Posted by: Carlos Buxton | Mar 23, 2011

PMI Agile Certification – need more info! #pmiagile

The nature of any certification is to establish a minimum level of competency in something. I get the PMP certification as a minimum standard of knowledge and commitment to the project management practice, it also goes beyond that into a commitment to further both your personal understanding and the practice itself.

That is why I am still struggling with PMI’s agile certification – I cannot get my hands around what its purpose is, what it is trying to certify. I understand that at a basic level it is setting a minimum knowledge standard and a common language about agile frameworks like Scrum, XP  and Kanban, and techniques like pair programming and test driven development.

It still does not answer the basic question: why should I want to obtain it? The answer is clear for PMP credential holders folks new to agility, as it gives them a documented path to obtaining an introduction/understanding into a world that has exploded in relevance/importance in the last 5 years. But if you are an experienced agilist (and yes, I do consider myself part of that group) and a PMP what is the value added aside from another credential from a distinguished organization.

Having had the opportunity to look for positions, I see first hand the impact the PMP certification has had in establishing a standard for the PM practice, but what does an agile one give that you could not get on your own with a few hours of training and the motivation to internalize the knowledge? Don’t get me wrong, I think the fact that PMI is stepping into this arena is big and has the potential for tremendous positive impact in agility… maybe!

Second, what does PMI feel the PM role is in the agile world? Largely to this point, there has been no need to manage agile projects in the traditional way, in fact a command and control approach in the agile world does not work and stifles it. (I have seen  a number of agile implementations fail because of management’s inability to sit back and let the team work it out, but that is a topic for another post…). A PM can be a scrum master, a product owner, etc depending interest and skills, but a PM cannot “manage” an agile project in the traditional sense, it does not work. I feel the biggest role of any PM in any project is that of facilitator, and that has always been my focus when I manage projects, and I think that needs to be the focus of the PM in agile projects. That has been my role in every project I “managed”, not to tell people what to do but to help them do their jobs by removing obstacles and problems that would cause them to stop, and maybe that philosophy has been what helped me internalize agility.

I am helping the PMI Agile community as much as I can while I search for answers, and I am also part of the pilot program for the certification process, so I can see first hand how PMI is going about it. I cannot sit in the sidelines and comment on the action, that does not really work well for me, I like to be involved and make more informed decisions.

So, I have these 2 nagging itches I want to scratch, and I am going to need answers, maybe not now, but soon…

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