Beyond the Agile Certification Alphabet Soup

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Beyond the Agile Certification Alphabet Soup

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The debate on the value of agile certifications has been raging on for decades. And one thing for certain is that it hasn’t dimmed the enthusiasm of the companies and organizations creating them.

For example, in 2016 I had a wild idea to explore and capture as many agile certifications as I could. I found 113, and I’m sure it wasn’t an exhaustive or definitive number.

Apparently, my work inspired Anthony Mersino to update the count in 2019-20. Bless his little heart. He found 270 at the time, over a 2x increase from my inventory. He called the post—The Circus of Agile Certifications, and I resonated powerfully with that somewhat snarky title.

Imagine that, 270 distinct certifications! I think it’s safe to say (pun intended) that there are probably ~300 unique agile certifications as I’m writing this post in 2023.

And the problem with most of these is that they are granted by simply attending a class and, in some cases, a quick exam. But are classes enough for learning, growth, and success in agile ways of working?

My answer would be a firm…No!

And my observations are that the Agile Certification Industrial Complex is letting loose hundreds and thousands of underqualified, under-skilled, and under-self-aware individuals operating in roles where they don’t have a snowball’s chance of successfully navigating their roles and meeting expectations.

But while all of this sounds (and is) perhaps dire, there might be, dare I say it, HOPE.

The real reason I’m writing this post is not to—

  • Criticize the Agile Certification Industrial Complex;

  • Criticize people who are relentlessly adding letters after their names;

  • Criticize the dilution of skill and lack of self-awareness of this problem.

No, I don’t want to amplify the negative energy.

Instead, I want to applaud a new player on the block. Someone who seems to have realized that true skill, true mastery, true competency, and true success is in learning mastery beyond the classroom.

Someone who is trying to rail a bit against the machine. Someone who is getting back to core agile principles and values.

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