Category Archives: Training

Experience or Certification?

Hand drawn Illustration of a white chicken and egg perched on a branch of a tree, set on a plain yellow coloured background.

Simon Howden –

While LinkedIn seems to have a low signal to noise ratio there are some good discussions. I think part of the problem is people like me. I’m willing to put myself out there. I try very hard not to miss-inform people as I learn, but I may make mistakes on occasion. The important thing to me as a creator is that I want to “own my thoughts.” As a reader on LinkedIn I’m leery of external links and people posting back to their own blogs. I’m generally willing to click it and see, but find myself more sensitive to sales and corporate sites this way than via other blogs.

All this is to say that it seems the always popular subject of Certifications versus Experience has come up recently. The responses are pretty much what you would expect from industry professionals. Experience is what really matters. Certifications don’t mean a person is good at a job. A general feel that certifications mean you can study for and pass a test, and not necessarily much else. Continue reading

Agile Will Not Cure Cancer

3d doctor men with medicine capsule

Boians Cho Joo Young –

There. I said it. Agile is not the be all, end all solution for your project woes. It’s not the ultimate answer to the question of building software. On-time, within budget, highest quality; these are no more promised in a project done via Agile methods than one done more classically.

One thing that really needs to be understood here is what is meant by “Agile.” I have seen people use the word Agile to refer specifically to Scrum more times than I can count. (Pro-tip: this is wrong, just wrong.) Many use Agile in reference to a family of tools. Agile is also used to denote a family of practices and procedures. This isn’t wrong per se, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.  Continue reading

A Beginner’s Guide to Planning Poker

I have written about estimation before. I have written about Planning Poker before. Today I am going to do a simple beginners guide to Planning Poker. The difference is that this guide is meant to be used by you. You could use it as a presentation presenting the idea of Planning Poker. Alternately it can be used to teach a team and run the first session. With that frame of reference in mind let’s get started.

How many of you like to estimate as a team? I do. I find it an easy process with lots of value for everyone involved. What if I taught you a method that will get your team rapidly reaching a consensus while estimating? These estimates will be accurate enough for iteration planning. As a side benefit, the team will have a better understanding of the product and its future direction. The process is lightweight enough to keep the team engaged. The end result is estimation meetings that are not dreaded by anyone. Continue reading

Back to the Basics: Agile Manifesto History

Currently one of the hottest trends in software development is implementing Scrum. Scrum is a specific framework that, while predating it, adheres to the Manifesto for Agile Software Development (the Manifesto). This is not surprising. Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland were two of the seventeen people whom came together and created the Manifesto. They had formally established Scrum as we know it today six years prior. The problem I see is people don’t understand why they implement Scrum or why Scrum has the roles, meetings, rules, and artifacts it does. The best way I know to start this dialog is with the Agile Manifesto.

This is the first part of a monthly (approximately) series of posts where I look into the Agile Manifesto. As Agilists this document is something we should be able to talk at length about. This is my attempt to break it down and remind us why we coach the behaviors we do whether in Scrum or not.

Continue reading

Back to the Basics: Prologue

“Fundamentals are the building blocks of fun.” – Ray & Molly (Dakota Fanning & Brittany Murphy), Uptown Girls 2003

If you haven’t seen the movie I forgive you. The quote is used twice. The first time by Ray (pre-teen girl) to justify herself (to Molly – her 20-something Nanny) spending a lot of time doing the same basic dance move over and over again instead of just having fun. The second time is by Molly to explain why she is taking an entry-level job in the fashion industry when her resume suggests she could skip ahead to a mid/high career level position. There are times when I read forums and blogs online where I feel as if Scrum is that higher level job or the more advanced dance moves. The problem is that successful Scrum should build on a Manifesto and Principles.

While reading a blog post by Mario Moreria I felt he may have found part of the root cause.  I have pointed out the danger of Agile being seen primarily as Scrum in previous posts. That post and my own thoughts inspired me to explore the heart of Agile. This week I am starting a series of posts that will go over what I consider to be Agile basics based on the Agile Manifesto and the twelve principles used to uphold it. Continue reading

PSM Versus CSM Revisited

Previously I talked about the differences between Certified Scrum Master and Professional Scrum Master. In that post I concluded that from a hiring stand-point they were functionally the same. The big difference comes for the person seeking the certification. One certification requires a class costing $1200 followed by a short, reportedly easy, test and the other requires a difficult test costing $100. Since the company just spent more than those totals combined to send me to PMI-ACP training followed by the exam fees I opted to self fund my certification. Lack of spare vacation days means I needed one that didn’t require 2 days of my time. As I ended that post I pointed out that my money is on the PSM. Continue reading


Many of us have heard the terms Agile and Scrum. If you have a similar background to me then you have heard them largely as a way to build software in a team environment. Established in 2011, PMI’s Agile Certified Practitioner certification looks beyond the confines of specific methodologies and past the boundaries of software projects and shows how they can benefit many types of projects while using any number of tools. I took an online course to prepare for the certification exam. While software development was the target for the majority of the course I took, there was an effort to point out that the methodology, and some specific tools and techniques, could apply to other types of projects.

Continue reading