Michal Vallo
4 min readJun 11, 2024

Does certified “driving license” matter?

Would you lend your car to someone who has no driving license? It’s a strange question, especially in 2011. Your first reaction will probably be „Of course not!“ Or yes? No? Maybe not? I don’t know? …

Some years ago, when I became managing director of an IT company, I was surprised by the poor level of knowledge our employees have had at all levels. I was expecting more from people who work in a dynamically developing industry (IT specialists). Not only in knowledge but also in professional skills. It is indeed difficult to compete in a knowledge economy without knowledge! Even a small IT company costs millions of euros, and such a situation was the source of heavy losses for us. I started to press on increasing our qualifications (knowledge). The defensive reaction of my former colleagues surprised me. It was like: „… but having a title means nothing. It is just a piece of paper … we had seen many people with certificates, but they just got it the way ….“. I insisted and got the change. It paid off.

Since that time, I faced similar reactions many times, not only while hiring, in the communities, or at conferences but also in discussion forums, especially those agile ones. The reaction is practically identical. However, I do not change my opinion on that. For doing business in the knowledge economy, we need knowledge!

In the transport industry, it is similar. However, there are at stake properties since ordinary cars cost tens of thousands of euros. In the worst case, life is at stake, too. That is why society has created rules that we have to follow. Following the rules must be monitored and sometimes enforced. Those who want to join need to learn those rules firsthand (knowledge), get basic skills (car school), and obtain certificate as a proof (driving license). One improves his skills by practicing them, and for all his actions, he carries full financial liability. Anyone can do business providing car school. However, one needs to get experience and permission first (legislation). In the transport industry, the certificate is an element of safety. Not the one and only. But certainly an important one. This way is safety and property protection secured for us all.

In the case of agile teams, the situation is similar. If we want results, we need to know and follow the rules. Following the rules must be monitored (Agile Coach) and sometimes enforced (Management). Those who want to join in should learn the rules first (knowledge), gain basic skills (workshop, university), and obtain a certificate, as proof (e.g. Certified Scrum Master). Further skills one gets by practicing but for his actions, he carries absolutely no financial liability! Anyone can do business providing training, however one needs to get experience and …. and nothing. There is no „legislation“. There are private organizations there that help define the rules however their following is voluntary. Certificate is in management of agile teams an element of safety for companies. Not the one and only, but certainly important one, as there is property not secured in any other way.

Is it important? The Scrum team consists of approx. 7 people. Including Scrum Master. Expenses for such a team often significantly exceed 40.000 euros. Not once forever, but MONTHLY!

So, would you lend your car to someone who does not possess a driving license? And what about your development team? Would you lend your team to someone who does not possess „a driving license“?

Addition — added 18.05.2012 — The Driver License

“Herr Benz” might be considered the first recipient of a German driving license. In 1888 he was issued with a permit from the Mannheim district offices of the Grand Duchy of Baden, authorizing him to undertake “experimental drives with his patent motor car.” Almost 20 years later, in 1909, the driver’s license was officially introduced throughout the German Empire as proof of “a car driver’s competence.” The Berlin journalist Carl von Ossietzky wrote in 1928 that a driver’s license had greater value than a doctorate. Today, it remains for young people a rite of passage into the adult world.

Source: Showroom display, Mercedes-Benz Museum, Stuttgart, Germany

Article originally published on 13th June 2011 at the server Agilia.cz

About the author: Michal Vallo is dedicated to building human learning organizations as a precondition for Agile adoption. He shares his experience with HR departments and managers who are in desperate need of radical innovation. He has experience from both sides, which led him to create better recruitment practices and the course Agile Recruiter. Michal helps managers understand agile techniques, benefit from their adoption, and consequently radically improve organizational performance. Feel free to contact him if you need help with your HR department or agilization of your organization.

Michal Vallo

Building human organizations (www.michalvallo.eu) Chair in Agilia Conference / Agile Management Congress - inspiring people w/ new ideas to grow their business.