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Is Certified ScrumMaster training worth it?

I just completed the Certified ScrumMaster certification by Scrum Alliance. It was a two day course full of dry-erase markers, slideshows and team activities. Lunch was provided.

Overall, I enjoyed myself. We went over the Scrum roles, the different Scrum Meetings, the Scrum Artifacts and general agile principles. There was plenty of time with each topic to answer questions, and everybody was engaged and part of the discussion. I doodled and took notes with colored sharpies, and there were pipe-cleaners spread about for those of us who like to fidget.

pipecleaners

Punctuated throughout the course were group or team activities. We learned about the perils of micro-managing by trying to talk a team member step-by-step through an obstacle course. We got a taste of working in sprints by creating an infomercial for Martians traveling to Earth. We learned the importance of teaching others through talking to a fake (very stubborn) CEO who wanted everything designed up front, under budget, and on a fixed time-line. We prioritized a backlog and storypointed bicycles.

The instructor was very knowledgeable. The level of exposure to agile of the attendees varied from nearly none, to years of experience. Those of us with more experience were able to share common pitfalls and provide real-world examples.

After the two day course I took a 35 question quiz online (got one wrong). And printed out my certificate. I am now officially a Certified ScrumMaster.

So, is it worth it? I would say “Yes”…. and “No”. It depends. Here’s what I like and don’t like about it.

Good

  • Scrum provides a common language for talking about development: Two people from two different companies can talk to each other about their process and Scrum can be that jumping off point for the conversation.
  • Be part of the discussion: Someone can read all they want, but nothing beats asking a question to a group of people. “The most efficient … method of conveying information … is face-to-face conversation.”
  • Actually doing: Even if it’s in a classroom, there is value in practicing putting ourselves in the different rolls and meetings. Experience trumps all.

Bad

  • It’s very easy: How much of a “certified” “master” can one be after two days?
  • Employers value it: I just searched for “Certified ScrumMaster” on LinkedIn and found 268 listings in the U.S. with companies such as Lockheed-Martin and Apple.

So would I suggest it? Here’s my answer(s) depending on who’s asking:

Employers: No. Put no value on a SCM. Look for experience, ask about experience. Drill down.

Scrum practitioners: No. If you’re already experienced at agile and already successfully using scrum, don’t bother with this training. Still, be part of the conversation. Be part of the community. You could get the same value (or more) out of supporting a local Scrum User Group (SUG) instead.

Interviewee: Yes. There are employers who put value on this, be that good or bad. I’ve heard of interviews with a disproportionate number of questions addressing an Agile Certification. If you’re experienced and just want something on the resume, I recommend Professional Scrum Master (PSI) it’s $150 and 80 questions. There, I just saved you two days and thousands of dollars.

Scrum Learner: Yes. If I were introducing Scrum to a team with no experience, this would be an awesome class for all the members to attend. Are there cheaper effective alternatives out there? No doubt.

In summary, I enjoyed myself. I’m glad I didn’t pay for it. And from now on when I see the words “Certified ScrumMaster”, I will read “Attended a two day seminar”.


So, what do you think ?