The Evolution of Digital Credentials

Certifications continue to appear weekly in all sorts of knowledge work. Since late 2018, we've been providing digital credentials and here's what we've learned, and what's next.
January 28, 2020
Jason is the author of Lean Change Management and founder of the Lean Change Management Association and Spark the Change Toronto

It’s been 18 months since we launched our digital credential program. While certifications in the agile and change communities continue to be as popular as the backlash against them, here’s the original reasons we decided to choose digital credentials over a traditional certification model:

  • knowledge mattered much more before the internet made it free, and all certifications granted after two days, or even a week, are knowledge-based
  • certifying people after two days set an expectation of a certain level of competency with potential employers in a given topic which is not possible
  • learning on demand, micro-education, and having support systems through community and sharing stories creates a more enriching learning experience.
  • Attending a class is one small piece of developing competence. People should be given a small token of appreciation for applying what they learned, sharing stories, and spreading knowledge
  • multi-level certifications are linear. Creative problem-solving in today’s business world requires non-linear paths for people to become “T-Shaped”, or “TTT-Shaped”:. That is, broad knowledge in many areas, in-depth knowledge in a few.
  • Non-linear paths, or Pathways, show people possibilities of what they might want to look at next.
  • By using the Open Badge standard, people can add badges from any knowledge brand to their backpacks

Since we launched our program, we’ve issued over 1500 digital credentials.

 

This is what we’ve learned:

  • people are less likely to apply for digital credentials with a high barrier of entry (IE: badges that require case studies, interview and more to validate the application of the ideas)
  • 55% of badge earners pick-up their badges for attending workshops (after completion, attendees are sent a link to claim their badge)
  • 95% of people who apply for a badge pick it up and put it in their backpack.
  • <10% share their badge on social channels
  • ‘most’ people who ask about a harder to earn badge say they want it and end up not doing the work to earn it
  • people who want the credentials are generally the same people that want certifications – they want acknowledgment and a small reward for status
  • experienced change agents that can more or less pick and choose their work are more likely to complain about digital credentials or certifications

A couple of weeks ago, we launched the next evolution of our digital credential program:

  • 4 categories (Knowledge, Application, Ambassador, and Milestone)
  • Multiple levels for Knowledge, Application, and Ambassador badges (easy, medium, hard)
  • 1 Milestone badge that requires various badges from each category and level

The intent is the same: show learners multiple pathways to gaining knowledge and experience with Lean Change Management and to give small rewards to people who are supporters of the Lean Change Management community (IE: some people incur their own cost and time to run meetups and deserve a thank you!)

What’s Changing Today?

Today we’re changing the milestone badge Certified Lean Change Management Practitioner to Lean Change Management Practitioner.

You can read my stream of consciousness about why that decision came to be here

The main reason for making this change was that I was not being true to my values when I decided to evolve the program. I was taking the easy way out and aligning to a model that I’ve been quite vocal against for well over a decade.

While we do now offer IC Agile’s Coaching Agile Transitions certification course, it’s still one of the lowest badges obtainable in the Lean Change Management ecosystem. After attending the workshop, attendees receive a knowledge-based credential only.

Plenty of organiations from Adobe, IBM, various universities, and other training organiations have been using digital credentials for years. The trend will continue into the future as we understand that learning isn’t a linear process, and digital credentials show multiple pathways to explore and increase one’s skills.

We’re excited with this new evolution and there’s many more interesting experiments coming this year!

1 Comment

  1. Bruno Monteiro

    I enjoyed this reflection, Jason. I’ve been doing some groundwork on the same topic (and collective knowledge), just applied to software engineering career paths. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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