I’ve been following a thread on the Yahoo Scrum Development group recently, in it a discussion has been taking place as to whether or not the name of Certified Scrum Master course is in fact a little misleading when in actual fact, the course that you attend neither ensures that you are a master nor does it test you in any way to be able to certify that you meet a given set of standards. The inclusion of the word master I presume is due to the fact that Scrum defines a role within the team of Scrum Master, the arguments against the word certification do perhaps have some foundation though.
Inevitably, as the mailing list thread was actually started by a post from an author with a subject of “Scrum is not Agile” (The premise of which was that a lot of companies are jumping on the Scrum bandwagon and then calling themselves Agile, when in fact Scrum is just a step down the line to Agility, something with which I agree.) other opinions about how effective Scrum is come to the fore, in one of these, an author states that he thinks that it’s not until you have implemented Scrum, in part or wholly on at least 3 projects that you can see where the practices it defines stand or fall and certainly not until you can start to criticise it as a process. In a reply to this author, I think Kelly Waters makes a good point that principles should come before practices (The reply links through to a blog post which is well worth a read.).
In a conversation that I was having with somebody the other day he said that if the movies were anything to be believed you could get a black belt in any given martial art by meditating in a monastery for a couple of years. By the same token I don’t think my attendance, or anybody else’s for that matter, of a Certified Scrum Master course certified me nor made me a master, it aided me in bringing clarity to some of the reading around the topic that I had been doing and also allowed me to ask Mike Cohn, a well respected member of the Agile community, some questions that my reading hadn’t covered.
We’ve recently sent some people on a CSM course which has aroused others’ interest in the subject. When I saw an email from somebody requesting attendance of one of these courses I was a little sceptical as to the reasons behind the request and if I’m honest, a little annoyed. For me it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the main goal which is to deliver software more effectively. I think that taking an Agile approach will aid us in achieving that, I also think that there are elements of Scrum that can form part of the solution but it’s more important for me that people realise that it’s necessary to understand the principles behind what is being proposed before jumping on the next band wagon, be it Scrum, XP, TDD, FDD etc.