Certification in Agile Transformation

Having been involved in several Agile transformations, more often than not there is a prevailing desire for external certification to be achieved by permanent employees. This is particularly prominent in larger companies and enterprises.

This begs the question as to why external certification in frameworks such as Scrum, LeSS and SAFe is considered imperative to the success of such a transformation?

  • In my experience there are a number of critical aspects to a successful transformation:
  • Understand the outcomes to be achieved from the transformation
  • Sharing of the vision for the transformation and ensuring everyone understand and buys in to that vision
  • For employees to understand what it means to be Agile, where Agile came from and to be familiarised in the basics of any frameworks to be used
  • Coaching and mentoring for teams and senior leads – as they develop these skills and build up experience of practical application of techniques and practices

This is all tangible stuff but none of it requires “certification”. In fact, a catalog of internally developed learning, that can be flexibly delivered and rolled out across the organisation, is more powerful, and cost effective, than bulk delivery of external certified training.
Training is only the start of the journey. Nobody walks out of a training course, certified or otherwise, with a sudden ability to “do the job”. Not when it’s about complex, people-oriented interactions and behaviors . Here, the real learning starts on the ground, and on the job.

A transformation for a large organisation is not easy but it becomes even harder when the focus turns to the wrong things. Certification is often included with other actions that only give the illusion of change without real, necessary outcomes being realized.

Certification is only going to achieve two things – deplete the budget and create employees who have no tangible experience but now have a badge on their CV that may encourage them to seek pastures new!

So, rather than seeing certifications as a route to transformation, organisations should focus on the important things – cultural, root to branch changes that see a real difference in the behavior and ethos of the company – from leadership to intern, and beyond.