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.

An agnostic agile journey of a team new to agile

A bigger, but packed with learning read on a real case of an agnostic agile journey, from scratch.


The team was new to agile, and to each other and the organisation. They were asked to develop a new mobile solution that would be used on board of airlines. So, regulatory / safety aspects. There was an external hard deadline, and the organisation had lost a year creating a hefty traditional business requirements document through another, traditional (expensive) team without delivering any product, not even for evaluation, and now there were only a few months left. In a business workshop it turned out that a lot of the requirements had become outdated or even obsolete. The need for the product and the external deadline had not changed, though. Neither the business division that was client nor IT management were very warm towards agile – they were convinced that “agile does not work here”. They were also not very open to change their old (micro) management habits……They knew however that traditionally they had never delivered in such a short time, nor three times that. And maybe if it did not work, they could get rid of agile. A win-win? An interesting, challenging journey was ahead. Continue reading “An agnostic agile journey of a team new to agile”

Freeing Practices – introductory talk to Agnostic Agile (slides)

Frameworks provide the common language, guidance, events and ceremonies that govern how things “get done around here” for a lot of organisations, and they provide a great starting point. But how much common ground do they actually have?

The agile ‘industry’ suffers from a lot of dysfunction between practitioners, competing certification bodies and branded frameworks and methods. We still see people vehemently aligned to a single framework or method, disregarding others, and ultimately perpetuating the ‘one size fits all’ mentality. This is inherently not agile and is not true to the manifesto.
Continue reading “Freeing Practices – introductory talk to Agnostic Agile (slides)”

Essence – Putting Agnostic Agile into Action

To all agnostic agilists – as part of the next iteration of the Agnostic Agile concept, we are supporting and working with the team behind Essence. Essence is a standard that defines the smallest set of concepts that are common to all software projects and helps embed agile professional practices and governance across an organisation for sustainable, scalable and responsive solution delivery.
Continue reading “Essence – Putting Agnostic Agile into Action”