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Managed Chaos
Naresh Jain's Random Thoughts on Software Development and Adventure Sports
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Cerfitication drives me insane

How many people have you met in the last year or so, who proudly claim they know Agile inside-out? Any how many of them are Certified Scrum Master? It’s a shame that a lot of people think attending a crazy 2 day workshop on Scrum makes them Agile experts. It all started with Scrum Master Certification. Now there are quite a few of these.

While I believe Ken Schwaber had good intension when he came up with this idea of Certification. But if you look at the way it’s been implemented, its a disaster in my opinion.

This bugs me so much, that I have set a personal objective to kill the whole certification crap. Its easy to set a personal objective but the question is how will I achieve it?

Before I talk about the solution, these are my thoughts about certification. I think people are trying to do 2 things with certifications.

  • To certify that someone attended a course. Which means they gained the knowledge delivered in the course.
  • There is a commercial aspect to it. Some trainers are trying to make a living out of this.

For certifications to make any sense, I think it is important to kill the commercial aspect by making the course/workshop free. This will ensure the real focus is knowledge sharing. I believe it will bring a voluntary aspect to certifications rather than a commercial aspect.

It is also important to figure out what the certification is named and what is the message delivered to people about the certification. I know a lot of people insist on having a certificate. I think that’s fine as far as the certificate clearly states this person has attended the workshop. But make it very clear that the certificate can only guarantee the person’s presence. It cannot tell anything about their skills and whether they will be able to apply what they have learned on their jobs.

So there are 2 parts to the solution:

  • Setting the right message about certification and what it means to be certified
  • Putting in place the logistics to make it possible.

While the right message is important, I think the logistics is what is tricky. My plan is to use non-profit organizations like Agile Software Community of India (ASCI) and Agile Alliance to take care of the logistics. I think they should also pay the trainer a reasonable amount to conduct the workshop. Their time is important and we want to appreciate the effort they are putting.

One might think that getting the right kind of trainer will be a big challenge. But I think with this kind of model in place, I don’t see people who are not serious about the knowledge sharing but more interesting in making a living out of it, being attracted. I’m fine not getting the best people in the industry to do it. I really appreciate people who believe in sharing and giving it back to the community.

During the Agile 2007 conference, I met Todd Little. He had another great idea about certification. He was suggesting using Experience Reports as a way to certify people. Every year there are lots of conferences and they do a really good job of selecting experience reports. Once a person has gone through all this selection process and have actually written a good experience report, that should be a good certificate to say they are knowledgeable and can actually demonstrate/use the knowledge on job.

If you have any other ideas, I would love to hear from you.

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