Denounce Your CSM?

Denounce: “To publicly declare to be wrong or evil.”

An author (Scott Ambler) on the Dr. Dobbs has recently written a very compelling article on the whole Agile-certification issue.

Very much like Tobias Mayer, who late last year denounced the Scrum Alliance and all of the certifications, Scott calls all CSM’s to denounce their CSM certification.

Scott states:

  1. My hope is that all Certified ScrumMasters (CSMs) will denounce the CSM designation if they haven’t done so already. You attended a workshop; it’s nothing to brag about. Also, if you work for an organization that still wants their agile staff to have the CSM designation then you should help ensure that whoever is inflicting that constraint fully understands what it takes to “earn” the CSM.
  2. My belief is that the Certified Scrum Trainers (CSTs), and the Scrum Alliance in general, can do a lot better. In reality, you’re the ones who need to denounce the CSM scheme and to declare it over.
  3. I’m impressed with the recently formed International Consortium for Agile (ICAgile) and their strategy surrounding agile certification. They appear to be on the right track and my hope is that they find a way to stay on it. Anyone offering agile training services should consider looking into this.
  4. Finally, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — The Scrum community, and to a lesser extent the agile community in general, has embarrassed itself by tolerating the CSM scheme. Enough is enough. We can do better, and until we do so, our integrity debt continues to grow.

Are you a Certified Scrum Master (CSM)? What do you think about DENOUNCING your certification?

[HT: Dr. Dobbs]

161 Replies to “Denounce Your CSM?”

  1. I’ve looked at the CSM courses but have always come away with the thought that it’s just another way to blow money. Personally I don’t like titles, certifications or anything else that puts a stamp on a person and claims them superior due to an acronym behind their name or a certain school they went too. I prefer to see the person in action and observe the quality of their leadership and skills before I’ll get behind them and follow.

    If you have the skills you don’t need the certification. If you are in an industry that requires a title maybe it’s time to look at other industries or companies that put forth more of a servant leader model rather than a top down title one.

    my two cents… 🙂

    1. Great points here Robb. I totally agree that titles don’t mean squat… unfortunately the industries (most) have some sort of titles. To your point: “If industries require a title it’s time to look at another industry…” —- What industry doesn’t have titles? Maybe non-profits…

      1. Yeah, maybe it’s not an industry thing, but a corporate culture one. I think Non-profits are a good place to see humility and servant leadership play out a no title culture.

        Personally I’m used to the software start-up culture where titles are not what defines you or success. It’s more of a “git’r done” mentality and the strengths of certain people play out as time moves on. Rethinking my statement, There are titles, but when it comes down to value within the company its more based on respect, trust, and collaboration with your colleagues than a C, V, or D behind your name.

        1. Exactly. We should create our own badges: “Master of ___” – What does it mean? Ha! Start-ups are great. It truly is a do-what-it-takes environment. Everybody is a player, nobody is king or “master” of anything

    2. Seems to me that it’s just a blatant war between 2 certifications programs.

      The positive of Agile Alliance is that it has created a huge momentum to make Agile spread. The negative is that like all momentums it risk to turn into marketing.

      The other certification program is the opposite, they want to reserve scrum to elites and this will turn into some kind of governance in corporate organization.

      I think certification is usefull but that scrummasters just have to be naturally designated in an organization. In fact I think any volunteer should be able to be a scrummaster. It is by practice and repetition that one really becomes good at anything including Agile.

  2. I’m not a CSM (I’m not certified as anything, other than my school degrees!) but I wonder what this denouncing means for regular folks out there who were able to get a job because they got their CSM and were hired by some newbie agile shop who advertised for a CSM.

    Haven’t Tobias and others given unemployed folks discounts or free CSM courses to help them become more employable? I think a lot of people took the course with the best of intentions – wanting to learn something new and make a career move, maybe even in desperation because it can be hard to get any job in some places.

    I’m anti-certification, but it seems a little cruel to rip it away from people who thought they were doing a good thing to take the course and call themselves a CSM.

    1. I agree. The issue may not be as much about denouncing your CSM as using your CSM training course as a beginning start to a new journey in Scrum!

      Dr. Dobbs words are harsh. I’m a CSM, and I don’t think I’ll be denouncing anything!

    2. Hi Lisa,

      My motivation for offering free/low cost CSM was to explore the teaching of Scrum to non-software folk, and essentially to spread the good news to more people: you don’t have to suffer. That the software people got a leg up in the job market was more of a side-effect. I don’t offer CSM any longer, and I don’t (never really did) buy in to the model. I’d like to see the mindshift move away from certification, which is nothing more than compliance to the existing status quo.

      I made lots of money from CSM, which is why I stayed as long as I did, but in the end my integrity got the better of me.

  3. Peter, what do you hope to accomplish by denouncing CSM?

    You promote the ICAgile, yet Alistair is also a CST giving CSM classes. Are you asking him to cease and desist? Are you questioning his integrity?

  4. Here is the dilemma I see in the job market:

    1. The economy is still bad
    2. Companies are putting “CSM REQUIRED” on their job descriptions
    3. People are at various stages of their careers with agile software development

    For those just starting out, the combination of 1 & 2 puts them in a situation where they sign up for CSM & renew. It is a numbers game, because even though $1500 (or whatever going rate) is expensive, it opens up opportunities that would otherwise be closed.

    “Hmm I’ll pay $1500 + $50 a year to have a shot at a job that makes ______ amount of money more than I do now”

    Unfortunately that has little to do with the actual intent of the cert, your knowledge of scrum, etc.

    The tide may be turning as more denounce CSM, but it is slow. and rarely do I see “CSM or equivalent” listed for a ScrumMaster job.

    I still have hope that the SA can make this feel less like a pyramid scheme, or a broken Scrum MMORPG and more like a valuable set of courses…

    1. … and for the record, I actually enjoyed CSM when I took the course. I think that had less to do with becoming “certified” and much more to do with the fact that the CST rocked.

      Call it something else and remove the stigma perhaps?

  5. @Lisa

    It’s not the csm that will get you a job.
    If it doesn it’s not the job you want.

    Lot’s of de-certifying will give a powerfull message to the SA.

    Next to that, a lot of decertification does a de-service to the recognition of the agile community.
    I’m not sure how I feel about that.
    It is powerfull that people from within say, hey it was good, now it’s become hollow, there is better somewhere else.
    That’s what Royce tried to do and failed at it. (Royce is the author of the original document where waterfall is based upon, who spend most of his life explaining to people what they misunderstood about his methodology.

    1. @Yves, you and I know that, but someone who was looking to get into a better career situation, had heard that agile teams are better, and wanted to break in may have seen the CSM as a stepping-stone. They won’t necessarily have had opinions about certification good or bad. They just wanted a better job. Should they renounce? If they have learned enough about agile and have come to realize the important thing is to continually learn and improve, and that certifications (especially one for which the only qualification is a couple days of training class) don’t add value, then they could denounce. I am just guessing a lot of CSMs out there are feeling good about being a CSM, and wondering if this talk of denouncing means that they themselves don’t add value to their teams.

    1. I think the problem is that your resume gets filtered to the bit bucket if you do not have CSM.

      For some of us, it is a non-issue, but for others this is a very real problem.

      Interesting point between has vs had though… not so much about losing skills but whether or not HR would look for your profile to see if it is active 🙂

      1. David, you nailed this. Without those 3 letters, a resume may not come up in the HR search. Though I would hire for culture fit and experience over a degree or certification, Human Resources is going for the path of least resistance when it comes to sourcing talent.

          1. It certainly is! It’s a game. I get that. Leverage what you have to get your butt in the door and into that interview seat. After that, certifications (solely) should not get you the job.

            Certifications are merely tools.

      2. @David:
        Wen someone denounces from today, they can still put on their resume CSM from x till 2011/01/25.

        About 15 years ago, I have developed for 6 months in powerbuilder. Since at least 8 years that is no longer on my CV. I still get calls for working in Powerbuilder every 6 months.

        Denouncing is not equal to removing it from your cv.Actually leaving it on, is closer to the truth then removing it.

  6. p.s. I have worked on a really awesome waterfall team. I don’t know if we were following Royce’s real definition, but we did continuous integration, automated testing at all levels including unit testing, involvement of the whole team throughout the project cycle, and had no critical bugs get to production. I wish we could get away from ALL the labels and ALL the certification and focus on doing a better job of delivering high quality software.

    1. If you want to avoid slogans and labels… how about talking about values and principles instead?

      Let’s take for example the idea that the highest priority of an organisation is customer satisfaction through early and continuous delivery of valuable software. If you agree to this principle for a second, you can’t follow a waterfall process which states a complete/detailed planning before execution, verification and release takes place. Another example is the idea that the best architectures and requirements emerge from self-organizing teams. If you agree to this principle, you can’t build your organisation on command-and-control hierarchies or overly stringent processes that leave no room for adaptability. There seams to be a collision of values in our business and I think that the problem is not that we have labels for doing the same thing differently, but that those ways are mutably exclusive to each other.

      Coming back to the Scrum certification and why the agile community is perhaps so angry about it. There are various certifications that the “traditional project management camp” has to offer (PMP, etc), they mean something because you can expect a minimum of knowledge or interest coming with it. However, there is only one certification in the agile world that I am aware of, Certified Scrum Master (CSM and its enhancement). Not only is it awarded without any test, but it also promotes values that are contradicting to the underlying agile values and too many people got it too easy. As a result the Certified Scrum Master alone became pretty meaningless. If you meet a CSM right now, in my opinion, you don’t know if there comes any knowledge or interest attached to it.

      Hope this helps and many greetings from an agilist in Sweden. 🙂

      1. If you are an Agile Coach that works with enterprise clients, you find (unfortunately) a lot of CSM’s that don’t know what they are doing, nor have they led any real Scrum practices in their current role. It’s a tough position to be in, and I don’t envy it at all. As many CSM’s are contractors, they don’t want to piss of their new employers so they don’t make any of the “hard calls” to enforce the Scrum process or make things better. This may be a separate article entirely, but it is a tough world for CSM’s right now.

          1. Look at certifications that you have to really “earn.” PMP – you have to earn it. Graduate degree – you have to earn it. Six Sigma – you have to earn it. These are pieces of paper you can be proud of!

        1. Why do you have to “enforce the process”? Isn’t supposed to be “people over process”?

          While we are on the subject, in the Scrum Guide, the only “individual” mentioned is the Scrum Master and Product Owner.

          Everyone else is just part of “the team”.

          The whole guide talks about the process.

          Individuals and interactions?? Individuals aren’t even a part of the process…except the SM and the PO.

          Hire competent developers, pay them what they are worth, and the methodology will take care of itself, because it won’t be needed.

          This whole “enforcement of the process”, “fine people if they are late” stuff just merely builds up the process as something that is important.

          The process does not deliver any value. The individuals deliver the value. So what do corporations do? Hire cheap developers, treat them poorly, and then hire a Scrum Master to enforce the process.


  7. Um this isn’t “Dr Dobbs” who said this. I hate to be the one to tell you that there is no “Dr Dobbs” at The person who suggested denouncing was Scott Ambler who is an “editor”, which generally means “occasional columnist” for the “magazine”. Scott does have an horse in this race, as he is a proponent of a relatively heavy “Agile” process. Relatively in the same way that a horse is relatively heavy compared to a hummingbird.

    Also, it strikes me as somewhat disingenuous to publish an article called “Denounce your CSM” and then say you’re “just reporting the news”. If you were, a better headline might be “Scott Ambler suggests Denouncing your CSM”.

    That said, the CSM means you survived a two day class. It is not a very high bar. But denounce? Might as well denounce kindergarten. You get a diploma for that now, too.

    1. Thanks for the clarification. There was a question mark in the title somewhere…
      We’ll see if Scott logs on an gives us some feedback. Thanks for the info!

          1. In Belgium that is not true.
            They keep children in kindergarten when they think they are not ready to read and write.
            It turns out it better to keep children a year longer in kindergarten then have them redo their first year.

      1. Hmmm. I did my Kindergarten in Tripoli, Libya, and as someone else’s book title states “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum, I concur.

  8. Denouncing what?
    Scrum Master is a role in the framework, the framework is simple so after 2 days of training and some reading you may have a certificate that means you are trained (and motivated) to work as a Scrum Master in a team. That’s all.
    Do you need months of training and lot of certificates to start acting as a Scrum Master? It sounds to me more like “waterfalling” Agile.
    Discussing about the word Master also makes no sense.
    Sometimes people write articles in that way just to be more popular.

    1. Did you take the time to actually read the article? It included a discussion about the words certification and certificate, and why the word certification in this case is misleading.

      The word master also has important connotations, discussed in the article and by others commenting on this blog.

      1. Hi Scott, yes, I took the time for reading it, I’m not going to read it again, it was for me just a viral way to start a discussion (as you also said – provocative)
        That discussion about the word master, the survey scope, etc. was just a way to add color to that thread but at least for me it was more philosophical than practical – as I said CSM designation means (to me) you may start acting as a Scrum Master on a team (with some motivation & knowledge of something that is not way complex)

        Anyway the topic was interesting but personally I don’t like so much that approach of starting a thread – sounds to me like somebody just wanting some clicks in their blog, sorry if you got offended with my comments

  9. I wonder if CSP (Certified Scrum Practioner) is a sweet spot. It says you did Scrum for a year, which I find useful whether you learned from your success, or better yet, from your hiccups.

    I seek the certification not for the tag, but to know I have a baseline level of knowledge. Once I have it, I assume I know nothing, and seek again the beginner’s mind.

    1. For comparison instead of 16 hours for a two day class, my certification in virtual worlds took 108 course hours over 9 months (plus homework homework), and $2,500. My MBTI cert took 36 hours over a week.

      I actualy liked the ease of starting in Scrum. ‘ScrumMaster’ is a cool title for the role. The problem is accidental use of ‘Master’ for the beginner level. Some folks think CSM outranks CSP! ha!

    2. Bill, definitely agree that CSP is a potential replacement for CSM. In fact, at the very beginning of the CSM scheme several of us suggested that Ken start with something similar to CSP instead of what he did.

      We could have done much better.

  10. Sigh.

    A few points:
    1. The mythical “Dr. Dobb” didn’t say this, I did. So please blame me, not the publisher.
    2. If you read the original article, or even look at the original survey results which the article is based on, you’ll see that there is a bit more to it than the summary posted here. Be that as it may.
    3. The survey found that some organizations still require people to have the CSM designation on their resumes, although not as many as you might think. But still, it happens and that’s an indication that there is some hirability value in the designation.
    4. It was more common for CSMs to think it improved their hirability than organizations to actually ask for it. 😉
    5. Many people with the CSM took it to gain agile knowledge. Many also don’t advertise the fact that they’ve “earned” the designation and many questioned its value (as we’re seeing in other responses to this blog).
    6. I put out a call to denounce the CSM to be provocative in a hope to generate a discussion on the topic, which we’re apparently seeing. I believe that the Agile Community can do a heck of a lot better than the CSM. Hopefully ICAgile, which I’m not involved with in any way, may be part of that solution. Time will tell.

    1. Hi Scott, I found myself nodding in agreement with you until I reached the line “I’m impressed with the recently formed International Consortium for Agile (ICAgile)”. Then I started to wonder if this is just the next round of Scott’s long-running SA bashing campaign.

      Certification is either valuable or it isn’t. I am strongly in the isn’t camp, and no amount of slick marketing or politicking is going to convince me otherwise. ICAgile certification is just as much bullshit as SA certification or certification. These initiatives are all scams to make money out of suckers. And I say enough is enough.

      Denounce CSM indeed. And denounce ICAgile and all the other nonsense that gets in the way of our integrity. Make Love not Certificates 🙂

      1. As I indicate in the article I’m not a big fan of certification either, but if someone is going to be “certified” in something then at least they should have done something substantial to earn it.

        As for my long-running “SA bashing campaign”:
        1. Seems to be the pot calling the kettle black. 😉
        2. I have an expectation that an organization meets the philosophies that it espouses. SA is nowhere near that, as you yourself have pointed out.
        3. If you go back and actually read my writings on the topic, you would actually see that I’ve been targeting the CSM scheme, not the SA. I’ve implored the SA to improve and start acting with greater integrity.
        4. I think that the SA can and should do better.

        – Scott

        1. Well…
          1. I had a short-running SA bashing campaign. If I bash at all these days it is as an equal opportunities basher. All Agile certification schemes suck.
          2. Agreed. And it is sad that those on the inside refuse to see it. Without willingness to change there will be no change.

          I’ll comment on articles like this, but I have no interest in directly challenging the SA any longer, or any other certification body. It isn’t that the effort is unmerited, but only that I have limited resources, in terms of both time and emotional energy.

          Sometimes I feel the efforts I made to change the SA from the inside actually resulted in making it worse. The was a severe reaction to my challenge, which took the organization (in my opinion) backwards towards a desire for even more control, and an even greater degree of compliance with the existing status quo. It is tragic, and I take some responsibility (blame) for that direction.

          Sadly, challenges such as this one only serve to entrench the SA leaders in their current way of being. I don’t know how you (or I, or anyone) can challenge in more effective ways, but as you have no doubt witnessed all your efforts up to now have been to no avail. Where profit is involved, where fear rules integrity the only change likely to occur is catastrophic change. Rome will fall. Eventually.

          And in the meantime, perhaps rather than attacking bad practice we instead promote good practice, we live and lead by example. There is much good to be done.

          1. @Tobias:
            SA Backwards: people are like rubber bands, the more you pull, the more they fire back.

            > And it is sad that those on the inside refuse to see >it. Without willingness to change there will be no >change.

            It’s not refusing to see. It’s not seeing.
            And the people have a benefit in not seeing.

            And it is tempting to join them.
            Right now selling agile course is 500% easier if it has CSM attached to it. If I join them I might be able to tell the same stuff I do now, but with more people listening. When I don’t join, someone else will sells csm’s in my country.

          2. What should be discussed here (thanks to Scott stirring the pot and suggesting that people question the status quo) is why HR is looking for “CSM” in the first place.

            They do it because they are not software methodologists, let alone software developers. Yet the investors that ask them to recruit software development leadership are wishing to vest a fiduciary duty upon someone who is qualified to realize the perceived standard of care for their investment. The case might be made that the representation implied from the naming of the certification should meet such a standard. Hence a possible problem if it comes out that what the investor is expecting is not what is being represented.

            As far as ICAgile – my understanding is that Alistair is attempting to lend credibility to establishing such a fiduciary standard in conjunction with a reputable University. Perhaps one could hope that this leads to recognition of “agile” as being necessary to achieve the expected standard of care for investors and their investments.

  11. I have heard statements such as these many times:

    “It is a numbers game, because even though $1500 (or whatever going rate) is expensive, it opens up opportunities that would otherwise be closed.”

    “Companies are putting ‘CSM REQUIRED. on their job descriptions.”

    “… not so much about losing skills but whether or not HR would look for your profile to see if it is active.”

    Put this way, CSM certification is a pay-to-play scheme that prays on the ignorance of the industry. Buying credentials labeled “Certified” and “Master” is flat out false advertising, and agile practitioners know it.

    With apologies, Mr. Jeffries: CSM training means surviving a two day class *to you.* Not everyone knows that the CSM title is intentionally misleading (I’m getting to that.) Hiring managers and teams are mislead to believe they are paying for expertise of a certified master of Scrum — what else does “certified master” mean in our society?

    Imagine if CSM-style credentials were standard in other industries. For example, you take your Camry to a certified Toyota master technician ( to fix an oil leak. Surprise! Your “master” technician knows little about cars, having bought his title a week earlier. Doesn’t everyone know that the Toyota certification doen’t mean anything? Don’t they teach that in driver’s ed?

    I’ll take it a step further: “Certified ScrumMaster” training is intentionally misleading for gain.

    – Given “master” is defined as “a person eminently skilled in something, as an occupation, art, or science.” (
    – Given “certified” reenforces this, defined as “guaranteed; reliably endorsed.” (

    Objectively, is Scrum a complex project management framework involving many aspects of human psychology, business, technology, and more? YES.

    Is it illogical that the average person can become a “certified master” of such a complex domain in two days, given the definitions above? YES.

    Is it logical that CSM trainers are aware that becoming a certified master of a complex domain in such as short timeframe is unlikely? YES.

    Is it logical that those whom take the training are also aware of this? YES.

    Is there something to be gained by both trainers and trainees by giving/accepting the knowingly false title of “certified master”? YES.

    Therefore, CSM training is intentionally misleading for purpose of gain.

    1. Yes, it’s intentionally misleading, and the misleading is being done by people who claim to espouse “courage”, “accoutability”, “transparency”, etc.

      Pretty ironic isn’t it?

      Also the whole SA meltdown and thing shows that the people were not able to work together as a team.

      It’s amazing that they have any credibility at all at this point


  12. @peter: Another good post. I’ve been contemplating, but really not sure if I would be able to execute it – unless I see organizations hiring talent that matters, without the letters behind the name.

    CSM does have a hidden pre-requisite of having the basic understanding of scrum. How you have it (theory/practice) is irrelevant. But, I would disagree that one is “trained” in the 2 day workshop. You are familiarized with the basics and framework.
    As you mentioned, its a very good “motivator” but surely doesn’t make you “master”. May be that’s what the M in CSM should be replaced with: Motivator.

    @Lisa Crispin
    Even after Tobias denounced his SA certifications, he is helping people acquire those credentials for the sake of market value/job opportunities.
    The ONLY difference being – as a trainer, thought leader and practitioner he is providing more “value” through his passion for agility. When I did my CSM – I didn’t get that “value”.

    In other words, if I am given a chance again I would choose my a coach/trainer responsibly.

    1. @Sameer, OK probably “trained” was not the most suited word, “introduced” maybe?. Anyway the point was whatever the title/certificate you have you may start in a better shape acting as a Scrum Master in a team. No months & months of training required to have just that starting title/certificate
      “One must learn by doing the thing, for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try” (Aristotle)

  13. @YvesHanoulle
    This is true in the USA too. In fact at any stage during elementary school a pupil can choose to redo a grade. This is not a “failure”, but rather a personal/parental choice to focus on self-improvement.

    And to bring this back to CSM I am reminded of a model that Danube used to operate (maybe still do within their new parent company). If a CSM participant was in any way unhappy with the CSM course s/he was invited to retake the whole course, free of charge, with a different Danube trainer.

    The participant hadn’t failed the course, but the company had failed the participant, so sought to make that right. It was an admirable practice.

    1. Brings up another discussion I had on twitter: why is failure a bad thing?
      I see failure as something positive.
      In my opinion it is a failure. And that is OK.

      On all my training I offer the possibility to get their money back.

      It’s another reason why I give free life time support on anything I do. (Even this message)

      (My life and not the life of the readers 😉 )

  14. How are you supposed to denounce your CSM certification anyway ? By sending the Scrum Alliance an official injunction to remove your name from the CSM list ? Sounds a bit grandiloquent, and will they only care ? After all, they already got your (company’s) money a while ago. And considering the current agile hype, the system could pretty much go on relying on just the new trainees.

    Not that my feeling about CSM is altogether bad, especially I think the course aspect is worth it. I got great intellectual and professional benefit from my CSM course and I’m grateful to the trainer for that, although there’s no CSM logo on my CV and I try to moderate anyone around me too infatuated with the concept of certified.

    Maybe the issue here is precisely with the word “certified” and we should request from the Scrum Alliance that they change the name to something reflecting what CSM really is – merely an introduction to Scrum ? Maybe that would refrain companies from blindingly requiring CSM in their job offers, while allowing for a newer, fairer way of assessing people’s skills to take place.

  15. Peter, I read this post and countless other dealt with the same issue for its entertainment value.

    For the sake of argument, lets say that Ken had originally called it Certified Scrum (whatever) but not Master? Our world of Agile would have been at a better place?

    Any of your here think that there is that Program Manager or some manager out there who will hire a newly minted CSM and hand them a critical project just because they had those three letters with their name? If there is one, may be that is what they deserve. Some one here mentioned PMP certification is earned. Do you think you can get a job just because you can prove that you have a PMP?

    I am not saying SA got it all right. I am saying this CSM bashing is just a waste of time.

    1. Hiring managers need to do their diligence. If they get a freshly minted csm, then that’s what they get! (if the csm doesn’t have any previous experience in scrum/agile)

    2. From some of the discussions that we’ve seen here and in other forums it does appear that some organizations are putting newly-minted CSMs into positions of authority that they don’t seem to be well-prepared for. Certainly this also happens with non-CSMs too.

      The survey also clearly found that hiring managers in some organizations aren’t doing their due diligence as Peter indicates. Some CSTs even admitted to this, as did many CSMs.

      My main point is that as a community we could do better. There are some clear and obvious integrity problems with the CSM scheme which could be addressed.

  16. I agree with most of Scott Ambler’s points.

    But to me the larger issue is Scrum itself.

    Scrum is not an agile methodology in my book. And it chokes out the ability for people to create their own environment, because the organizations think they can just use the 20 pages of “Large Print” Scrum Guide and buy a few Scrum Masters.

    Speaking of the term “Master”, I finally think I have figured out where the term came from.

    When I read the “Scrum Guide” the literary style (such as it has one) is really paragraphs saying the Scrum master does this, the product owner does that etc..

    It reads very much like “Dungeon Master’s Guide” from the AD&D game.

    So now we have the Scrum Master….instead of a Dungeon Master.

    Except the scrum guide is 20 pages long and the DMG was 200 pages long.

    Scrum is so hollow and incomplete, at least the “by the book” version that the entire community is being dealt a disservice by giving Scrum credibility at all.

    Getting a certification in it is to me, of course, absurd.


      1. I could ask Ken, but he doesn’t publish my postings. I doubt he’d admit it anyway. You could ask him if you want.

        Pretty amazing that a game had a 200 page manual but the “Scrum Guide” which is used in projects that cost, say a million dollars/year, has a 20 page guide that was written by 2 people, one of whom has a PhD.

        That’s an astounding 10 pages/person of large print type.

        It just is astonishing that the methodology has any credibility at all.

        So of course that is why the certifications are there.

        If someone likes Scrum, they are, (imho) by default a sucker.

        So if they are sucker, and that much is already known, then extracting cash out of their wallet should be straightforward.

        Pretty soon they’ll be selling polyhedral dice for the estimation sessions.


          1. I think it is simplistic and the most minimal management that could possibly be done.

            I also think it could be invented (say on an island) in about 10 minutes.

            It also could be practiced in the middle ages, given it’s need for in person ad hoc communication and the fear of “tools” like email and software.

            I also feel that it is 20 years old, and still so few success stories.

            That’s how I feel about it in a nutshell. You can read my blog for more details.

            And yourself?

          2. What would be better depends on the situation.

            I appreciate your interest but I don’t feel this is a good thing to pollute this thread with little interactive questions.

            If you want send me an email or whatever but I don’t think this thread is the Jordan Q/A session


          3. Well said. We’ll keep the Jordan Q/A to email!
            Love your commentary though. Keep the juices moving! We’re all here to improve!!

        1. Jordan, I would argue that since Scrum is supposed to be lightweight, it doesn’t need a 200+ manual. Right?

          Wouldn’t it be like the 300+ page books out there that sell for $130 a pop that load you up with processes and all that junk too?

          What’s the happy medium?

          1. I think “it’s supposed” to be “lightweight” and it’s “supposed” to “cure cancer” and all that stuff.

            It is not lightweight. The only thing lightweight about it is the heft of the documents they produce.

            It is a heavy weight, high maintenance process that needs to constantly be maintained with frequent all hands meetings to make up for the way they share information (verbally).

            So, yes, even the fact that it is “lightweight” is a charade.

            Additionally, all this adhoc, self organizing stuff, is a complete gamble. IF the team self organizes properly (which is by no means assured) THEN it MIGHT work.

            So there should be a LOT of information in the guide to aide and facilitate that to happen.

            But that is left as an exercise for the user.

            They just tell you to use post its and daily meetings and the hard stuff that is implied by their suggesions, are not covered. I go into these aspects on my blog


          2. Jordan,

            I replied to Peter because there was no “reply” link on your comment inviting me to read your blog. This reply is meant to be addressed to you.

            I read parts of your blog, as you suggested.

            Interesting that you’re a musician. Me too. We also have a cat.


          3. Dave
            Right same issue. Well feel free to make comments on the postings if you desire.

            Well as a musician then of course you can appreciate how absurd the scrum stuff.

            First of all, they are asking people to improvise.

            Second of all, they are TELLING people how to improvise, at least in the scripted (canned) methodologies like Scrum and XP.

            Before you can improvise you’d need a lot of background, and that is what training is for.

            There is musical training to develop the ability to improvise, and there are plenty of materials on that.

            So…. here is something I posted on another blog that I think sums up the situation in a nutshell.

            The problem with Scrum and daily scrums is:

            1) Organizations that are doing fine do not need to change anything and therefore don’t (need) to adopt a new methodology (like scrum)

            2) Organizations that are failing want a quick fix. So they choose scrum

            3) Now they are doing a bunch of quick fixes, calling it progress, doing Cargo Cult Scrum, and making people miserable

            That’s what I see in the field. Failed organizations choose scrum because they are failing, and then they fail harder with scrum but pretend they are on a path to salvation.


          4. I’ve been a developer on 2 scrum projects and I have no desire to be a part of any other ones.

            The only way I would be involved in a scrum project at this point would be as a Coach to dig them out of scrum and into something better.


        2. One of the challenges with the Scrum community is that they’re not as open to criticism as you’d expect given their rhetoric on the subject.

          So, I’m not surprised that your voice is being actively silenced Jordan.

          Maybe we’ll see a see a “Scrum Spring” at some point where Scrum practitioners rise up against their so-called thought leaders. I’m not holding my breath on that, but we can always hope.

          Until then, I’ll do my best as a level 7 Paladin. 😉

  17. Jordan,
    Can you tell us more about the two Scrum projects you were part of?
    It sure sound like it did’t go very well.. but can you tell us more about what happened? What are the kind of problems the team faced etc?

    I am curious to learn


    1. I don’t discuss details about client projects.

      I especially do not say anything negative about former clients.

      Thus, I have nothing to say in that regard.


    1. Noble goals Scott, but sad to say, even if you were the Managing Director of the Scrum Alliance it is unlikely you’d be able to carry any of these ideas out. I worked side by side with Jim Cundiff when he was MD and trying to implement many of the same changes (and more). Between us we couldn’t get the board of directors to adopt any new practices or to see that anything they did was counter to an Agile mindset. It was a deeply frustrating experience.

      PS I would have commented on your blog, but have no interest in signing up for an IBM id. So on the topic of inviting open dialog, why the restriction?

  18. @Scott,

    I appreciate your point of view about the CSM and your efforts to realign the ScrumAlliance, as well as your great contributions to the agile community in the areas of agile modeling and the beautiful concept of the generalizing specialist.


    “I’m not surprised that your voice is being actively silenced Jordan.”

    …I’m calling bullshit on that one. 100% of the comments addressed to Jordan on this thread have encouraged him to continue to share his views and to elaborate further on his experiences. No one has asked him to be silent. Jordan himself suggested some of those issues might better be addressed on his own blog.

    1. @Scott I agree with Dave here with one exception Jordan says this is not the forum to discuss it, but I don’t see what forum he prefers (where Dave thinks Jordon suggests his blog, I don’t see that.)

      @Jordan: I understand you don’t want to critize clients projects, still I hope you can explain us why you think it is bad.
      You have no problem critisizing Scrum (which I applaud), but it would be nice to understand why so we can learn from it. And probably prevent using scrum in the situations you had.

      1. I already go into why scrum is bad on my blog.

        As far as the personal experience, if I want to share it I will do so on my blog.

        I don’t think it’s all that relevant; I think that the projects that I was part of would have had challenges regardless of the methodology because the people were so poor at what they do.

        But Scrum certainly did not save them.

        The fact that Scrum didn’t work (on these projects) doesn’t matter, any more than that Scrum works on some projects that I wasn’t a part of.

        Scrum has many deficiencies in general, is wildly incomplete, and I cover those aspects on my blog.

        Thanks for your interest

    2. Dave, sorry for not being clearer. I wasn’t referring to this forum.

      But, Jordan mentioned earlier that he wasn’t able to interact elsewhere. This completely aligns with my experiences a few years ago on the Scrum list where I was banned when I asked Ken to apologize for some very disturbing, and completely and verifiably false, allegations that he made.

      1. @Scott, OK, never mind, then. Sorry for the confusion.

        Now you mention it, I remember those days when Ken would boot people off the list and then reinstate them again. More of a personal thing than an indictment of Scrum, IMHO.

        1. Actually, I was one of those kicked off the scrumdevelopment list by Ken (and later reinstated). I also saw it as a personal thing, and nothing whatsoever to do with Scrum. In fact, the idea is absurd. We all go through tough times and wish some of those around us would just shut up. Perhaps a little empathy rather than resentment would be appropriate in such circumstances.

      2. For the record, I recently deleted two comments from Jordan on my blog. This was after four or five comments all saying the same thing (i.e. what a load of rubbish Scrum is). It became very tedious, and added little to the conversation, in fact derailed it.

        I welcome criticism of Scrum. The way of thinking espoused by Scrum, XP and other recent ways of working based on self-organization is a tough and challenging mind shift, and of course will call forth a reaction. Many commenter on my last post (Scrum is not Project Management) took umbrage with my position and offered alternative viewpoints. It was interesting and triggered dialog.

        I think where I see value in these criticisms is where alternatives are offered, and some degree of open-mindedness is apparent — creation rather than destruction. Sadly I find a lot of Jorden’s comments to be of the latter kind. And when asked (as you were here Jorden) to clarify these terrible Scrum experiences it appears there is no substance (however, if there is substance to these complaints, let the readers of this blog know where you may be writing about that).

        I can’t speak for Ken Schwaber, but perhaps when one is trying to introduce a new idea to an audience that wants to hear about it and learn, and there is a constant naysayer undermining every move, it is distressing, and the temptation to ask that person to leave must be great. A few years go I had an experience like that on a training course. I asked the person to leave for the benefit of the larger group. His cynicism and sarcasm was not adding to the learning experience.

        1. @Tobias,

          I can see there could occasionally be a need to block someone from a list if they are stubbornly rude or insulting, but it’s hard to imagine blocking anyone just because of the plain content of their posts.

          I like the idea of letting people express themselves freely. There’s always a back story. When someone appears to have nothing to say about a subject other than (apparently) mindless spew, there’s something behind it. That kind of raw emotion doesn’t materialize spontaneously out of thin air. It’s triggered by /something/. If we can find out what it is, we stand to learn something useful.

          IMHO there are multiple levels of criticism about any given subject. Knowledgeable, experienced people may offer a kind of feedback that helps advance the state of the art. Obviously that’s always welcome.

          People who have been “burned” and have negative feelings also have something to offer, although we might have to wade through some unpleasant preliminaries to discover what it is. We might at a minimum discover the sorts of things that newbies are confused about or that they tend to get wrong. We might discover inherent weaknesses in the new idea that we have to mitigate when we bring it to new clients. Something useful can be gleaned from it, if we try. If we lock the person out of the discussion, we lose that opportunity.

          Worst case, a person might establish a reputation as someone who is not very credible. That doesn’t really do any harm to a community or to a discussion list.

          1. @Dave. You make many good points. In fact, I allowed the majority of Jordan’s comments on my blog, and then encouraged him to express himself further on his own blog. Twice. He did this both times and I engaged in conversation with him there. Until I became exhausted and had nothing more to say.

            This Agile Scout blog is different to most as it is designed to generate open discussion, but when I comment on other blogs I try not to hijack them with my own agenda. It is a courtesy I expect from others too. We all have our own blogs to express our views, and there are many open public discussion groups.

        2. Tobias:

          My cynicism and saracasm is meant to take some of the sting out of what I have to say.

          You are just continuing to use rhetorical antipatterns that I cover here

          You are just smearing me and making broad generalizations with no support.

          Clearly you are arrogant. Based on the public record, sorry to say it, but you have anger management issues.

          You very publicly trashed your previous employer (the SA) and your coworkers.

          Who would want to hire someone that trashes their coworkers and boss? It speaks volumes.

          In addition many of your tirades are ridiculous on the face of it. Calling them parasites? Making huge generalizations while demonizing the opposition?

          FWIW “I’m not unwilling” to dicuss my experiences… I said that this isnt the forum to that. I don’t feel like hijacking this thread.

          You don’t like when your threads are hijacked, but you don’t mind hijacking other peoples’ threads including this one.

          The hypocricy doesn’t go unnoticed. Please find something else to do with your time, and learn how to deal with people in a more professional fashion.

          @Dave — I am hardly a “newbie”. Thanks


          1. @Jordan,

            You might (or might not) discover that cynicism and sarcasm increase the “sting” of whatever you have to say, rather than reducing it.

            “I am hardly a ‘newbie’.”

            Interesting that you were sensitive to that choice of words, though I mentioned no names. I was actually responding to Tobias’ remarks about deleting posts and removing people from lists. I’m not generally in favor of that sort of thing, preferring instead to let people say what they wish to say. If some people choose to say foolish things, then so be it. I’ve certainly done my share of that.

            Since you insist on discussing it, though…

            Clearly, you are not a “newbie” in general. You present yourself on your website as relatively senior in certain specific areas of IT practice, and I have no reason to doubt it. Kudos to you for that. Credit where it’s due, etc.

            Experience is relative. When I asked how many Scrum projects you had /completed/, you replied that you had “been a developer on 2 scrum projects” and that you “have no desire to be a part of any other ones.” Apparently your participation on those projects did not help them succeed. Based on your comments to date, it seems you have no real idea why not. It’s unclear from your answer whether you even bothered to stay on board all the way through those two projects. I assume you did, but in fact your answer is dodgy.

            By what standard does that amount to more than a novice level of experience? Do you honestly believe it is in any way comparable to that of most of the people participating here, including those who are strongly opposed to the CSM credential (the original topic)?

            You keep saying people in the Scrum community aren’t open to criticism and aren’t interested in improving their work. They keep asking you for some sort of actionable feedback they can use to improve their work. In response, you merely repeat your original assertion that they aren’t interested in criticism or improvement.

            You are an output-only device.

            If only you were a better writer. Then, at least, your cynicism and sarcasm might be entertaining.

          2. @Dave:

            I give many suggestions on my blog that are postive in nature on




            I even make positive suggestions on my rhetorical anti patterns post.

            I have directed people to my blog many times, as I see no need to repeat my analysis here.

            Additionally as I point out on my blog, whether scrum works or not is a gamble.

            It doesn’t matter if I went to vegas and bet on the black roulette wheel and won, or that someone else did the same thing and lost.

            I point out that self organization is a gamble. I point to work done by Nanoka et al in that area. And I point out that the thing the community needs to focus on most is making that self organization productive.

            Go read my blog

          3. @Dave, as it was I who introduced the phrase “cynicism and sarcasm” I want to be clear that I wasn’t referring to Jordan, but to a course participant of mine a few years back. I don’t find Jordan’s remarks to be either cynical or sarcastic. Outraged and indignant would be more accurate descriptors.

          4. @Dave

            I’d also like to point out that your post above exhibits rhetorical anti patterns #3, #7, and #8.


            Please refrain from such conduct in the future.

            I am a humble person; I don’t go around wagging the fact that I’m a former CEO that oversaw a team of 15 including developers, marketing, sales and finance, with revenue above $1MM/year. What is your background in that area?

            When it comes to running a software company, I have more direct experience than most CSM’s, without a doubt.

            It’s always a good idea to never underestimate the other party.


          5. @Tobias,

            Please accept my apology for misunderstanding the context of your “cynicism and sarcasm” remark.

          6. @Jordan,

            I’ve read the blog entries you linked as well as several others on your site. I think I have a better concept of your experience level now.

            You oversaw 15 developers and were responsible for a 1 million dollar budget. Wow.

            You’ve accomplished what few have done: You’ve left me speechless.

          7. @Dave, apology not needed. Jordan claimed those properties for himself, and you were responding to him, not me. Just wanted both of you to be clear that I didn’t assign them.

          8. @Tobias

            I’m certainly sarcastic. And a little cynical. But I try to make it useful and balanced.

            My earlier postings are very dry and clinical.

            My later attempts are more spicy.

            I haven’t quite gotten to an extreme level and I hope I stay that way.

            There is power in humor and irony and in this field, there is so much, it would be remiss to not avail myself to it.

            But my jokes are to provide insight not merely to slam.


          9. @Jordan
            > I’m certainly sarcastic. And a little cynical. But I try to make it useful and balanced.

            sarcastic and cynical is never useful in discussions. Especially online ones.

          10. @Yves

            While I’ll agree being cynical isn’t all that helpful for online discussions neither is being erudite (look it up).

            Bottom line, even without cynicism, to convey thoughts like I want to, to readers who are not native speakers would require me to simplify my language to a point that I’m not happy with.

            I post on english language blogs, in a way that I feel that, at least, native speakers will understand.

            If non native speakers have trouble with the subtleties, and I’m sure they do, that isn’t a constraint on what I say.

            I’m not going to give up biting wit that is apropos to please a global audience.


          11. @Jordon: Observation: You give up on 3/4 of the world.
            Observation: you complain people don’t listen to you.

            >bottom line, even without cynicism, to convey thoughts >like I want to, to readers who are not native speakers >would require me to simplify my language to a point that >I’m not happy with.

            That is not only rude that is wrong.

            It’s not because we might not use the same smart words you do that we are stupid.

          12. @Yves

            I don’t think you are stupid. You are right that it’s 3/4 of the world.

            But it’s 3/4 of the world that isn’t going to pay me any money…

            Further… you wouldn’t want Le Monde or any French publication to simplify their French so that people who are poor french speakers (myself included, but I am beyond poor in that area) will understand.

            That’s just the way it goes.


          13. > But it’s 3/4 of the world that isn’t going to pay me any money…
            Are you only interested in talking to people who are paying you any money?

            that is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

            I am active on blogs around the world, and I do have respect for agilists from everywhere. Even the ones were it takes me time to understand their English, French, Dutch (and even in languages I don’t speak where google translate helps me.) This has given me the opportunity to talk and work around the world.
            I know that this is true for Dave & Tobias also.

            They do pay me money because I pay them attention.
            More important, I meet people from around the world that are smarter then most people I know in my home country.
            Not because people in my country our stupid, but because the rest of the world has so much more people then my country.
            And although the US is bigger then Belgium. It still is true for the US also.

            I’m not asking to simplify what you say (although that would probably help everyone to understand you)
            I’m asking you to drop the sarcasm as it does not serve you.
            It’s not about you saying the right things, it’s about me understanding what you are trying to say.

            Maybe it’s just me, but the more you use smart word and the more you put yourself above others in whatever way, the less I listen.

            This whole threat reminds me of a video I posted of Jeff Bezos a few montsh ago:


          14. @Jordan
            erudite: characterized by great knowledge; learned or scholarly
            synonyms: educated, knowledgeable; wise, sapient.

            Why is that not helpful in an online discussion? I don’t get it.

            > If non native speakers have trouble with the subtleties…
            I guess I do too, for regarding all this biting wit, humor and irony (not to mention the sarcasm and cynicism), I don’t see it. Perhaps you’d point out some examples in your comments here. I’m wondering if we have a different understanding of some of these terms.

          15. @Jordan

            > As people can plainly see, I’m here to attack the issues.

            Really? Your words say otherwise.

            Quote: “You are just continuing to use rhetorical antipatterns”
            Quote: “You are just smearing me and making broad generalizations with no support.”
            Quote: “Clearly you are arrogant.”
            Quote: “you have anger management issues.”
            Quote: “Who would want to hire someone [like you]”
            Quote: “Many of your tirades are ridiculous”

            You, you, you, you, you… Which issue, exactly, were you attacking with all these accusations?

            You know, you can stop digging that hole for yourself any time you choose to. Then again, perhaps if I were a kinder person I’d gently take away your shovel.

          16. @Tobias: Yes I pointed out to those things after you needless commented on my postings.

            It’s true that you go on tirades; it’s true that you have anger management issues based on many things, not the least of which is your public trashing of your previous employer.

            Of course you are continuing to try to smear me, that is what you are doing in your posting right now.

            Give it up already? If you don’t act in ways that are antipatterns I won’t have to point it.

            I have no desire to keep pointing it out. Sorry, your lame attempts to provoke arguments aren’t going to work.


          17. @Tobias:

            FWIW the “issue” that I’m pointing out is not necessarily meant to be an attack on you personally.

            It gets to my statement in my blog on anti patterns:

            “And I would certainly be wary of hiring any “Certified Master” who has been indoctrinated in harmful conversational antipatterns by these Trainers who have demonstrated that they use dysfunctional antipatterns as a routine matter – that would be an impediment to any smooth running team.”

            You are the classic example of that and you demonstrate it every day.

            This is exactly why I think people who have been so indoctrinated into these antipatterns should not be hired and you just continue to demonstrate that.


          18. > You are the classic example of [something terrible] and you demonstrate it every day.

            Ah, another issue attack. Come on Jordan, hand over the shovel.

  19. Some people weren’t reinstated, regardless of the claims that may have been made at the time. 😉

    In many ways it is an indictment of the Scrum community that it was tolerated, and still seems to be tolerated even today in some circles. If a community is going to preach open and honest communication, respect, telling the emperor he has no clothes, and other laudable goals then it should actually act in that manner.

    1. Again, this is not “a community” Scott, this was Ken making a call. What would you have had everyone else on the list do? Unsubscribe in sympathy with you? Many people made their feelings known, but the discussion with or without you, or me, goes on and provides value.

      1. Considering that there was consistently questionable behavior from Ken which was clearly in contradiction to what he espoused then it would have been nice to see a bit more pushback from others. Granted, there was some pushback over time as the problem became incredibly clear to everyone and eventually Ken was motivated to give up his moderator status.

        Yes, I agree with your comment that it was mostly a personal issue with Ken. Seemed to happen a lot, and I suspect the ongoing conversation did in fact suffer when some people were banned from the list. I’ve moderated several discussion forums over the years, and in all that time I’ve only had to ban one person for poor behavior. Granted, I also have had to prod a few people to improve their behavior, but that’s part of the game. I additionally banned a lot of people for very obvious spam, but that’s a different issue.

        1. Of course all this still continues. It started with XP. Remember, originally there were posts on news groups. Then, XP moved to a yahoo list where they could ban people. Scrum used the same tactics.

          Now, they have moved the “CST” list to a closed list on linkedin. Most linkedin groups are visible to, for instance google searches. Not the CST one.

          Transparency? Not a chance.

          I saw an interesting quote that I find quite apropos.

          In discussing the birthers someones said: “You can’t reason someone out of something they weren’t reasoned into.”

          Exactly right; that has been a source of much frustration.

          When I try to use logic and reason with these people it doesnt work , because they didnt use logic and reason to get INTO scrum.

          They got in on an emotional level. So logic and reason doesn’t seem to have any effect.

          With Schwaber and Co, what it seems to me, is it just about protecting the revenue stream.

          They want to sell what they have, in large amounts, and don’t want the appearance of any criticism, period.


      2. Exactly, the discussion goes on with or without people like Scott’s or my opinion and gives the very wrong appearance that everyone agrees with Ken et al.

        Plenty of people know not to go to those lists, because their comments won’t be heard.

        I’ve never been kicked off the lists — because I never joined.

        That applies to just about everyone who disagrees with scrum.

        I’m glad that light is being shined into this area, and yes I agree with Scott that the community is hypocritical for not adapting and inspecting scrum, and tolerating ill behavior from leaders and prophets.

        It’s like people in some sort of religion that preaches tolerance and openness, but if the cult leaders do things that are in contradiction to that, it’s blindly accepted.

        We see that in this “community” constantly. As I’ve said so many times, I don’t understand why this scrum movement has any credibility at all.

        But since they do their best to censor all dissent, and make sure that their CSM’s hew to the party line with threats of nonrenewal, then managers who are looking for a new solution see Scrum as all bunnies and roses, simply because everything that doesn’t pander to those viewpoints is blocked either on the official lists, or by the many, many, pro scrum blogring CSM’s who do the exact same thing.


        1. @Jordan – Totally enjoy your candidness (and others too on this thread!). This is why AgileScout exists, to shed light into that which is hidden (we enjoy reporting the news and let our many readers comment!)

          We don’t block/delete/ban users or comments. It’s an open thread.

          The desire for us is that discussion can drive action and awareness to things that need improvement. Hopefully all this will drive awareness to a much needed improvement in the Scrum image or business model even.

          @Tobias – We’re glad you’re still much willing to speak to your comments and openness about your opinions around the scrum alliance. Keep up the (tough) but good work!

          @Scott – Looking forward to how you’re going to change the world~~~

          1. @Jordan
            > I don’t feel like hijacking this thread
            As Peter expresses this is a blog for open discussion. It is very different from most blogs that way. I’d be interested in hearing your scrum team experiences here, should you care to share them.

    1. Too bad. Maybe you can star a mirror blog. Or are your words owned by IBM? I’m sure I am not alone In wantin to comment on your blog and being frustrated. Seems like some good dialog may be generated by your stance.

      1. I recently started a blog on so we’ll need to see how that evolves.

        Anything I write on is IBM IP, nature of the beast. Anything I write elsewhere is not owned by IBM and is dependent on the licensing scheme.

        It’s fairly painless to fill out the IBM form. Annoying mind you, but painless.

    2. FWIW the DDJ blog was really annoying as well…

      For all the people wanting my “scrum experiences” blogged about here I’ll just say a few comments:

      1) If I blog about that it will be on my own blog

      2) To really give a clear picture on what was going on, would involve getting into the specific issues, like team sizes, corporate culture, development environment, unique management structures, all of which were impediments, and it just would make it hard to keep the project anonymous.

      If I left out all those details (which make it a real world exercise and not just scrum as a sphere), then it would be hard to see what didn’t work about it.

      But, I do have quite a bit of analysis and my thoughts on not just Scrum being bad, but many parts of Agile being broken and ill conceived.

      For starters please read:

      Thank you… And sorry Scott but given the way the reply tag works I just thought I’d add both these comments here….


      1. Additionally I’d just like to add that on those postings, I *DO* go into positive suggestions.

        I first identify what is “broken” and then go about how to fix it.

        I plan on blogging more about how to fix the issues, but so I can link back to my previous posts from my newer ones, I’ve been incrementally blogging in a bottom up fashion.

        It builds the foundation for what I’ll later be recommending.

        But don’t look for universal predictions…my ultimate recommendation is to do what makes sense, not what you are told to do.


      2. At the risk of boring everyone just a little bit further I’d like to also say:

        1) I think there are good points and bad points to all the approaches

        2) I think we need to harness the good in a way that is malleable

        3) Realistically, a hybrid approach is what is going to be most pragmatic (see my blog for more insight)

        4) This should be discussed rationally

        Taking a purist view one way or the other is just not practicable.

        I look forward, as does I am sure, Scott, Alan Shalloway, etc, to the ability to talk about different approaches to agile for different situations.

        I look forward to the community to be able to discuss such approaches without dismissing them as “non purist”.

        I look forward to everyone being able to have an honest debate without antipatterns.

        Now let’s all have a hug and get back to debating something meaningful, in a positive manner.


    1. Hi Adrian,

      I read your blog post and I agree with pretty much everything you say there. The Scrum Alliance is a “non-profit” set up so partners can make “huge profit”. You are correct in that observation. The online test is a sham, added to appease those who feel that no certificate has no value unless you take a test; its only possible value is to tell an individual, roughly, where they might focus to improve their knowledge. So indeed, be deeply skeptical of the letters CSM on a resume. I wish more followed your common sense. Among people holding the CSM are a unitarian minister, a high school student and a taxidermist. There’s your base line 🙂

      However, I do want to differ with you on one point (more an academic one than anything else). To learn Scrum well, to learn it effectively you have to experience it. Much of this experience can come on the job, but when you don’t know what you don’t know it is hard to make the necessary mindshift and practical adjustments needed. You can read books for some of this, for sure, but the experience you may get in a well-facilitated and highly interactive class will be a kick-start, and may offer some profound aha! moments. Is it worth $1,400? Probably not, but the price does vary — however NOT in alignment with quality, so be careful.

      Disclosure: I teach Scrum. I don’t teach CSM any longer, and I am not a Scrum Alliance partner. I believe my workshops offer great value, and the fact that I am still working in this field, without offering certificates, indicates this may be true.

      If you change your mind about CSM, or find that it will help your career in some way (yes, sadly it has come to this) I’d be happy to give you a short list of CSM trainers that in my opinion are the best in the business. You should also research the individual trainer (and where a company is listed in place of a real person, forget it). Not all trainers will offer the rich experience I allude to here, so choose wisely.

    2. Really enjoyed your post Adrian. I liked this quote from your blog post:

      “So as it stands, I am no longer interested in getting a scrum master certification. Instead I will continue to learn and develop by actually doing, and learning on my own. If someone wants to see a CSM cert, then I don’t think I want to work with them or for them”.

      I hope you remain firm in your convictions. We need more people like yourself to stand up and do the right thing.


  20. I took the CSM workshop as a follow up to the onsite training our company had arranged.

    I didn’t think I’d learn much more than what we had learned from the hands-on training. But I found it actually very beneficial.

    If you’re getting into Scrum, you need to start somewhere. The CSM training, at least in my case, went into the deep understanding of why we do these various practices, organizational behavior, leading change, and even human psychology.

    On the hiring side of things, there’s an explosion of agile related activity. I’m sure there are companies that aren’t quite sure how to filter for the top candidates, so filtering for the CSM designation might be something they do.

    However as a Manager of a web development team, when hiring you try to gather as many elements/clue/pieces to a persons profile as possible as it is a big decision to hire someone. The CSM to me doesn’t say they’re an expert, but rather that they at least have that formal theory as a foundation.

    Our team had been self learning agile for months, and we felt fairly confident in all the dots, but the CSM training course helped connect the dots.

    As a hiring manager what I’d also look into, if someone has a CSM, is where they got it from and who the trainer was. Having experienced four agile trainers training our company at different times, the trainer/coach makes a huge difference.

    The denouncing CSM movement did makes sense to me on a surface level – if a 5 year old can take the course and get a CSM… it’s worthless. However on a deeper level it serves as a starting point, that you’ve been formally presented with how all the dots fit together, and ideally that you care enough about the cause to begin immersing yourself in the theory.

    But it’s only a start – if you were to interview with me, I’d then want to see how you applied that theory, lead change, and helped an organization maximize it’s value in I.T.

  21. I’ve been an IT project manager for over 20 years and been running agile projects for around 9. I had never found a reason for me to put myself through any kind of certification, especially the PMP.

    But about 3 years ago now I attended a CSM course just to satisfy my own curiosity about agile certification. That curiosity was certainly satisfied as I could quite easily have turned up and just drank the coffee for two days. I would still have been certified as a scrum master. I appreciate that you now have to pass an exam, but it still lacks something, in that it doesn’t actually prove that you’re going to respond well to the challenges thrown at you in an agile project.

    Your responses to these challenges will depend not just on what you know about agile, but on your pragmatism and your understanding of agile values etc. It will also depend on your courage, an XP value and no certification exam is going to test that.

    I like to keep an open mind on these things and I accept that some people like to get certified. But I will continue to not attach much value to the CSM label and continue to not include it in my signature.

  22. I have a CSM (Certified Shopping Center Manager) designation from ICSC (International Shopping Center Society). So this could be confusing.

Leave a Reply