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Mike Cohn is a consultant and trainer who specializes in helping companies adopt and improve their use of agile processes and techniques in order to build extremely high performance development organizations. He is the author of Succeeding with Agile, Agile Estimating and Planning, and User Stories Applied for Agile Software Development. He can be reached through his website at Mike is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 21 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Scrum Alliance Update

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By now you may have heard that I am the new chairman of the board for the Scrum Alliance. Esther Derby, Ken Schwaber and I cofounded the Scrum Alliance a handful of years ago and it’s grown tremendously since then. We have over 100,000 members, which is pretty amazing when I think back to the days when the people who knew about Scrum would have fit in a conference room.

There has been a lot of criticism aimed at the Scrum Alliance over the past two years, much of it quite deserved. I want to let you know that we have plans to address as many of the issues as we can. As a start we’ve hired a new managing director, Donna Farmer, who has been wonderful to work with during her first six weeks on the job. Donna comes to from outside the Scrum community (which is probably a good thing) but brings a solid background in leading non-profit organizations, including ones in the high-tech industry.

The Scrum Alliance board met in person in Denver in September and established a number of goals for the coming year. These goals were presented to Donna as our vision for the organization, and Donna has produced a document describing that vision which is available for download. Highlighting just a few things that will make up the Scrum Alliance future direction:

  • A focus on being more transparent to our members. The first meeting with Donna as managing director and me as chairman was open to anyone to dial in and join. We took questions from the dozen or so people who joined us. We will repeat this and with more advance notice next time so more can join us. As part of being transparent, we will also publish Scrum Alliance financials on the website.
  • An improved Certified ScrumMaster exam. We want to get to the point where the exam following a CSM class can be a true pass/fail exam. There’s still a lot of work to get there but this is important. We’ll also introduce a pass/fail exam to follow Certified Scrum Product Owner classes at some point.
  • Open membership. People will be able to join the Scrum Alliance without first taking a ceritification course. They won’t be Certified ScrumMasters or Product Owners, of course, but they will be able to become members of the organization.
  • A better Certified Scrum Trainer application (and renewal) process. This thing has been a disaster for years. There are hardly any two CSTs who became such under the exact same criteria. The board of directors gave Donna a proposed vision for a two-step process featuring an application form and review followed by in-person interviews. She is reviewing that for feasibility and I’m sure will make some changes to it but we’re all committed to fixing this process.
  • Continued improvements to the website.
  • An initiative to make sure that newly-minted ScrumMasters (well, everyone, really) knows that “Scrum Is not Enough” and that there is a whole world of great, agile ideas out there. We want Scrum teams to look beyond the Scrum framework and experience the great ideas found in our sister approaches of lean, Extreme Programming, Kanban, Feature-Driven Development, DSDM, Crystal, Adaptive, and more. To start this off, the Scrum Alliance website and newsletter are soon going to feature articles from Bob Martin on XP and Alan Shalloway on lean. I asked these two well-respected authors to share their insights and the Scrum Alliance 100,000′s members will soon benefit from their thoughts. I’m sure we’ll have many more articles like this.
  • We plan to add a second level to the CSP (Certified Scrum Professional) designation. The new level, CSP2, will be rigorous and a very significant accomplishment for those who achieve it. CSP2 will require three years of experience and what we plan to be a tough exam that will probably be taken in-person and proctored. You’re going to need to study for this one. (So will I.) Since we know that the best teams pull in ideas from beyond Scrum (see previous point) we want to make sure that a CSP2 is a well-rounded agilist familiar with key ideas from the whole wide world of agile.
  • To help emphasize the importance of knowing more than just Scrum, we will continue to emphasize the Registered Education Provider program. We want the Scrum Alliance to be the first place when you think of for any type of agile training. Again, see the point above that Scrum is not enough. We want all world-class trainers to join us as Registered Education Providers.
  • More gatherings. The Scrum Alliance will probably *run* only two Gatherings a year but we want to support more. We want local groups who want Gatherings to contact us, tell us what you need, and we’ll provide as much as we can whether it’s financial support, promotion, or whatever you can think of. I’m hopeful that there’s a request for sponsorship form or instructions on the Scrum Alliance website soon.
  • If I didn’t mention it, don’t worry. Certified Scrum Developer is continuing. So is Certified Scrum Coach. So is probably everything else I don’t have room to mention.

    I’d love to hear your suggestions of other things we can do. Please make your suggestions as comments to this blog post. Please help by making your suggestions as actionable as possible. A suggestion of “let anyone listen in on board meetings” is easier to implement than “be more transparent.”

    It’s a good time to be agile.

Published at DZone with permission of Mike Cohn, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)



Emma Watson replied on Fri, 2012/03/30 - 3:56am

Mike, I see that it will take a long way to fix things but definitely I see that you are driving it to the right direction. I’ve been training people and companies here in Brazil on Scrum and XP since 2006 apart from SA. I really don’t see any benefit on CSM that pays for it’s side-effects. Marketing/Money is not a benefit, solutions are.


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