Can you certify a Mindset?


There are a lot of discussions around the Agile Community about certifications. Most people with a lot of Agile experience don’t give anything about a certificate for attending a two day , or longer, training course. But why? You can do a certification for Scrum, for professional communication, for different coaching techniques. But what conclusiveness has a certification when you get one just for attending a training or even after doing a test about what you have learned?

certificationA certification is just a confirmation that you know some rules, skills, styles or techniques. But it has absolutely no significance about understanding and living the mindset which is beyond the topic. You’ve learned some basic rules, some techniques, styles or some basic knowledge and perhaps you did some novice practice. It’s like doing the driving license. You know the rules on the street, you know the meaning of traffic signs and that you are not allowed to drive faster than 50kmh in a city. It’s like having a starter kit, not more. The statistics reveal that most accidents on the streets are made by young people between 18 and 25 – in germany. All these people have a driving license but not enough experience and practice when it comes to challenging situations in traffic or they just overrate traffic situations or even themselves. They have a driving license and are allowed to drive a car on public roads. But for participating in the Formula 1 you need more than a driving license. You need lots of practice and years of experience to be a good driver.
And even people with years of experience in driving cars are still after years no safe or even good drivers.

On the other side of the coin, there are people having a lot of experience and practice in what they are doing but did never participate in a  certification program. They are enthusiastic and passionate about what they are doing. They have the mindset of giving their best, do continuous learning and practicing and are just professionals in their area of responsibility.

mind knowledgeSo, what’s the value of a certification? As already mentioned, a certification is an official confirmation, a starter kit for having some knowledge about basic assumptions for a special role or practice or a confirmation of certain characteristics of an object or an organization. But it gives absolutely no information about the mindset of a person or an organization if the values, which drives the certain special topic which is certificated has really a high level importance for them. In addition, it depends on what you are doing with the knowledge you’ve gained or confirmed by doing a certification.

I think certifications are important, I did several! But if they are only used for making money with certification programs, which is not unusual, than a certification is a waste of money and probably a waste of time as it is the mindset which drives people and organizations. And a mindset can not be certified but you can live it and that’s what is more important than having a certification!

What is your opinion? Please leave a comment and let me know what you think about certifications, I’m highly interested to gather some opinions about that topic.

Striving for Excellence in an Agile environment

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Doing Retrospectives and following the ‘inspect and adapt’ mechanism is one of the most important and effective tools and outcome of being Agile, following Agile rules or doing Scrum.
What kind of Retrospectives do you know? Most people think of Sprint Retrospectives, Kaizen or Lessons Learned after doing or finishing a Project or in a medical context.
I want to concentrate on Retrospectives in an Agile environment, especially doing a Sprint Retrospective in Scrum. I think this is the most familiar kind of Retrospectives in an Agile context. It help Teams to improve constantly on their performance and behaviour.

But how do ScrumMasters and ProductOwners or even Agile Coaches improve their work and behaviour?

It make sense to ask for Feedback after every Meeting. This is a kind of short-termed improvement what really make sense. In addition, I recommend to do Retrospectives for ScrumMasters and ProductOwners on a regular base. You do Retrospectives with your Team after each Sprint what give Teams the Chance to look back, inspect and adapt – the core mechanism of change to strive for excellence.

If you are a ScrumMaster or ProductOwner, or even an Agile Coach, you should use the same machanism for your own improvement and striving for excellence. You don’t have to do that after each Sprint. But you can do a Retrospective regular on a three-month period. All what you need is a Facilitator so that you can participate the Retrospective by your own. You can ask a ScrumMaster of another Team to run such a Retrospective. The core Topic should be something like ‘how to improve the skills of our ScrumMaster/ProductOwner/Coach’ or something similar according to your experiences of the last quarter.

This does not only give you the possiblity to particpate a Retrospective by your own. It is a great chance to receive Feedback from your Team or other invited Stakeholders on a differnt level than getting Feedback for facilitating just a meeting! It is the chance for yourself to look back, inspect and adapt and improve your personal work, skills, behaviour and MindSet!

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