What I suspected for a long time will happen just did: PMI has announced its agile certificate. This is a significant development for many reasons.
First of all it officially confirms agile’s position amongst respected management methods – as part of the mainstream. I wrote about it at length recently, so I’ll just point out here that PMI’s move spells the end of the “agile revolution” in one sense. Just like the Linux revolution before it agile came with a promise of radically reshaping the workplace. It will in some places, but overall (and just like Linux) it will not completely eradicate its older alternatives, but rather become one of them – another respectable, mature tool for managing projects/teams.
Some, more radical agilists will perceive it as a failure just like some Linux activists perceived the fact that Microsoft Windows is still with us as a failure. As agile becomes part of the norm it will cease to be revolutionary – revolutionaries will not be happy now, especially when they will see tie-wearing consultants prepare people for PMI’s agile cert exam.
For me it is a sign of agile’s success. This is how the body of knowledge in any field grows – from time to time there is a new trend, new idea that comes in but for the most part it doesn’t completely invalidate all of the methods and knowledge that was amassed before it arrived. Here we see the field of management being enriched with the integration of the agile approaches and techniques into it.
On the tactical/market level PMI’s move is a logical consequence of Scrum Alliance’s failure. Ken Schwaber’s departure in 2009 and events that surrounded it marked the end of Scrum Alliance as an energetic movement able to reshape the certs market and establish itself as a key provider of project management knowledge in the field of software development. The lack of leadership after Ken’s departure and shortsighted concentration on protecting revenue streams of existing CSTs have proven to be fatal mistakes not only for the Alliance, but for the Scrum movement as a whole. Ken’s new initiative – Scrum.org – had to be started from scratch and it may well turn out that it came too late to save Scrum certs as valuable propositions in the long run.
Whatever the future will bring PMI’s move is a game changer for all providers of agile certificates. Given PMI’s reputation, size and resources as well as experience in managing certifications it has a good chance to win the market for agile certs with its new offering. Of course it doesn’t change much for us, practitioners, ideology-agnostic pragmatic managers who will just continue to employ the best methods we know to get things done.