Certified ScrumMaster Is Not Worth The Paper It Is Written On

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In my opinion, ScrumMaster Certification isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Scrum. Huge fan. It’s really helped to transform the web development department I head up.

And I’m not getting at the training companies that deliver Certified ScrumMaster training either. Nor the people that go on the training.

But I do have a problem with the marketing of this training as ‘Certified ScrumMaster’. Because, to me, this phrase is completely misleading.

Over the years, I have come to think of the word ‘Certified’ as implying some depth of experience or knowledge. Maybe the passing of an exam following a period of study. Maybe a vocational assessment of someone’s ability in the workplace. Something that validates a person’s capability in the subject meets a minimum standard.

But with Certified ScrumMaster training, there is no assessment or exam. No prerequisites for attending the course. No previous project management experience required. No study required. Simply attend a 2 day ScrumMaster course and you are a Certified ScrumMaster.

Secondly, the word ‘Master’ compounds the problem further.

I understand the word ‘Master’ in ScrumMaster means ‘master of ceremonies’. That’s completely logical and makes perfect sense. However the word ‘master’ also happens to mean someone of ‘great and exemplary skill, a worker qualified to teach others and carry on the craft independently; an expert in their craft’.

So, would you not really expect a Certified ScrumMaster, or a Certified Master in any craft, to be someone at the top of their trade? Not someone who received a certicate of attendance following 2 days training.

Calling it Certified ScrumMaster is a master class in marketing. And unfortunately I think it undermines Scrum – a methodology that otherwise can offer huge advantages to development teams of all disciplines.

So is Certified ScrumMaster status worth having?

Is it worth going on the training? Of course. Is it worth quoting your Certified ScrumMaster status to current and potential employers? Possibly not.

Sure, as a company practicing Scrum, I’m interested in people with Scrum training and experience. But as an employer practicing Scrum, I also recognise Certified ScrumMaster status for what it is. And in that respect, it isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.