Agile Coach Certifications and ACI


Agile Coach Certifications and ACI

The mission of Agile Coaching Institute has always been to develop agile coaches into the change agents we know they want to be, and that today’s organizations desperately need.  To this end, we have focused on creating a “pathway” for agile coach development and have been working over the past two years with certification organizations.  Our dream is that there is a common set of competencies across certification organizations that can be used by multiple training providers as a single point of reference, just as it is done with integrity and rigor in the professional coaching world (for example, see the Competencies and Ethics defined by the International Coach Federation).

While we won’t count chickens before they are hatched, we see some awfully good looking eggs out there.

Michael and I kicked off 2013 by participating in a working group, hosted by ICAgile, to create the themes and learning objectives for the Enterprise Agile Coach level.  That work is on-going, but the initial in-person sessions were exceptionally productive and I like where we’re headed.  I think you will, too.  We were joined by Pete Behrens, one of the creators of the Scrum Alliance’s Certified Scrum Coach designation, who brought a wealth of knowledge and cross-pollination.

In 2011, Michael and I participated in a working group, again hosted by ICAgile, to create the themes and learning objectives for the Agile Team Facilitator (read basic ScrumMaster) and Agile Coach levels.  That work is being refactored a bit, but the learning objectives will remain quite similar to what is currently published. Learn More.

ICAgile’s learning objectives are under Creative Commons which means that ICAgile wants other organizations to use them.  Nothing proprietary there.  That’s one reason we like working on this — it brings us one step (possibly) closer to our dream of a common set of competencies we can all use.

Scrum Alliance
We intend that our courses will be part of the Scrum Alliance’s learning path to help people achieve their Certified Scrum Professional (CSP) and their Certified Scrum Coach (CSC) designations.  The Coaching Agile Teams (CAT) class is being considered as one of the courses you could choose to attain your CSP.  One step at a time…we’ll let you know when there is specific progress to report, which we expect will be soon.

Not your typical certifications
Note that what both ICAgile and the Scrum Alliance have in mind are multi-step credentials.  There is no “take one class and get blessed” idea here.  All of these credentials will be harder to attain than the entry-level designations like CSM.   When you take one of our courses, you will receive a “class certification,” which is one important step of several toward attaining a certification.  Further details will be available from ICAgile and the Scrum Alliance as those organizations further clarify these new pathways.

What if I don’t care about certifications?
If you don’t care about certifications, then don’t worry about all this shuckin-and-jivin.  Just use the learning objectives defined as a guide for your own learning path. Take the courses and do the reading that’s going to benefit you the most, knowing that you have an industry reference-point to help you know what you don’t (yet) know.

What if I’m one of the people ACI has already trained?
If you are one of the 1,000+ people who have invested your learning path with ACI, know that we have been thinking about you.  What you have already learned applies.  Nothing is wasted.  On the other side of the coin, there is more learning to attain.  As the certification edition of the CAT class expands to 3-days of material, there will be additional learning topics to cover.  For CAT, we envision offering interactive, distance learning sessions to “pick up” additional topics that make up the extra day’s worth of material.  We have a couple different formats envisioned and will seek your input soon.

How will we work this in 2013?
In 2013, our standard offering is the 2-day CAT class, with the option to take the distance-learning portion for the “3rd day” topics to attain the class certification.  We will offer the 3-day CAT version only when specifically requested and supported by a corporate client.  We are taking a Lean Start-Up approach, so right now this is a working hypothesis.

ACI’s bar is even higher
Well beyond what is currently envisioned with the certification organizations, ACI envisions what it means to be competent as a transformational agile coach, our speciality.  We, ourselves, have been through certification programs in the professional coaching world that truly build competence and raise one’s level of leadership and presence. We know how to create this type of certification immersion for our students.  We imagine a select few will care to develop that high level of competence, and our job is to serve them.  We like to think of this group of agile coaches as akin to the Navy Seals or the Green Berets.

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  • Jonathan Kessel-Fell
    Posted at 08:24h, 16 October

    Hi Lyssa,

    I have to agree with both comments above. Thanks for a great bit of guidance but like Jason I have concerns around ‘class certification’ and your link to Scrum Alliance.

    We have taken the approach which requires a high score exam pass, not just attending a class, to become certified. As such we are not on ‘the path’ and wondered if you were planning on doing anything with

    Also as an Agile Coach do you need some independence from Scrum as there will be certain teams where a Kanban approach may be more productive? Would welcome your thoughts.

    • Lyssa
      Posted at 16:22h, 11 November

      I, too, have a really hard time accepting a world that issues a “certification” based on attending a class. As someone who went through a rigorous 9 month certification prep process to really build competence in Professional coaching, I know the value of a real, honest certification program. I have also had the experience of obtaining the PMP which felt like “study for the test, take the test, then forget everything you ‘learned.'” Two very different poles.

      My idea is that Agile Coaching Institute will participate with ALL the various certification organizations out there. The allegiance is to the learning path that helps develop great agile coaches, not to any one of the available certifications. For ACI, the learning path is where it’s at:

      This learning path was created by a working group convened by ICAgile but is **creative commons**. Open to everyone.

      ACI already participates with Scrum Alliance, ICAgile (which is agile method agnostic) and would be possible, too.

      ps. The ICAgile approach to certs is getting us one step closer to the real, rigorous experience I had with Professional Coaching. Their ICAgile Expert level requires someone to prove competence directly linked to the learning objectives. The requirements and the bar are transparent to all (and take competence to achieve).

  • Peter Green
    Posted at 12:16h, 28 January

    Hi Lyssa,

    I just wanted to add a note here to say thanks for all that you and Michael (and Pete, and Alistair, and others) are doing to lead the effort here. It’s wonderful and it’s needed. I look forward to seeing more!

    Also, I LULd at the phrase “don’t worry about all this shuckin-and-jivin”. It is SO you guys!

  • Jason Little
    Posted at 07:54h, 28 January

    The first thing that leapt out to me was ‘class certification’

    I can see how folks against certification might mis-interpret the intent because of the use of the ‘certicifaction’ word. That said, I love the focus on the enterprise level coach. I’ve spent most of my short career in that space and its a completely different animal requiring a broader skill set than coaching a solitary team. Can’t wait to see how that progresses.

    I’m a fan of what you and Michael are doing to advance the craft!