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InfoQ Homepage News Debate: Is Scrum Master Certification Good for the Agile Community?

Debate: Is Scrum Master Certification Good for the Agile Community?

The certification debate has surfaced again. The members of the Industrial XP mailing list have been discussing whether the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) program is good or bad for our community. Ken Schawber, Joshua Kerievsky, Robert Martin, and many others have weighed in on this discussion with very diverse opinions. Is certification a gimmick to make money or does it provide needed assurance in coaching quality for larger companies?

Joshua Kerievsky wrote about a recent experience with customer perception of CSM:
I was talking with a senior director and we were discussing their outsourcing vendor. They've worked with this vendor for years and have nice things to say about them. She said that this vendor had recently told her that their people were "Certified ScrumMasters." I couldn't have been more delighted to hear that, as it allowed for the following chat:

JK: Great, so they are CSMs! Now, do you happen to know what it takes to become a CSM?

Director: I have no idea.

JK: Ok, just make an educated guess. What do you think those folks had to do to get "certified."

Director: Well, I guess they had to study for 2 weeks and then go somewhere to take a test.

And there it was! She'd fallen into the exact deception of this "faux certification" that is the CSM.
A different point of view was given by Ken Schwaber:
We certify that we have exposed them to their job as a change agent using Scrum, and the obstacles and practices that they use to make these changes. We work very hard to give them insights that will help them help their clients, insights that are hard to achieve. Most classes are primarily exercises, to drive these lessons home in ways that are impossible to test. Anyone can give an answer; it is much harder to understand your own motivations and how they will affect your actions in improving our profession.
The majority of the contributors who voiced their opinions over the last few weeks were against certification and felt that it provides a false impression of quality. This issue is not going away, but it is not clear what, if anything, will be done. What is clear is that our community will continue to feel this and other growing pains as more organizations look to adopt Agile.

The IXP list is a members-only list, worth joining for readers interested in serious discussion on XP and related Agile methods.

Related news: In February, InfoQ reported on the agile certification debate that took place in the Agile Chronicles.

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