Becoming an agile practioner : PMI -ACP guidance

Due to a confluence of factors, individuals and organizations are rushing to become agile. One of the visible factors driving this dash to agility is the publicly stated desire  of most organizations to become more digital – become more software driven, by building and operating their business products as either purely digital products or physical products with a large digital component. And since  the “Agile” way of working is the only successful way of conceiving, developing and operating  successful digital products, becoming agile has become fundamental to becoming a digital organization.  As a consequence their is an explosion of organizational demand for individuals with agile knowledge and skills.


To address this organizational demand, their is an accompanying explosion in the supply of agile education, training and certifications with an ever growing list of agile certifications (CSM, PSM, Safe, Kanban professional…. the list goes on). Most certifications are valuable, as they are focused on specific agile methodologies, and provide the practices for working in an agile way. However, the down side of this methodology focused certifications is that agile methodologies practitioners end up having a narrow and rigid understanding of Agile, and as a result struggle to adapt agile practices within their organization’s unique context. To become a effective agile practitioner i.e. one who can effectively lead and participate in an organization’s journey to becoming agile, an agile practitioner needs to have both methodology specific training as well as a methodology agnostic agile education.

The PMI – ACP ( Project management institute’s Agile certified practitioner) offers this broad methodology agnostic training and education. So, aspiring agile practitioners who want to move beyond agile speak, and become agile in applying agile, should use the PMI – ACP exam as a key component of their agile learning plan.

The other benefit of using PMI – ACP as a key component for learning Agile is this: Agile is a big tent and is constantly growing with new methodologies – Design thinking, Lean start up, Lean UX, DevOps, Continuous delivery, SRE, ITIL 4.0 – continually emerging. While the current PMI – ACP certification doesn’t include these approaches, it provides performance areas ( domains) that allow a learner to incorporate these methodologies and associated practices into one or more of these performance domains. An agile practitioner using this learning approach will have the best of both worlds – a continued holistic understanding of Agile and flexible structure for learning existing and emerging agile methodologies.

As the PMI ACP examination outline illustrates, by focusing on the (performance) domains and the associated tasks, a learner gets a holistic understanding of Agile, as well as a pathway for learning and effectively applying, both existing and emerging Agile methodologies.( Source : PMI Agile Certified Practioner (PMI-ACP) Examination Content Outline)

Domain I. Agile Principles and Mindset
Explore, embrace, and apply agile principles and mindset within the context of the project team and organization.
Domain II. Value-Driven Delivery
Deliver valuable results by producing high-value increments for review, early and often, based on stakeholder priorities. Have the stakeholders provide feedback on these increments,and use this feedback to prioritize and improve future increments.
Domain III. Stakeholder Engagement
Engage current and future interested parties by building a trusting environment that alignstheir needs and expectations and balances their requests with an understanding of thecost/effort involved. Promote participation and collaboration throughout the project lifecycle and provide the tools for effective and informed decision making.
Domain IV. Team Performance
Create an environment of trust, learning, collaboration, and conflict resolution that promotes team self-organization, enhances relationships among team members, and cultivates a culture of high performance.
Domain V. Adaptive Planning
Produce and maintain an evolving plan, from initiation to closure, based on goals, values,risks, constraints, stakeholder feedback, and review findings.
Domain VI. Problem Detection and Resolution
Continuously identify problems, impediments, and risks; prioritize and resolve in a timely manner; monitor and communicate the problem resolution status; and implement process improvements to prevent them from occurring again.
Domain VII. Continuous Improvement (Product, Process, People)
Continuously improve the quality, effectiveness, and value of the product, the process, and the team

The Agile principles and mindset is the most difficult part of doing Agile well, but also the most critical successs factor to doing it well. So, in a subsequent post, we will deep dive into the Agile mindset.

PS: Also, look out for upcoming PMI ACP training workshops.

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