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InfoQ Homepage News Interview with Ken Schwaber, Part 3

Interview with Ken Schwaber, Part 3

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Part 1 of this interview is found here.

Part 2 of this interview is found here.

Ken is the founder of Scrum.Org, a credentialing organization that offers Scrum classes, Scrum certifications and assessments in Scrum skills.

Ken, tell us about the Professional Scrum Developer credential.

Martin Fowler said that many implementations of Scrum were “flaccid” last year. By this he meant that the developers on the Scrum teams were unable to build a solid increment at the end of every Sprint. The iteration would either be poor quality or it wouldn’t be truly complete. Upon talking with Martin, he and I concurred that what we had observed were developers that were not familiar with time-boxed work using modern engineering practices (like acceptance test driven development and refactoring) or how to develop them in modern engineering development environments, such as with source control, continuous build, and frequent automated integration and integration testing.

Scrum reduces an entire development cycle down to one Sprint, and leaves the process for turning a requirements into something potentially shippable up to the developers on the Scrum Team. That is a seismic shift for many developers, because it exposes all of the inefficiencies and waste that pervaded the waterfall cycle.

Extreme Programming made an important step toward creating a process that addressed that problem. However, XP and XP training is not mainstream. So I went to the product companies, those that tool the engineering development environment. We partnered to show their customers how to build a solid increment every Sprint. The program is called the Professional Scrum Developer program, with a suffix indicating the tool and technology stack (.NET, Java).

I created an assessment for the Professional Scrum Developer program for the same reason that I did for the Scrum Master skill set. I wanted people to be able to assess their knowledge of how to be a developer in a Scrum Team and environment. The assessment derives from the course material which derives from industry best practices, tools specific usage, and Scrum. I intended this assessment to be a self-evaluation activity. We also certify anyone who demonstates an adequate knowledge a Professional Scrum Master certification. Much to my surprise, a number of organizations are working with us to use the assessment as a way of screening those qualified to be part of the Team (of developers) in a Scrum project. This is particularly useful in relationship to qualifying and engaging contractors.

What is the state of the Java developer certification?

Five of our partners have PSD.Java programs. Each addresses a specific variant of tooling for Java development, such as RTC. All public courses are identified at, where Zuehlke has posted a Java course for December. All of the partners are currently pretty well booked conducting in-house Java courses for their customers. If you want me to see if they can help anyone specifically, I can put you in touch with the appropriate partner.

What is your opinion of the ICAgile certification organization? Does the 'merit badge' model make sense in terms of a general Agile certification?

I respect Alistair Cockburn’s work immensely, and I’m sure that this will be equally impressive. I’m focused on specific shortfalls that Scrum has identified right now, rather than the broader picture.

It appears that Scrum is breaking out into non-IT domains, like service business development and other domains where complexity reigns. What is your take on that?

Wonderful. Jeff Sutherland has used it with religious organizations already. One person in a class used Scrum with his daughter, Emily. Emily was 18 months old and did not want to eat her canned vegetables. Her father had so many spoonfuls that he was going to give her every night, regardless. She would clench her jaw and try to hit the spoon, delaying the whole thing and creating a mess. So, the father goes home. He asks Emily how many spoonfuls she wants for dinner. Emily ponders this and indicates one. He gets a spoon and gives it to her. She eats it. He turns to other things. Emily pipes up and says, “I’d like another one spoon.” That’s Scrum. Scrum is an attitude toward what is possible and owning doing your best to make that possible. I’m focused on software development, but the attitude shift to collaborative work rather than command and control is pervasive, and overdue.

Some say the proliferation of a wide range of credentials for Scrum is creating fear, uncertainty and doubt about Scrum in the mind of employers, job seekers and those seeking credentials. How does add value for these constituencies?

By only offering valuable credentials based on adequate, visible performance on assessment tests. The assessment tests are vetted, continually improved, and based on bodies of known knowledge. If someone claims to have this credential, you know what it means.

This segment  concludes the interview with Ken Schwaber.

Part 1 of this interview is found here.

Part 2 of this interview is found here.


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