CSM Training. Reality. Check.

www.implementingscrum.com -- Cartoon -- January 2, 2007

Happy New Year to all readers (new and returning) of www.implementingscrum.com.

We had a late start to the site in 2006 (actually, our first cartoon was published on September 11th) and have seen consistent weekly growth since the initial kickoff.

Tony and I appreciate your interest, questions, and feedback we regularly receive from this very active community. It there is anything else we can do to make your time in our little world more enjoyable, please let us know!

This week I examine — at a pretty high level — what it actually means to “be” a CSM (Certified Scrum Master).

And then what you can do once you have that initial certification in your hands.

This is my view of what you can do, as backed up by information that is available publicly today.

Any errors are my fault and should not be construed as “the way” to do this, as results will vary and I am not liable for any future results (translation: follow at your own risk!).

To become a CSM, you need to do one thing.

Pay your fee (either via your company or by yourself), attend a two day CSM Course, and successfully complete the two days. There are about fifty-two people “certified” to train you throughout the world (yes, I am one of them, and I will talk more about how to become one later in this article.


You are thinking. “Mike, are you kidding me? All it takes to become a CSM is to attend a two day course?”

The easy answer is yes.

And, there are about 9,649 people internationally who have the certification today. You can read more about how *I* present my course — or workshop — here. All CSTs (Certified Scrum Trainers) work off the same principles for their courses or workshops; details of the latest information can be found here.


Does being a CSM actually qualify you to lead and coach and start facilitating a new team?

My classic consultant answer: It depends.

The CSM “stamp” tells the world that you have been through a training class from a Certified Scrum Trainer.

You are now a member of the Scrum Alliance (woot!). This shows the world you understand the basic principles and practices, and each course / workshop is designed to make sure we each consistently give you about fifteen bullet points.

So why does it depend?

Each person is an individual.

You are not resources (smile).

People are different. Some people actually “get it” from day one of being stamped a CSM. Others — many others in fact — do not.

What do I mean, “Get it?”

Scrum is more than just a list of rules you must follow.

In fact, people who “get it” realize that Scrum is not a cookbook.

Only a small percentage “get it” from day one.

Heck, I am a CST and some days I question if I really “get it” — as I learn something new every day.

And this is what the CSM stamp gives you — a heads up that your journey is just beginning. And hopefully you walk out of that two day course / workshop with your eyes open.

Will everyone go back to their “real jobs” and implement the stuff they learn?


And, right or wrong, this is something we all need to understand.

And move on.

This Scrum Stuff is not for everyone.

Really. Recognize and accept that. We are not pushing a cultish religion (OK, I can say that I am not doing that).

So, what is available “after” becoming a CSM.

Approximately one year after becoming a CSM, you can apply to become a CSM Practitioner.

This means paying yet another fee to the Scrum Alliance (as of the beginning of 2007, it is a non-profit organization…. something I will write about in the future as the community learns more about the transfer of assets from the “For Profit” to a “Non Profit” Entity in the USA) and filling out a form to show your proficiency in Scrum. Today, there are 109 of those people internationally.

That is just over 1% of the total CSM Community.

Do all the people who are CSM-Practitioners “get it?”


However, as you can see just by the pure numbers, that small percentage of the overall trained CSMs actually take the time and make the effort to become publicly recognized as a CSM Practitioner.

What is “next?”

The next step is to be a Pracititioner for a set period (a year?) and then apply to become a Certified Scrum Trainer. Prior to November of 2006, this meant co-teaching with Ken Schwaber (one of the founders of Scrum) and him giving you the stamp as a trainer (in addition to paying an additional license fee). Then, each time we teach a course, we pay a license fee for the course information to the Scrum Alliance.

Post November, 2006, the process to become a Certified Scrum Trainer has been updated.

In November, five new Certified Scrum Trainers went through the “new” process to become certified to train.

This “new process” involves a lot of work from both the person wishing to become certified and the committee / panel of Certified Scrum Trainers who now make up a team of people to certify new trainers.� One thing to note — all Certified Scrum Trainers are also Certified Scrum Pracititoners; we actually need to practice what we preach (smile).

And there are 52 of us worldwide. For those keeping the statistics, that means less than a half of one percent of the overall Scrum Community is at that level today.

Overall, this “new process” seems to be a great thing.� Again, this is “new” to the Scrum Community, and something that has been put in place based on a lot of feedback by the overall membership of the Scrum Alliance. More information can be found there. A lot of the outputs from things like Open Space Gatherings and Trainer Gatherings are meant to help guide the overall Scrum effort moving forward.

So, this submission has reviewed the current path of becoming a CSM, a CSM Practitioner, and a Certified Scrum Trainer. Did I get it 100% “right” — probably not.

For the most up-to-date information see the Scrum Alliance site.

Get involved. As you can see, there is plenty of room for talented people to continuing shaping our future.

What I have tried to give you is some information about what you can do as a CSM, using the most current information I have available to me today.

Will it change?

It will change.

Will it adapt?

It will adapt.

One of the main principles of any agile practice — including Scrum — is to inspect and adapt (frequently). As a community, we are doing that.

It is hard.

Like any change management within an organization (especially one that is approaching 10,000 today!).

Finally… if you are looking for a CSM, CSM Practitioner, or Certified Scrum Trainer to work with in your current environment… what do you do?

First, read this article over again. Understand what you are “getting” when you work with someone with a specific certification.

Next, ask questions of whoever you will work with about specific problems you are encountering today… and see how they have handled similar problems in the past.

Talk to people. And listen.

Watch out for people who have all the answers. Big red warning lights should be going off if someone claims they have the “Silver Bullet” that will fix all of your “problems.”

Finally, ask around.

Call me. I can be reached anytime at (619) 709-1716; I will call you back if I cannot answer your call at that moment. Call other CSMs.� Call other CSM Practitioners. Call other Scrum Trainers. The key thing is to talk to people. And listen.

Seeing a theme here?

There are a lot of CSMs out in the wild today. There will be a lot more tomorrow, and the next day, and so on….

Hopefully now you have an understanding — in everyday terminology — what the CSM process looks like today.

Gotta run…

Please send comments, questions, criticisms, ideas, or whatever here.

You can also enter The Scrum Community to discuss this cartoon and other Scrum topics. Thank you!

Originally Published:
January 2, 2007

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