Friday, September 18, 2009

CSM Exam - about time!

Reading Danube's blog The CSM Exam.

Some background - the CSM (Certified Scrum Master) is a certification by the Scrum Alliance that has been given to every (99.999% perhaps I exaggerate) one that attended the 2 day training program. The certification has been a contronversy for as long as it has been offered (many years now). The Alliance is putting a real written exam into place as a requirement for certification.

I think a real test is a GREAT thing. Given that it is a “certification”.

Definition of certification: a document attesting a level of achievement in a course of study or training.

Attendance, the previous requirement does not “attest to a level of achievement”.

In Danube's post they state:
“Of course, the flipside is that an exam will only test attendees on certain aspects of the Scrum framework in a format that does not necessarily promote a deep understanding of Scrum’s values.”

The assumption in this statement appears to be that the test is not well designed or that it cannot test values. I have not seen the test, but assume that it will test the knowledge of the values of Scrum. This is very testable. The certification (as typically applied in many industries) attest to the knowledge of a body of knowledge (BOK) (don’t go all PIMBOK on me - yes Scrum has its own BOK). The certification does not state that the bear has the attitudes and exhibits the behaviors of the values. Which I think is what Danube is concerned with in their statement about Scrum’s values.

So how does one test or assert the affective nature or the behavior nature of a person? This is typically done via case study of the person. Is this not what the next level of Scrum certification attempts to do? The CSP (Certified Scrum Practitioner) is a certification that attest that the bear of said certification (oh so formal - just say - the CSP) has shown (through self report) the values and behaviors taught in the BOK of Scrum.

Testing for CSM brings the Scrum certification into minimum compliance with the common understanding of the terms. That is a value of Scrum/Agile - to state clearly what we are going to do, then do it, and have an objective measure of DONE, demonstrate that level of DONENESS, and then be capable of continuing down the path.

I say - about time - what took you so long - and don’t give me that stinking incremental-iterative argument. The facts will not bear out the delay in a real test over how many thousands of CSM there are (982 pages A-Z).
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