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Helping the “Wally”s of the World

There’s been a lot of great posts around the ‘net since my last post on Certification. Some notable ones include Ron Jeffries, George Dinwiddie’s and Chet Hendrickson. In Chet’s post, he asks the following question:

The CSD is not a panacea; it is one more arrow in our quiver.

When you get done mocking it, tell me what you are doing to raise awareness among the Wallys of the world. Something that isn’t just preaching to the choir.

The first place to start is the Agile Skills Inventory (and the associated mailing list). This is a great effort to catalog all of the skills that are needed by developers working in agile methods. It spawned out of the initial CSD movement and has gotten some even better traction over the past couple of weeks.

But in the comments to my post, and to the blog posts that came after, one sentiment was common: The CSD is the only thing we’ve got for helping people become agile. In fact, this echoed my sentiment to Uncle Bob a couple of weeks ago when I talked to him in Chicago. Namely, if we’re going to reject the CSD program as a community, what are we going to offer in its place?

I’ve decided to help change that.

Over the next 8-12 weeks I, with the help of others who have already volunteered to help, will be creating 24 60-minute videos complete with hands-on exercises and labs. The goal is a 3-day class worth of material that will cover everything needed to get started with agile development, including all of the material covered in the CSD program. All of the videos, materials and labs will be posted for free. It’s not a substitute for hands-on training, but for the Wally’s of the world who may not even be able to get to go to training, it’s a way to raise awareness that doesn’t require shelling out $2000.

If you would be interested in helping out with this effort, and perhaps recording one of the videos, please let me know.

I already have the entire course outline draft complete, and we’re currently in the stages of getting feedback and putting together the first videos, so I hope to launch the first series within a week. I’ll do another blog post once everything is in place.

I vehemently disagree that Certification is necessary to help the Wallys of the world (and in Ron’s latest post, he asks the Scrum Alliance to “Drop the C”). I think that putting together clear paths to gaining context that doesn’t require paying a premium for a worthless piece of paper is a much better way, and I hope through this effort to prove that the community can offer something even stronger.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • George Dinwiddie April 2, 2010, 12:05 pm

    Cory, I’d be glad to help you with your videos. Bob Payne and I have done some podcasts together on the Agile Toolkit (http://agiletoolkit.libsyn.com/index.php?post_category=Tips%20and%20Advice) to help people. I offer my advice free on many mailing lists.

    All of these are good things, but I suspect that there are people that these things don’t reach. Some of those people /might/ be reached by a course, especially one to which a company trying to “go agile” will send a number of people.

  • Cory Foy April 2, 2010, 12:12 pm

    Thanks George. Yes, I’m sure those people may be reached by a course. That’s why I thought the SA-REP was a good idea. And many of us offer free advice, which I think is good. That’s not what this effort is about. This is designed to be a course, ala the MIT Courseware or something similar. It should be of high-enough quality that it could be brought onsite to a company if they so desired.

    When I attended my CSM course, there were 20+ people from one company there. My table was made up of all people from this one company. And when I asked why they were there, they all said, “Well, our management is doing this agile thing, so we had to come”. If that’s our hope for changing the development world, then we’re screwed.

  • Derek Hammer April 3, 2010, 2:53 am

    I completely disagree with the sentiment that these certifications are positive catalysts for our industry.

    The argument is that “Well, this whole certification course is crap but _at least_ they’ll get exposed to Agile.” This is true but there is a larger negative effect of a certification program.

    There is a huge problem in our industry in the ability to represent skill sets for the purposes of personnel management (hiring; firing; reassigning; reallocation; etc). Managers and human resource directors are ill equipped to perform their jobs. For example, at my school there is a Career Services department that does a very good job of finding job placement for our graduates. However, the Career Services department is relatively abysmal when performing job placement in Computing. A large part of the problem is that they do not know how to market the skills of our graduates. The companies that visit our school and do interviews are unable to recognize that our graduates leave with a skill set comparable to second or third year software engineers.

    By creating certification programs, we are exacerbating the problem. Companies, previously ill equipped to recognize candidates, will jump at the opportunity to have some sort of measuring stick. As is our experience with certification programs, though, this will be a wholly inadequate stick to measure by. We will be cheating the companies, the candidates and our industry.

    I think we need to jump in and put our full weight behind alternative measuring sticks such as the Agile Skills Inventory (though, we should certainly support as many alternatives as possible). This way, we can more accurately represent ourselves so that our industry can properly distribute its resources to where they are needed most.

    Finally, people will ask “Well, then how do we introduce Agile, XP, etc. to developers if not through certification programs?” The simple answer (though more difficult to execute) is to foster a culture of learning in our professional lives. The drive to learn is going to be a much more powerful tool for adopting good practices (and inventing new ones!) than a weak side effect of a certification course that hurts the industry in the long run.

  • David Burstin July 7, 2010, 10:46 pm

    Hi Cory,

    Just wondering how the videos are coming along – I’m really keen to see them (I’m one of the Wallys).

    Thanks for all you do for this community.