True Certification - Earned or Purchased?
“Eventbrite Order Notification” – This is probably one of the best mails I receive as a ScrumTrainer It usually means I have another student with whom I can share my passion for Scrum. Sometimes it doesn’t quite work that way.
Last year, I got this notification for a student who wanted to attend my PSPO course. I usually send my students a survey asking them about their background and expectations and have a pre-training conversation, just to make sure we are on the same page. In this specific case, I’m so glad I did this.
The student had no background knowledge of Scrum and wanted a guarantee that she would pass the PSPO-I assessment as a result of attending my class. I explained that I cannot guarantee she would pass the assessment. Especially since this was an advanced assessment and she had no experience with Scrum and had not yet passed the foundational PSM-I assessment. She would have to study hard and earn it.
She said she found it very surprising that I could not guarantee her an assessment. So I gave her a refund. Not the kind of student I wanted in my class. I am not in the business of selling assessment certificates.
This experience made me think about our relationship with assessments and certifications in the Agile Industry. Maybe there are some differences relative to other areas of our life…?
CHOOSING A PEDIATRICIAN
For instance, how do we choose a new pediatrician? The health of our children is the most precious gift we have, so it is obvious that each parent tries their best to find the best doctor for their children. Many of us might have a multi-step process to pick the right pediatrician….
1. Do they have theoretical knowledge?
2. Do they have the right values? How do they treat their employees and patients?
3. Are they ethical – will they do what is in the best interest of my child?
4. Can they integrate theory, values and ethics into skilled practice and apply their expertise to treat my child?
5. Do they have a track record of taking good care of other children?
6. Are they recommended by my trusted friends?
7. Is their chemistry between us? Does my child and my family like them?
Since we cannot assess their theoretical knowledge or skills, we rely on an assessment by a recognized certification body like the American Board of Pediatrics to assess their qualification and we just check if the Pediatrician is certified through the ABP. Maybe questions 1 to 4 are assessed by the ABP.
So our selection process may look a bit like this…
Now, let’s look at how we choose future members of our Agile Teams…
CHOOSING OUR NEXT SCRUM TEAM MEMBER
When we choose a new member for our team, a lot is at stake. Complex Software Delivery is a risky business to start with. I tackle this topic in one of my previous blogs - Agile Gambling . There is so much at stake…
- The future of our customers
- The future of our investors
- The future of our company
- The future of our scrum team
Since the stakes are so high, we might apply a similar level of rigor towards choosing our next team member…
1. Do they have theoretical knowledge of Agile Software Delivery with Scrum?
2. Will they live by the Scrum values? How do they treat their colleagues and stakeholders?
3. Are they ethical – will they do what is in the best interest of stakeholders?
4. Can they integrate theory, values and ethics into skilled practice and apply their expertise to Agile Software Delivery with Scrum?
5. Do they have a track record of effective Agile Software Delivery with Scrum?
6. Are they recommended by my trusted industry connections?
7. Is their chemistry between us? Does my team like them?
We may trust a recognized industry certification to assess the candidates on questions 1-3. For instance, Scrum.org offers scrum Scrum Assessments for Scrum Foundations, Scrum Masters and Scrum Product Owners.
So our selection process might look a bit like this…
ASSESSMENT AND CERTIFICATION CREDIBILITY
This is where it gets tricky.
There has been a proliferation of assessments and certifications in the Agile Industry. Not all assessments and certifications are created equal. Not all assessments ask challenging situational questions that mimic the real world, challenging candidates to dig deep into theory, values and ethics and demonstrate their expertise.
In some extreme cases, organizations are no more than certification printing machines boasting about the low cost and effort for candidates to get their certificate…
ASSESSMENTS AND CERTIFICATION TO BUSINESS RISK MANAGEMENT
So we are faced with a challenge as Agile Professionals – how can we manage the business risk exposure by choosing the right assessments and certifications to add new team members, or to measure an upgrade in the skills of existing team members?
How seriously should we take our research on Agile Certifications and Assessments? As seriously as we take our research on Pediatric Certifications and Assessments?
How do you decide which Agile Certification and Assessment to trust?
Here is a set of Assessments from Scrum.org that I trust…
So in closing, in my opinion, True Certification is Earned, not bought…
What do you think…?