The Scrum methodology of agile software development marks a dramatic departure from waterfall management. In fact, Scrum and other agile processes were inspired by its shortcomings. The Scrum methodology emphasizes communication and collaboration, functioning software, and the flexibility to adapt to emerging business realities — all attributes that suffer in the rigidly ordered waterfall paradigm.
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There are frequent grumblings in the Scrum community about the generally lax nature of certification. Given that the number of CSTs has practically doubled in the last year, it might appear that the Scrum Alliance is certifying more trainers than the market for Scrum training can support. Then again, it also coincides with Scrum’s spike in popularity over the past two years. But even more concern has been raised over a new exam that the Scrum Alliance is beta-testing for ScrumMaster certification. Certainly, exams are used in countless industries to assess an individual’s candidacy for a particular certification. So why does this pose a problem for certifying ScrumMasters?
As CST Mishkin Berteig points out, a two-day Certified ScrumMaster course can provide attendees with a basic foundation of Scrum knowledge, but it can’t adequately prepare them for limitless scenarios they face as actual ScrumMasters. In Berteig’s estimation, this new beta test “simply cannot measure any level of competency. They simply measure people’s ability to pass exams.” His suggestion to address this issue is to have individuals take the test prior to attending a CSM course. Not only would this ensure that participants possessed a bedrock of Scrum fundamentals prior to the course, but it would also allow CSTs to go deeper during the two-day course. It’s not a bad idea; it would definitely make the CSM course—and attendant certification—more meaningful.
Still, I think what the Scrum Alliance is doing is very necessary. Without any kind of regulatory or certifying organization, Scrum could be damaged further by self-proclaimed experts dispensing uninformed advice. I see this all the time as I read Scrum and agile blogs. (It’s pretty terrifying to read a blogger authoritatively dishing out advice that would make any CST pull his or her hair out.) The current certification process may be in need of some tweaking—hence the development of the CSM exam—but I firmly believe the community would be much worse off without it.
The debate continues over at InfoQ.
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