A proposed check’n'balance for certifications

Earlier today, I found myself talking to Andrew Shafer and Corey Haines about certification. Certifications provided by people who make good money off them beg for distrust. So do certifications of courses or trainers when the certifiers get revenue from that activity. On balance, I think we’d have been better off without the certifications we have, and I agree with the Agile Alliance’s position on certification. (Disclosure: I was the main author.)

However. Here we are, aren’t we?

To improve the current situation, I propose the following, roughly inspired by Consumer’s Union.

  • There should be an Agile Alliance program that applies to all courses, not just those that provide certifications.

  • This program will, with the Agile Alliance’s money, send spies to sign up for courses. They will anonymously write up detailed evaluations that will be posted on the Agile Alliance website.

  • It will also interview a random sample of course attendees. The ones contacted just after the course will be asked for their evaluation. The ones contacted a year after the course will be asked how valuable, in retrospect, the course was. These results will also be posted on the site.

  • These interviews and ratings will, over time, allow the writing of summary articles like the ones Consumer Reports Magazine runs. Expect articles about “What to Expect from a Certified ScrumMaster” or “How to select a TDD course”.

  • Those running the program will pay careful attention to maintaining the trust of their readers.

It’s possible I’d participate in this. I have no desire to run it. I don’t care that much.

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