Lateral Insight – Certified Scrum Master training should be retired

Where I beg to differ –

Scrum Master training certification has worn off

For some years, anytime a client brings a Scrum Master fresh out of Certified Scrum Master training I have to clean up the mess. Some key mistakes are taught, and I’m not talking about details or things that the learner have misunderstood, I see them in learning materials:

  • iteration planning being scope oriented (nope, it’s goal oriented but the scope is totally flexible)
  • Scrum Master to assign tasks to teammates (nope, teammates assign tasks to themselves in a self-organised and concerted fashion, SM helps by facilitating the discussion eventually)
  • Progress forecast done by planning tasks estimated in man.hours or man.days (nope, progress is forecasted a projection of past performances, and work chunks just loosely weighted relative to past work chunks, in points or size categories for example)

I had to fix these mistakes probably 80-90% of the time, to the point were I prefer my clients to not have undergo a CSM if I don’t know their trainer. So should we keep running this training at all?

I relate this to the attention to certification. 

Originally, the certification served as a guarantee about the content and the delivery of the training, but to which extent can you guarantee that? This training has been around for more than a decade and now the Agile mass adoption is here. There is a huge market of consumers for this training and it attracts a lot business attention. I’ve been contacted numerous time by business contacts willing to get their “share of the cake” (true quote) with relative disregard for the quality of the training. If the quality of the certification can’t be enforced, it becomes a cheap token of reputation to sell a training.

Last comment: honestly CSM was never a good Scrum Master training! It’s a general Scrum training, and it doesn’t teach the skills required to be a Scrum Master (that’s why I train to Agile Facilitation instead).

My take today after pondering a lot on this for the last years: I think we should take CSM to retirement. It was useful but now we know better and the certification has worm off. Get the client back to the old school way of finding an appropriate training: what’s the reputation of the training? what’s the reputation of the trainer? 

What I’m busy with –

  • reusing the immense material that came up while building “Transformations done right” at Voxxed Days
  • setting up new workshops for Startupers who care to become great bosses
  • finding partnerships to build Agile trainings that don’t suck

Questions in my head –

Are Scrum Masters going to disappear? 

I see already extended variants of this role: melting the role to a set of activities handled collectively by the team ; or evolving to an organisation coach helping inter-team cooperation. Here and there some company see SM as best positioned to be delivery managers with a very empowering management style (manager coach / servant leadership). If done right, I don’t disagree, I coached some managers Scrum Master myself and it made sense.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we were about to see the Scrum Masters role pattern disappear and some new organisational pattern emerge in its wake in the coming years.


This was Lateral Insight, your weekly dose of lateral thinking by Giom
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