I haven’t written about Disciplined Agile in a while. And for good reason – there really isn’t much to write about. In fact, things are so quiet that I am pretty sure that PMI is quietly killing off Disciplined Agile.
Why Is PMI Killing Off Disciplined Agile?
Perhaps it is not Intentional
It could be completely unintentional. It is possible that PMI is not agile enough to nurture and launch a new certification like Disciplined Agile. This reason will make sense if you look at all the newer certifications from PMI that have gained little or no traction in the market.
Check out the list of non-PMP certifications below and the net increase in the last two years. Only the 11-year-old PMI-ACP has done moderately well and even that is nowhere near the success of the Project Management Professional (PMP).
Perhaps it was a lack of promotion. When was the last time you heard anything about the DA Certifications from PMI? It’s all crickets on DA since Mark Lines, Scott Ambler and Alan Shalloway all took their payout and exited PMI.
Perhaps it was the structure of Disciplined Agile itself that made it difficult. Unlike the PMI-ACP, training and certification for Disciplined Agile required an Authorized Training partner. After paying the annual fees for Authorized Training Partners ($6,999 or $9,999) and the course material fees of $180 per student, there is little margin left for partners.
Perhaps it was the requirement that those who achieve the Discipline Agile certifications need to re-certify (i.e. pay PMI) every year. I wrote about my own exasperation in, Why I did not Renew My PMI, Agile and Scrum Certifications.
Maybe PMI is Killing Disciplined Agile on Purpose
Or perhaps it is intentional. There is a strong argument for this. Who wants to cannibalize the growth of the PMP cash cow in favor of modern ways of working? Isn’t this the innovator’s dilemma?
Lending credence to this view is the fact that PMI incorporated significant amounts of agile content into the PMBOK Guide. The 2021 release of the Seventh Edition contains significantly fewer prescriptions and more agile ways of working. The 2017 Agile Practice Guide has been incorporated into the appendix of the PMBOK Guide and a new chapter, The Project Manager’s Role in Agile, has been added. And Agile content has been incorporated throughout.
However, the theory that PMI is killing Disciplined Agile on purpose is inconsistent with a recent LinkedIn post from current PMI President and CEO, Pierre Le Manh. Le Manh touted the benefits of Disciplined Agile in his post. It is one of the few times I have heard anyone from PMI promote the DA certifications.
Is it possible that Le Manh is trying to throw us off his trail?
PMI Disciplined Agile Certifications Just Aren’t Popular
The Disciplined Agile Certifications have faired poorly as I have discussed in several posts, including the 2021 Update on PMI DA, and the more recent, Where is the Wow Now?
The chart below shows the most recent stats for the DA certifications as of March 31, 2023.
So in the nearly 4 years since PMI purchased Disciplined Agile, they’ve registered 9,500 certifications. Meanwhile, Scrum.org and Scrum Alliance each log more certifications than this every month.
Bottom Line – PMI and Agile Certifications
The handwriting is on the wall. Either by neglect or intention, the Disciplined Agile certifications from PMI are dying.
Please do us all a favor and call the time of death. It would be a mercy killing.
Great post, and wonderful to see any post with facts to back up the narrative. Your professional speculation sounds credible, but one thing is for sure, the needs of average Joe PMs don’t appear to be high on the priority list for these decisions. It seems more to be about “share of voice”, market share and $$. I was surprised when PMI bought DA, but on reflection, it wasn’t buying into Agile concepts – it was buying into the Agile market share of spend and the firehose of Agile interest. The Empire struck back! What else could they do. But over time the truth comes out. Waterfall is a myth, Agile is a Brand and methodologies are a paradox. What are you gonna do?
Perhaps not all voices are being heard, Anthony. With sympathy for the plight of registered education partners, you might agree that PMI has never shown much interest in whether other educational and certification partners profited very much. The voice that we might be missing, and certainly PMI is not promoting, is that of the practitioners… who can attest as to whether DA has been any value to them, and their organizations. That might be undeniably valuable subject matter for Agile Vitality. For my personal experience, you are absolutely right: scrum certifications ARE more popular in the six thousand agile activists in my own organization. BECAUSE THEY ARE SO MUCH EASIER. The question should be: can we allow the Customers of such “experts” continue to accept this questionable level of credential? Could this be a reason, or at least a contributing factor, to the dismal number of “agile” endeavors that don’t meet expectations, and represent the real threat to Agile? Maybe we should all step up to renewing our PMI certifications… and ask our peers why they are not.
Great questions Steve, thank you for weighing in. Yes I would agree that the introductory certifications for PMI are more challenging than those from Scrum Alliance. I don’t know if I agree that making them easier is more attractive. Personally I favor the Scrum.org courses and certifications. They feel more meaningful when you have to pass the exam.
Thanks for taking the time to make a comment!
Just WOW, Anthony. Time to pack n go! I’m sure we have a SAFety net!
Oh my, that’s just really bad, but yet not beneath me!
Once again, Anthony, we may be more in agreement. But not fully. I work every day with dozens of scrum masters and even “Agile Masters”. What is clear over and over is that qualifications from two-day courses are not adequate. And in many cases, damaging to the trusting and innocent team members. Perhaps that is a strength of PMI’s Disciplined Agile. That is, PMI-ACP and DASSM are NOT introductory. They demand a commitment… require both academic and self-development… and provide wide inclusion of agile practices and methods as small as scrum and as big as SAFe. With respect, Anthony, if you and I want Agile to be relevant, we must ask ourselves for the same levels of discipline in our art that we expect from our teams in theirs.
Great insights Steve and thank you for sharing. I apologize for the delay in posting this to the article – it was lost in my inbox.