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InfoQ Homepage News Agile Certification beyond the CSM...

Agile Certification beyond the CSM...

Scott Ambler voices his opinions on the topic of Agile certification in his report about Certification in the agile workplace. Scott reflects on different styles of certification based around the effort required to achieve them, and broaches the topic of the controversial Scrum Master certification (CSM).

Scott goes on to say:
From discussions on several mailing lists, it is very clear that people who aren't a CSM recognize the deception, people who are CSMs recognize the deception, and even the CSM trainers recognize the deception. Yet the CSM program carries on ....... It is clearly deceptive to claim that you're a "certified master" of something after taking a two-day course. Although an argument currently rages within the Scrum community over whether the problem is the use of the word "Certified" or "Master," this serves merely to distract people from the real issue.
Scott discusses the kind of experience-backed courses that could be applicable to the Agile world, and draws some ideas from other certification programmes that he feels set the certification standard for the IT industry, and outlines the characteristics of what he believes a successful certification should be:
  • To be meaningful, a good program includes training, examination, and hands-on internship/apprenticeship.
  • It should provide a clear learning path while at the same time be flexible enough to meet the needs of the individual.
  • A multi-tiered certification program gives people a framework in which they can manage their career path.
  • Should be open and visible. It is critical that people from the outside should be able to look under the covers to verify that it's not being abused.
Given the adverse climate of discussion on the Scrum Development mailing list, and the seemingly ubiquitous proliferation of Scrum Masters, what elements do you think should be included in a future Agile Certification programme to ensure it has the community integrity it deserves?

Related news: read Pete Behrens' call for more serious consideration of certification, and other news on InfoQ about Certification.
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Community comments

  • Certification is a scam

    by Jonathan Allen,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Certification in processes like Agile are essentially a scam to bilk unsuspecting people out of their traning budget. There hasn't ever been a process-based certification hasn't been discreditied or outright corrupted.

    Consider CMM and CMMI. You can make some big money as an auditor, especially when defense contractors bribe you to get the rating that allows them to even bid on contracts.

    Then there is six-sigma, which is the same nonsense with a cool karate belt theme.

    ISO 9001 is by far my favorite. To get certified all you need to do is have a process. Even if your process is "Ignore all bugs until the customer is screaming, then drop everything and fix them.", counts so long as you write it down.

    What would an Agile certification be anyways? By its very definition any answer you give is right so long as you back it up with "We tried it and it works for us."

  • What about "Certified Scrum Apprentice" ?

    by Stephane Boisson,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Make more sense to me..

  • Re: Certification is a scam

    by Amr Elssamadisy,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Scams aside - there is a problem that needs a solution. The problem is: how do I get people who know how to practice 'X' correctly?

    Let's be fair- consultants will tell you they know this thing inside-out and backwards and will claim that THEY have done wonders with Agile (whatever that is exactly varies...)

    So - how do you suggest solving the problem? Or is there not a problem to start off with?

    By the way - I'm not in favor of certification as it always have been done. But we need a solution other than "Certification is stupid so we won't do it."

    Something like "Certification is stupid and therefore we should do X instead to solve the existing problem" is a better approach. Unfortunately, I have no idea what X is at this point in time.

  • Re: What about "Certified Scrum Apprentice" ?

    by Deborah (Hartmann) Preuss,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    I believe I've seen this title inside an organization somewhere... in an organization it makes sense, where there is a program an apprentice can follow - making books available and allowing them to shadow or help more senior practitioners.

    However, as a purely classroom experience of certification, the active sense of apprenticeship is not so clearly present: you sat thru the class... what are you doing now?

  • Re: Certification is a scam

    by Bruce Rennie,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Ok, the problem is: "How do I get people who know how to practice 'x' correctly"?

    1. Define "correctly".
    2. How does certification prevent customers from hiring people that don't know what they're doing? If certification was a guarantee, there wouldn't be malpractice lawsuits.

    I've done both the CSM and PMP. I mostly did it just for knowledge. In both cases I wish I had my money back. If there were to be some sort of agile certification tomorrow, I would not sign up for it. I would continue to practice as I always have. If, at some point, it became impossible to get a job without this certification, I would grudgingly comply, no doubt finding myself a few thousand dollars poorer and absolutely no wiser.

    Since neither you or I knows what we should do to solve the problem, I suggest we do the simplest thing possible: nothing.

  • Need reference to Source Report

    by Kripanidhi S.M.,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Can you please provide me the reference of where this report of Scott Ambler cited above, was published. I wish to read it in full.

  • Re: Need reference to Source Report

    by Deborah (Hartmann) Preuss,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Thanks for the heads up. Done :-)

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