End Of The World As We Know It

End Of The World As We Know It

Agile Project ProfessionalAfter the public announcement last night, that PMI intends to create an agile project management certification,  I heard REM playing in the back of my head.  It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.  Though I will admit I was a bit nervous when I learned PMI was going to do an Agile certification, back in October (2010), I made my peace with it.  I came into the picture toward the tail end of the PMI Agile Project Professional (APP) process.  As Mike Cottmeyer stated on his blog,

We’ve had a ton of really smart people involved, people you’d know and respect in the agile community.

Those people worked really heard and I applaud them for their efforts.  As an independent reviewer of the competencies, techniques/tools, knowledge and skills, I can personally assure members of the Agile community that PMI is not trying to rewrite Agile as they know it.  It’s not perfect, but it’s a pretty damn good version 1.0!

For those who were not at the PMI North American Congress back in October (2010), there was strong representation by the Agile Community of Practice and a lot of curiosity, and might I add ignorance, by the average Congress attendee.  I didn’t find it surprising, considering there is a complete omission of the word “Agile” in PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) version 4.0.

It is my hope that this new certification will provide that baseline understanding of Agile for many.  I do believe this is a step in the right direction.

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12 Replies to “End Of The World As We Know It”

  1. Derek – thanks for weighing in. It’s been interesting watching people’s reactions to it on Twitter. I learned of the Agile cert a few months ago in a conversation that I had with a colleague (disclaimer for those who don’t know: I am a PMI staff member working for their Educational Foundation).

    I’m actually seeing the reactions that I expected to see: a mixed bag of positive, negative, and reserved judgment. I understand that there are some in the Agile community who don’t feel like PMI gets it or is catering to their needs. On the other hand, I think it would’ve been a huge strategic mistake for PMI not to do something for the Agile community.

    If you think it’s a pretty damn good version 1.0, then I consider that a victory for the time being. PMI is dedicated to adding value and continuous improvement in our products, so I’m confident that this will blossom into something of value for the community.

    Thanks again for your thoughts!

    1. Andy, I’m actually kind of surprised. I expected the vocal haters to come out in force. That has not happened…yet. I have a hell of a lot of respect for those who worked on this project. They had to know there was going to be some backlash. But, it really is good for everyone. As soon as I saw the list of contributors involved in the creation/review process, I felt relieved.

      I want the uninformed out there in the world to stop thinking Agile is a silver bullet. I think once the collective “body of knowledge” or whatever it’s going to be called is published, there will be more understanding and more acceptance.

      1. I want people to stop thinking a lot of things are silver bullets, Agile included. I’m actually studying to sit for the CAPM exam, and even the PMBOK says that the PMBOK isn’t a silver bullet. It’s up to the project team to figure out if it’s appropriate and what from it is appropriate for their particular project.

        If I actually pass the CAPM exam, I promise I won’t go around calling myself a project manager since I know that won’t be the case! I am really enjoying the learning experience, though.

        1. Andy, I think you could be a great PM, if that’s the path you choose. There is something in the PMBOK Guide many overlook. What’s the most common Tool/Technique listed? It’s Expert Judgment! You’re not going to read through 500+ pages and get a series of instructions. Formal instruction and practical experiences. In time, that’s what will lead to expert judgement.

          Let me know WHEN you pass the exam. I have no doubt that you will.

  2. Thanks for the post Derek. It seems to me reading over their description if this is a stand-lone certification? I suppose that is OK, but is only geared towards people who want to be Agile project managers?

    You know I am not a fan of certifications and one of the things I dislike about them is how organizations handle them and don’t recognize people’s knowledge and experience matters more than a certification and maintaining a certification. While there will be some overlap in earning and maintaining a certification, it isn’t exactly the same.

    But it makes me wonder how those AGAINST Agile will now feel; now that their PMI house is a how of Agile repute too!

    So having the PMI endorsement will be good to the community; having the management layers that really bother learning any more about Agile other than get me certified PMI APP holders will be detrimental. Mixed bag really. It’s a US (and maybe other countries too) cultural issue, not really a PMI problem per se.


    1. Paul, I’m not a big fan of certifications either. But, this was going to happen if people in the community liked it or not. I am glad those who were involved WERE involved. My greatest concern was the competencies were going to be hijacked by a few and written in a way that did not align with the Agile community. That’s not the case.

      I’m still keeping my eyes on the hiring managers. When I read the statistic “63% of hiring managers would encourage their project managers to pursue an Agile certification”, I just rolled my eyes. I certainly don’t have an answer on how to educate people about the level of competency a certification provides.

      Time will tell.

  3. Derek

    I would put it as “Beginning of a new world”. I am a positive person, you know, for all my faults 🙂

    I am waiting to see how PMI includes Agile in a Project Manager’s toolkit, in what situations does it recommend Agile (and more importantly, when does it NOT apply), what practices of Agile does it introduce etc. It would codify Agile to a large extent, otherwise, everyone is free to start a non-traditional practice (without proven effectiveness) and call it “being Agile.”

    Maybe someone needs to say that unless a practice or technique proves that it eliminates waste or delivers value (and not using current practices), it cannot fall under Agile!

    1. Sridhar, actually, I like your title suggestion. We’re turning a page. It’s almost poetic that PMI announced this just days after the 10th anniversary of the Manifesto.

      I don’t think PMI is going to “recommend” when to use Agile, versus Spiral, RUP, or Waterfall. From the information I was provided to review, there were six major clusters of competencies (that I will not list at this time), competencies within each cluster, techniques/tools, knowledge and skills. It’s up to the individual, who is committed to using agile methods, to leverage certain techniques or tools; to possess certain knowledge or skills.

      To add, if a practice or technique does not deliver value or eliminate waste, it just shouldn’t be done! I don’t think you need to be an Agile practitioner to make that decision. But, I think it certainly comes to your attention faster.

      Thanks for your comment. Good to hear from you on this.

    1. When I came to support the PMO that I am now, something like half of the people in the PMO had a PMP. I was the only one with Agile experience. I had to provide training to all of them when a vendor proposed leveraging Agile methods during a period of performance. This will be a good thing for US Federal Government programs/projects.

  4. You make several very good points. I would say… and I know you don’t want to hear this… be patient. Don’t forget, an “AgileBOK” and a new PMBOK version are coming.

    And again let me assure you. People from the Agile community are directly involved in the process. PMI didn’t anoint people (with no experience) from within their corporate culture to head up “the Agile group”. The group is made up of real Agile thought leaders. PMI has people, clear up at the top of their ranks, who are champions of Agile.

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