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Unsatisfied? Uncertified? Unvalued?

When I announced having passed the Professional ScrumMaster II assessment (including getting certified) the reactions were -to say the least- mixed. People I have effectively worked with sent me warm congratulations. People more distant to me seemed more cynical and skeptical. Time to set free your psychoanalytic ambitions!

I partly share the cynicism, skepticism and unbelief with regards to certification in general in our world of IT, consultancy and software development. But a little common sense makes one don’t consider certification solely, but experience, attitude and personality as well.

I know that calling people Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) after merely attending a 2-day course isn’t too credible. Can I say to my credit that it was 3 days when I did it in 2004? But that was then. Nowadays the ScrumAlliance requires participants to do an online CSM evaluation.

And it doesn’t justify any reservations on the PSM program!

Last year, Ken Schwaber and the ScrumAlliance parted and Ken started (for a couple of reasons). He developed new and updated programs upon effective knowledge assessments. Jeff Sutherland and Ken updated the Scum Guide. To form the Scrum Body of Knowledge.

The Scrum Open Assessment was created incrementally with feedback of the community and serves as a check-up on the subscriber’s knowledge. No medals attached, just knowing where you stand.

The Professional ScrumMaster assessments are not open, but require payment. Luckily, payment is no guarantee. You do not just pay to get a certificate. You obtain 85% or more. has no benefits in creating an unnaturally large amount of PSM’s.

  • PSM I is about knowing how the game should be played. Limited pretensions. It’s also included in the fee for a PSM course, the follow-up to Ken’s original CSM. So it is not just about the money.
  • PSM II is about understanding and applying the underlying principles. Answers that cannot be found directly in the Scrum Guide. Often demanding multiple options with (dis)advantages.

So let no general skepticism stand a correct judgement of the PSM assessments in the way. They emphasize on demonstrable knowledge, over paper certification, which I certainly have come to value more. Reason why I am proud of my PSM II. Though that won’t stop me from being pig-headed in my way of mastering people and projects…

Note: The Professional Scrum Developer (PSD) is an innovative program on software development using Scrum. Resembling my Quality Loops?

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Definition of… Scrum

Is there a way to check on the correct application of Scrum?

Most attempts end up in complex questionnaires or big assessments. This is strange as Scrum is a simple process and has distinct definitions of roles, artefacts and meetings. And I also distinguish core principles.

When presenting Scrum as the core process of my My.Fragility framework I always show my Scrum Diamond, a graphical representation of the 3 essential elements for each of the 4 Scrum ceremonies:

It makes an assessment of Scrum simple: check whether the process and the above ceremonies are in place!

And remember: Scrum prescribes a minimal, but tightly coupled, set of ceremonies. Skipping even only one implies affecting the essence of Scrum. Doing so does not necessarily mean that you are not Agile or don’t perform well, but don’t call it… Scrum.

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Recently Scrum godfather Ken Schwaber resigned as chairman from the ScrumAlliance, which he co-founded.

Logo - Certified ScrumMaster SealI remember Ken from turning my ScrumMaster certification course in 2004 into a great experience. Not because of the certificate, but for comprehending Scrum. I’ve since then advised people to attend the certification course, but mainly to get in touch with other people and dive into the matter.

Scrum.orgKen launched as a move from ceremony and formal organization to process and community. From certification to assessment (for self-improvement). There’s an online Scrum Assessment (note: no longer available), upon a Scrum Guide. Because… “Unlike certification, assessment makes no public claim of competence and cannot be misused to assert qualifications that may or may not exist“.

I scored 69 out of 80 (86%), which took 25 minutes (1h allowed). This feels okay but the most important aspect was that through the reflection on some missed points I could improve my insights.

“Although there’s value in certification, assessment is valued more.”