feel have a deep understanding on new subjects when I consume what is shared.

Some days or weeks later I get into a situation where it could be useful to express my competency to customers and colleagues, and I suddenly realize I don’t find the right words or is able to express the topic as it should. I then get confused, because I have seen the videos, read the blog’s, and looked into the documentation. Why cannot I always communicate back what I “feel” I have understood? I then realize that I have tricked myself into thinking I was competent.

In psychology the term for this, illusions of competence. There is a misconception that we think that we understand and have learned because we have spent time attempting to do so. To exemplify:

  1. Seeing information in front of you, such as reading a blogpost or seeing a video, doesn’t mean you know it.
  2. Hearing someone come to a conclusion doesn’t mean you know how to get to that conclusion or to explain their argument.
  3. Searching for something on Google gives you the illusion that the information is in your brain.
  4. Spending lots of time with materials doesn’t mean you know it.

In essence we can say that the material our brain consumed into our short-term memory, but never went deep into our long-term memory. And it is in the long-term memory of our brain where the not only facts, but also complex concepts or schemas is the foundation of the deeper understanding. Competence is organizing information into patterns of knowledge, and schemas give depth and richness to our thinking. Understanding and intelligence is derived largely from the schemas we have acquired over long periods time.

I will not try to come up with a good solution, but a good blogpost on how to overcome the illusion of competence is available here.

How does this relate to the Dynamics 365 community?

I have been working with Concorde XAL, Axapta, Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365 since 1997. And I know for a fact that regardless of how much I read, I’m not able to deeply understand it all, as things evolve. As you are reading this post you understand that blogging is also my way for me to understand a topic better. For better understanding and measure my own competence I need to objectively test my knowledge. For this I use Microsoft learn and certifications. It is not bulletproof, but it is the best way I can measure if I have understood a topic.

I’m therefore so happy when I see the Community fellows share their certifications on LinkedIn, and I try to “like” them as much as possible, because I then know that the individual effort for deeper understanding have paid off and we as a community should celebrate this.

BUT! I have a shout-out; There are 3 roles in our community where I very seldom see sharing their learning achievements.

Operations managers, Project managers and Sales managers.

This is people with profound responsibilities does not seem to test their competence. After all, it is often them that takes the final decisions, and they are in a high risk of having illusions of competence.

I therefore challenge Operations managers, Project managers and Sales managers to at least take the beginner certifications to get a better domain understanding, that can lead to better decision making. Here are the ones I would recommend to our dear managers:

Happy Summertime, and wish me good luck in my certification renewals

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