Some thoughts from Chet Hendrickson on the CSD program.

One of the curses of Agile Software Development is the way in which it exposes a team’s weaknesses. Time and again we see teams that can’t, or at least don’t get their promised work done by iteration’s end. We see designs that start out so complex that they quickly collapse under their own weight. We see designs that are so random that they can barely be called designs. We see woefully inadequate developer testing and non-existent customer testing.

It is sad to admit, but most of us just aren’t very good programmers.

For every programmer reading and trying to apply the lessons of Bob Martin or Kent Beck’s latest book, there are hundreds of programmers sitting in their cube doing their best Wally imitation.

This is a big problem and improving the situation will be difficult. Doing anything about it will require a multi-pronged approach.

Today’s most popular tactic is ‘preaching to the choir’. Some industry name tweets or blogs, or sometimes writes an article, bemoaning the lack of skill among some group of developers they have just observed. (What I am writing here is a good example.)

‘Preaching to the choir’ is a good way to look like you are doing something, without actually accomplishing much.

It doesn’t accomplish much, because the guys who are the problem aren’t reading the articles. Remember, they are in their cube doing their Wally imitations.

What we are doing now isn’t working. If we care about the state of software development technical practice, we need to try some new stuff.

A thing that Ron and I are trying is our new Agile Developer Skills course. We are offering that course in support of the Scrum Alliance’s new Certified Scrum Developer program.

We all know that a certificate doesn’t make you a better developer. There thousands of Certified Java this’s and Certified Microsoft that’s out there that can’t program themselves out of a wet paper bag. But at least they know some syntax. They know, or at least knew, a little more than they knew before. And that is a good thing.

No, certifications aren’t the answer, but training is part of the answer. And, no one can argue that certifications don’t help get butts in seats.

Over fifty thousand people have taken a CSM course. Maybe a few hundred took Object Mentor’s XP Immersion course.

There is no question that the XP Immersion was a great course. If you ever run across someone who took it, they will still tell you what at great experience it was. But in the average month, more people take a CSM course than took the XP Immersion in two years.

Part of the reason is the Certification. We shouldn’t let the word get in our way, if using it means improving the quality of technical practice in our profession.

Should we believe that someone with a certification is always better thansomeone without one? Of course not.

Should companies rely on a certification program to weed out bad job applicants? Don’t be silly.

Should we use every tool at our disposal to increase the skill level of our profession? You bet your ass, we should.

The CSD is not a panacea; it is one more arrow in our quiver.

When you get done mocking it, tell me what you are doing to raise awareness among the Wallys of the world. Something that isn’t just preaching to the choir.