At the end of April I became certified in Agile Practices by the Project Management Institute. There is nothing magic about a certification. What the PMI-ACP does for me is show that I have experience in Agile practices, gained enough book knowledge along the way, took an official Agile Methodologies class, continue to learn more via approved learning methods, and care enough about all of it to spend money showing the accomplishments. While that last one is technically true it is not exactly proven by the certification. In fact, my employer reimbursed me for both the class and test. (In my defense I only learned that this would happen after I committed to making it happen.)
What does matter is what happens next in my professional life. How do I use this in my career?
In February I started to study Agile. I learned the history of Agile, the ACP, and various agile frameworks. I learned the meaning behind the words. I learned the why and how of different Agile methods. At the same time I started to undertake a change in my perspective on what we do and why. I started to become an advocate of Agile. What the certification did for me at the end of April was provide authority at work.
Agile works best as a top-down initiative. Upper management sees some benefit and decides to move the development arm of the organization that direction. They then work with group and team management/leaders to create a plan. Maybe it includes a pilot group, maybe not. A consultant from outside with Agile experience and training gets brought in as an Agile Coach to assist the transition. That is not how it is happening here.
The organization introduced Scrum ideas and patterns a few years back. As I learned about Agile and Scrum I learned we truly implemented some ideas and patterns, not Scrum. Nobody knows the “why” of Scrum. There has been little to no time spent on the how. There are pieces that were completely left out. The result is a development organization that uses some Scrum terminology, patterns, and artifacts but is largely running as gated/iterative waterfall. The last four months have seen me attempting to move the team I am on from this to an Agile pilot program.
This is not an easy process. It is not a matter of changing some meetings, giving a presentation, calling it a day, and returning to my development work. It is also not just a personal vendetta. It is a transformation being undertaken to increase value to the business (our customer). It is a vision shared by our project manager. It has acceptance bordering on support from our group director. Our attempts to move this direction are not being hindered. People outside of our team are noticing our progress, in some cases better than team members. The project manager for other teams in our group is starting to look at what we are doing. We are starting to feel like we are actually in transition to Agile.