The PMI Agile Certification Indicates that Agile has Crossed the Chasm
We hear a lot from our market analyst friends that Agile adoption has entered the mainstream. But how much faith can we really put in their words? After all, a big part of their mission is to make as big a market splash as possible for new ideas and concepts, especially when technology companies are eager to pay to position their latest, greatest mousetrap.
Certainly there are anecdotal signs of increasing agile adoption, but are Agile practices now mainstream practices? Has Agile crossed the chasm? And if a tipping point has been reached, how would we know? Well one big indication is the new Project Management Institute (PMI) Agile Certification.
The PMI is by far the world’s largest professional organization for project managers. It also takes the broadest view of the project management profession. As a non-profit organization that is mostly run by volunteers, its mission and every program it initiates reflect the interests in aggregate of the collective membership. So when this organization does something different, there could hardly be a better indication that something different has happened in the project management profession.
And what is new and different is the PMI Agile certification. First and foremost, the PMI exists to establish and sustain project managers as professionals and the cornerstone of its strategy to do so is the PMI professional certification. So when the PMI adds an Agile certification program it’s a little like the Catholic church changing Canon Law. This is all the more surprising given that the Agile movement formally began much like the Protestant movement did with the nailing of the Agile manifesto on the door of the Church of traditional practices -- a church with a Bible named PMBOK, the PMI’s orthodoxy of project management practices.
For many early Agilists, PMBOK was the poster child for what was wrong with project management. The Agile approach was the “solution” to the “problem” of traditional practices. One key example: detailed plan-driven projects, foundational to PMBOK, are anathema to the Agile way.
So the fact that these two movements are aligned indicates something significant has changed.
What have not changed are Agile practices and principles. They are the same practices and principles today as they were ten years ago at their formal inception. What has changed is that a much broader segment of the population recognizes the legitimacy and value of Agile practices. Agile practices are not a fad. Nor are they curiosity tools that a hobbyist buys on impulse and then tucks away but, like a screwdriver or a wrench, Agile practices are essential tools that project managers will use every day.
And once the PMI added the Agile certification to the PMBOK toolbox, Agile pracgtices crossed over into the mainstream in a very real way.
The PMI has embraced Agile project management and is the first to admit that by doing so they enrich the entire project manager community of practice. Does PMBOK have anything to offer the Agile community of practice?