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Agile Certification? C'mon Folks!

I wrote previously about agile certification. I don’t like the idea. However, some new arguments arose recently.

For example. Peter Stevens wrote: “In a time when every office worker gets told ‘A Microsoft Office certification is good for your career,’ it is clear that certification is part of the game”.

It is not the case for companies applied agile software development. For example, at TargetProcess we do not pay almost any attention to official certificates. They all sucks. I personally interviewed many people having several Microsoft Certificates, but many of them were bad developers. They were coders, and that is something we are fighting against. It appeared that certification has nothing in common with developers skills. We hired several people with no certificates at all, and we hired several with certificates. There is no any relations between good developer and certificates they have.

Agile implementation changes company culture. Without this shift agile adoption will fail in the long term.

I do believe that there are many Certified Scrum Masters that did not get the Scrum process right. People are different. Someone may attend the course and work hard to improve his knowledge. Someone may attend the course and take SCM title with honor, thinking that he knows everything to implement Scrum in his company.

On my opinion that is one of the reasons why Scrum adoption fails in companies.

How To Certify Meta Process?

Software development process is a complex thing, that should be adopted to each company, environment, etc. Some best practices may not work in some conditions. It means we can’t include practices into certification test at all. What we can include is things that shape the process, things that focus on development process improvements, like retrospective meetings, communication empowerment, self-organization, emergency. But can you imagine how the questions sound like?

  • Have you something in place that enables process evaluation and improvements?
  • Do you have practices that power communication?
  • Do you have practices that enable self-organization?

Guess what answers can we get on such general questions: “Yes, our top managers meets every year and discuss development process improvements”, “Yes, we have Outlook, it is great for communication!”, “Yes, team located in one room, so it is easy to shout out and assign particular task”. The result is obvious though.

What Type of Agile Certification May Work?

Agile certification may be developed in the future, but for the very strict set of conditions. For example, there may be quite good set of questions for the team under the following conditions:

  • Team size: 4-6
  • Project type: Typical web site
  • Project complexity: Average
  • Distributed Team: No
  • Region: Europe
  • Technology: Ruby

If someone creates questions based on the criteria above, that may work. All other attempts to certify teams using General tests will miserably fail in the long term.

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