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Agile Certifications: What’s The Value?
By Chris Moody

Last week I attended an agile training seminar for the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification. It got me thinking about what is really the value of going to an agile training session. Having already attended the Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) training last year I was curious as to how much I would benefit. When I attended the CSPO training the trainers take was that you needed to learn almost as much about the scrum master role as you do about the product owner to be able to understand better. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of new knowledge I walked away with. I’ve noticed that each trainer has had a deep background leading and coaching agile teams, and with that comes different nuggets of wisdom. While the first 1-2 hours were mostly review, after that it seems that each session had a life of its own and had tremendous value.

Do you really need an agile certification to be effective on an agile team? Technically no. But if you are someone who is looking to make a role transition or have an extensive background in waterfall environments, it could be a great tool and demonstration of your ability to make that transition. Obviously time and experience with agile is more valuable, but if I were going to make a statement in the same format of the agile manifesto it would look something like this “Working experience over training seminars and certifications. That is, while there is still value in certifications, there is more value in working experience.”

Why should you keep going to training seminars like this? For me I realized that when you work in an agile organization you can start to get used to the way you are doing things. And being with a room full of people talking about what they do gives your copious amounts of inspiration for what you are doing. I was furiously writing out sticky notes with ideas for things to try, and now the challenge will be slowly introducing some of those ideas to the team without being “that overly hyped out conference high let’s change everything” guy.

Something else I was pleased with is that after attending the CSM training I was required to take an exam (open book), that required me to prove my knowledge. It didn’t sit right with me that I could attend a 2 day CSPO training and leave with a certification. The CSM exam was actually pretty challenging, even with the internet at my disposal. It was a good exercise all in all.

Chris Moody is a a project manager/consultant working for a consulting firm in the Seattle area. In recent years he has been working with agile teams more abundantly. You can read more from Chris on his blog.

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