Last week I taught the “Agile Project Leadership” course with Sanjiv Augustine in Manchester, UK. The course went really well and we were looked after by Ian and Dot Tudor our hosts from TCC Training and Consultancy. They have a number of training facilities around the UK and ours was Aspen House, a converted church that retained all the arched doorways and high vaulted ceilings you would hope for.
It was a rare treat to teach in such nice surroundings and the church setting made evangelising agile all the more fun. In truth we were “preaching to the choir” as most of the delegates were already familiar with the benefits of agile and were looking for practical tools and more leadership techniques to move their organizations to the next level.
Agile Accreditation – Again!
Following the course most people sat the new DSDM Agile Leadership Level 1 Certification. This accreditation program builds on the suggestions for accreditation coming out of the Agile Alliance (“...certifications should be skill based...”) and the APLN (“...incorporate experience reports, and peer review...”). The program is brand new and still evolving, but currently structured like this:
Level 1 Foundation – open to anyone, based on a 1hr written exam.
Level 2 Practitioner – requires submission of an experience report explaining agile leadership competencies that were used on a real project. This is reviewed by a panel of examiners, then followed up by an interview with two examiners asking experience and knowledge testing questions.
Level 3 Coach – This level has not been fully defined yet, but will require additional agile project leadership experience and peer review as components of the assessment.
The APLN group started looking at accreditation and certification a couple of years ago. I was on the Learning and Recognition group for a while. My view was that it was going to happen anyway and so I would rather be on the inside trying to create a good program rather than standing back and seeing it go astray.
Like many others I took the ScrumMaster training course and have been assigned the CSM designation. Yet, because no agile experience or test was required, feel it represents recognition for attending a training course rather than a measure of agile understanding or experience. If we are to have agile accreditation then something based on a test, practical experience, interviews and peer review seems a fair way to go.
While in the UK I sat the Level 2 Practitioner exam and thought it was a good assessment of the core competencies for agile project leaders. I passed (it would have been embarrassing to fail having spent 2 days teaching related material!) and I think the DSDM group have a comprehensive framework on their hands.
The whole agile certification debate is a complex and contentious topic. When money, egos and standards get involved we inevitably see the best and worst of behaviour. On the counter certification side, fellow Agile Alliance board member, Willem van den Ende, posted this link to his blog today on the Agile Board discussion list. It points to an argument that non-certified IT staff on average make more money than their certified peers. It presents an interesting alternative viewpoint.
Doubtless the certification debate will run and run. I am no longer on the APLN Learning and Recognition committee, I have said my piece that we should make accreditations the best we can through real exams, experience reports, interviews, and peer review. Instead I am focussing my APLN time on the Leadership Wiki Of Knowledge (LWOK), a community built collection of agile leadership best practices that can be used for self-directed learning. However, it is reassuring to see that the accreditation programs that seem to be taking root now embody the ideas of a better program.