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Having Your Cake... Some Thoughts Around Scrum Certification

To some extent, I think that Scrum is going through an identity crisis. Part of what has made Scrum so successful is its simplicity. We've got three roles, three ceremonies, and three artifacts. That's a pretty refreshing idea to those of us that came out of much more heavyweight methodologies. Scrum has a simple elegance that is easy to communicate and easy to sell.

The Scrum community is full of some really smart people. If you've been building software for more than 10 minutes or so, you know that Scrum doesn't tell you everything you need to know to be a good software engineer, a good tester, a good business analyst, or even a good ScrumMaster. It is up to us to bring our skills and experiences to the table and fill in the gaps. We figure out how to make it work.

So here is what I want to know... if Scrum is a simple framework... if it is so clear and precise that we can talk about Scrum-But and call out those people that aren't doing it right... where is the definitive body of knowledge? Where is the documented set of stuff that is acceptable on most Scrum projects, most of the time? How do I tell the difference between when I'm bending Scrum to hide my own disfunction versus just filling in the gaps? Who gets to decide? Am I just supposed to know it when I see it?

This identity crisis becomes really apparent when we start talking about Scrum certification. What is there really to certify when the rules of Scrum are so simple? Not much. What about when we start offering specialized certifications like the Certified Scrum Product Owner? What does Scrum really teach us about being a good Product Owner? In my opinion, not a whole lot. How about a Certified Scrum Developer? That role doesn't even exist in Scrum. Furthermore, does Scrum say anything about good development practices? Not at all.

Scrum can't have it's cake and eat it too. It can't be a simple framework that is not prescriptive and then start certifying people on how to do all this stuff.

If we are going to acknowledge that there is actually a set of generally accepted practices that work well with Scrum, let's start building our body of knowledge and open up Scrum to public debate. I just can't get my head around certifying anyone on anything without at least a general definition of what we are certifying against. In the absence of some sort of accepted standard, 'Certified Scrum' anything is just a marketing gimmick.

What do you think, am I missing something?

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