Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Agile Developer Skills Workshop--Homework

In the wake of announcements from the Scrum Alliance and Microsoft on a "Certified Scrum Developer" program, that would cost around $4-5k per developer, Ron Jeffries and Chet Hendrickson are hosting a discussion on how we, as a community, can support skills development for developers/agile team members. In preparation, I hosted an open space discussion on the topic at Agile Tour Besançon, and a parallel session ran in Agile Tour Philadelphia. The community has long resisted any developer certifications, for many reasons:

  • existing schemes don't seem to measure the most important skills
  • certificate possession doesn't seem to correlate with skill
  • certification has been expensive
  • etc.

When I spoke with other developers, the following topics came up:

  • how is any test/class going to show if I'm good at my job?
  • who is going to pay for the test/class?
  • why should the Scrum Alliance or Microsoft or WAQB or any company be able to define agility?
  • what happens if people get the cert and I don't?
  • etc.

I also had a nice conversation with Laurent Bossavit about the topic. He suggested that at the workshop we ban the word certification--that way we'd have to reveal the motivations for wanting the program at all. He feels like certifications are a replacement for a system of trust--but once money gets thrown in, we need a way to justify the system--a way to explain what people are paying for. One motivation for creating a system would be to show who in the community is worthy of emulation... to show what behaviors are valuable, what practices are effective. In any case, this system should be community owned, democratic, and should value/reward life-long learning, while still fostering innovation towards better ways of developing software.

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