Navigating the Agile Training Landscape
It’s become pretty confusing these days. If you’re interested in advancing your Agile knowledge there are so many options. I often field questions from people asking me for help choosing the right class for them. Here is my subjective take on things… with a focus on the US market – but probably applicable to many other markets.
Start with the Why
In general, the first question is what are you looking for – What’s the job you’re hiring the agile training for…
Are you trying to strengthen your resume/CV to improve your attractiveness in the job market? Are you looking for improvement ideas for your team/organization?
Attending Agile Training to help you get the position you’re looking for
When it comes to job market attractiveness certification is important to most hiring companies and practitioners. I’m gonna avoid the discussion around whether that’s healthy/useful, that’s just the way things are these days. Being a “Certified Scrum Master” became the desired keyword in the agile world several years ago.
What we’re seeing these days is commoditization of the “Scrum Master” certificate with the focus moving in several directions
More professional/advanced Scrum Mastery
Scrum Master certifications that mean more than the “CSM” – More and more organizations are realizing that “Professional Scrum Master” assessments – especially PSM2, PSM3 are better indicators of Scrum Mastery than the trivial “CSM”. For example, The new Scrum.org Professional Scrum Master II workshop that comes together with the opportunity to take the PSM2 assessment is aimed at helping Scrum Masters raise their level of Scrum Mastery.
While the “Scrum Master” role leads in popularity people looking to take on a Product Owner role typically look for a Professional Scrum Product Owner workshop and some are interested in the PSPO1 assessment.
Enterprise Agility – The SPC is the new CSM…
Here, at least in the US, SAFe leads the pack and hiring companies are looking for people that have an understanding of how to implement SAFe and who are SAFe Program Consultants (SPCs)In every Implementing SAFe class I run about half the participants are Scrum Masters, Project Managers, Agile Coaches that are seeing more and more demand for SPCs out there and join the class to learn about SAFe and have the appropriate certification.
The Release Train Engineer (RTE) is the other SAFe certification that I’m seeing some demand for in the job market. The other certificates like “SAFe Agilist”, “SAFe Scrum Master”, “SAFe PO/PM” aren’t getting anywhere close to this level of traction in what I’m seeing. I’m seeing a lot of demand for Leading SAFe, SAFe Scrum Master, SAFe PO/PM in-house workshops for organizations implementing SAFe, but the certifications are secondary in these situations. So bottom line the Implementing SAFe / SPC class is probably your best bet as a starting point if you’re looking to get a coaching/facilitation position in a SAFe implementation. After you gain some SAFe experience the RTE workshop can be your next step.
What about other scaling approaches you ask? You will learn a lot in a Scrum at Scale or Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) workshop but when it comes to value in the job market – since most organizations in the US are using SAFe, these classes aren’t gonna help you that much…
Looking for ways to improve
If you’re interested in an Agile training workshop where you will get ideas for improvement for your team/organization the certificate won’t be as important to you.
You might still be interested in becoming a SAFe Program Consultant if you’re thinking of implementing SAFe and want to have the option of delivering some internal training yourself or having access to some of the power toolkits that SPCs have access to. (e.g. the Value Stream Workshop, Program Increment Toolkit, Executive Workshop).
Here I would recommend true lifelong learners explore other variants of enterprise agility as well – as I mentioned before there are some brilliant ideas in LeSS, Scrum@Scale, Nexus so if you have the time/energy go take one of these classes.
If you’re in charge of figuring out how to scale agile for your organization – how do you know which training to go for? As I mentioned before SAFe is the most popular approach. It might be the right choice for your organization or maybe another approach would work better. If you’re not sure, one way to approach this is to actually run an internal workshop to consider your options before diving deep into one of these frameworks. We’re frequently called into organizations to help them figure out their options.
Earlier this year for example I ran such a workshop for a client in Andover, MA. After considering their options we then started a SAFe implementation by running an internal Leading SAFe workshop, and by bringing several of their leaders/change agents to a public Implementing SAFe class.
Most of my clients btw combine an internal Leading SAFe workshop with a small crew attending a public Implementing SAFe/SPC workshop. An internal Implementing SAFe workshop makes sense when you have more than 12-14 people who are interested in becoming SPCs.
There’s actually an interesting phenomenon going on here. The most popular class people attend to learn about Scrum is the “Scrum Master” class whether it is the “Certified Scrum Master” or preferably the “Professional Scrum Master”.
One of the best ways to learn about Scrum is actually the “Professional Scrum Foundations” workshop – which is the lesser-known and less popular class that is aimed at people who are interested in becoming Scrum practitioners not necessarily Scrum Masters.
Product Managers/Business Analysts considering Scrum typically join a Professional Scrum Product Owner workshop.
Improving your Scrum
Scrum Masters and other leaders in a Scrum environment can look at the Scrum.org Professional Scrum Master II workshop to add some techniques to their Scrum Master toolkit and to learn advanced facilitation techniques such as Liberating Structures along the way.
In recent years more and more Scrum practitioners are adding flow-based techniques such as Kanban to their repertoire. The Scrum.org Professional Scrum with Kanban class and PSK1 assessment are catering to this audience – providing a consistent combination of Scrum and Kanban/Flow. (And speaking about being subjective – if you’re not aware I was part of the team behind this workshop and am one of the Flow/Kanban stewards at Scrum.org)
As you can see above, there are many options, and the right choice really depends on who you are and mainly what you’re trying to achieve. And I didn’t even cover all of the options… just the popular ones… You might also look at DevOps classes, deeper Kanban classes, Lean UX, Liberating Structures, Professional Agile Leadership, Professional Scrum Developer, Agile Project Management.
Hopefully, I did manage to give you some clarity on what might make sense for you. If you have any questions, comments, or have a scenario/context I didn’t cover above, please leave a comment or contact me directly.
as a final subjectivity comment – yes AgileSparks does offer some of the above workshops for open enrollment and some others mainly in-house.