Certified Scrum Training – Debunking the BullShit

Scrum Training today is available in many different flavors and formats around the world.

People are always debating the values of “certification” and this will be an endless discussion.  While everyone is having these discussions (yawn to me), I continue to travel the world training people on Scrum.  And other agile techniques.  I also *use* this stuff daily  to run my company (more on this in another posting) and coach individuals to help us both keep improving our skills.

Welcome back to the ImplementingScrum site.  If this is your first time here, take a peek around.  There is a TON of information here.  This site has been around for almost five years now, and while some of the ways I implement techniques today are different (they keep improving) the comic strips here usually start some good conversations.

So I selected one of the most popular and un-politically-correct comic strips from a posting I published a LONG time ago (take a look at it here — cute, and wow that was so long ago in this internet age we live in today).  I have mostly been using things like Twitter and FaceBook (and others) to get information out — but also realize this channel of communicating with people (via the blog) is important… so it is [again] restarting with more postings of my [possible rants] in the future!

And. I titled this blog posting pretty provocatively.

I know the combination of un-politically-correct and provocative will help open conversations.  Who knows what kind of conversations, but hey that is up to you!

THAT is the important thing with this blog.  People either love it or hate it, but talk about it.

So… Let’s bring that to the topic of “Certified Scrum Training – Debunking the Bullshit.”

This should be fun, huh?  I figure if you are still with me than you are wondering why this is  important.

I am a Certified Scrum Trainer and that is a trademarked name from the Scrum Alliance, the body that certifies people who have taken my class as Certified ScrumMasters.

It does not certify competency.  It cannot.  OK… Like it or leave it, that’s an established fact (that people will debate!).

It does certify people who have taken the workshop have paid their money, the Certified Scrum Trainer has paid the Scrum Alliance a $50.00 fee so that they can take the assessment and become members (all Certified Scrum Trainers must do that).  And you can do a lot more with the Scrum Alliance — and should.  Here is some good background information from the Scrum Alliance FAQ that tells you how to move forward with them after you are a Certified ScrumMaster.

There are still a limited number of Certified Scrum Trainers in the world.  The market is showing that there is still a pretty strong demand for this type of Certification.  Why is there a demand?  People want it (possibly not the people taking the workshop — could  be their bosses or organizations are forcing them to attend or organizations want to send one person expecting that the newly Certified ScrumMaster can train the rest of the organization).  All of those statements are up for debate, and will always be debated.


Move on with the debate.

So if it is so controversial, why do I do it?

I LOVE teaching this workshop.  I have fun.  I learn.  Every time.  Every place.

Here is a current description of what it is like to take the workshop with me… www.michaelvizdos.com/experiential-csm.

It has evolved (and will continue after each workshop, as no one is ever the same).

People who have taken the Certified ScrumMaster Training Workshop with me are usually satisfied.  I know I cannot solve problems for all of the attendees — that is not the purpose.

The purpose of the Certified ScrumMaster Training Workshop that people attend with me today (and remember it continues to evolve) is to learn about Scrum in an experiential way.  They should be able to answer questions about Scrum on their own by the end of the two days — using the framework and experiences from attending.

People who attend my Certified ScrumMaster Training Workshop receive a lot of value — because it is an environment where people can learn (from me and mostly the other attendees).  My training is different than any other Certified Scrum Trainer.  It should be (other organizations disagree and that is OK).

I also tell every attendee that this will not make them experts at being a ScrumMaster, Product Owner, or Team Member.

In fact, I now understand  that each individual will walk out at the end of the two days latching onto only one or two things that we discussed AND that fits into their current world paradigm (it used to bug me, now it does not).


Two days… and only one or two key things (that was said and they heard what they wanted to hear).

Is this cutting through the bullshit of debates and bla bla bla out there about Scrum Certification?

I am sure there is SO much more that can (and will be) said on this topic.  Like I said up front, this is a provocative and controversial topic.

And the purpose of this blog over the years has evolved into learning about how to have tough conversations about Software Development.

Yes… Scrum can be used outside of Software Development (another topic for later again!!) but here’s the thing…

Talk about this stuff all you want.

Get out there and practice it.

Thank you!

Looking forward to hearing comments, suggestions, and ideas on here, in FaceBook, GooglePlus, or however else you want.


But do.



  1. Hi Mike,

    I took one of your CSM courses almost 2 years ago, I really enjoyed it and learned lots. As you’ve said, it’s only the beginning of the journey and I only really started to learn when I moved into a Scrum Master role – I personally learn and develop by doing, not listening. The CSM course introduced me to others in the agile community and that’s just as important. I think some people get hung up by titles – “Certified”, “Master” – the bottom line is that the 2 day course gives us a grounding in the principles and then it’s up to us to adapt our ways of working around these to suit the needs of our company.

    Agile continues to grow in the UK and, as far as I’m concerned, I’d rather leave the profession than return to the dark, dismal days of waterfall.


  2. Chris Sheild says:

    I have always liked your style Mike – and long may you enjoy your work travelling the world and continue to turn a dollar running the course ;-}

    I have not taken a CSM course – in NZ $2000+ for two days just doesn’t cut it, although if you came to NZ I’d probably do it just to meet you and talk s*%$ about project management – but I have read your books and a wide range of other books on agile, I have watched countless webinars and am an avid “agile” blog reader and commenter. I also have practiced project management for 9 years now and I think I have a good grasp on what tools are available to me as a PM and what suit my style. I am an “adaptive PM” – I tailor the tools to meet the project and the organisation I am working in. So I pick and choose my tools to meet the needs of the project – some are “agile” some more traditional.

    I am not a CSM but many of the values and philosophies of “agile” I follow and practice as a PM daily without doing a CSM course. In saying that even without doing a SM course I have picked up some more good ideas to use on my projects its just that I don’t think I need the title and to spend $2000+ dollars to get them to add to my repertoire.

  3. Joe Little says:

    Hi Mike,

    Yes. Certification per se is not very important. What is important is that people’s lives get better.

    Scrum is one method of getting better. I don’t know anyone who debates that. And the debate should be….’well, how much better can Scrum make my/our lives’. My answer: a whole lot more than we have achieved so far. And for some of the best teams, that has been fantastic so far.

    Maybe there are other ways to improve work life more. Geez, hard for me to imagine something that has even more potential.

    I guess I need to add: XP, kanban, Lean and other ideas need to be added to Scrum to bring out the full potential of the team (or the larger group).

    Regards, Joe

  4. Hello Mike says:

    Re: CSM

    I really think Scrum Alliance CSM process is really bullshit! Two-day training and 36-multiple choice questions simply don’t cut it.

    I have been on the ground doing scrum works as scum master and scrum COACH for fortune 50 software company. I have prepare and offered 4-day training/workshop that covers scrum basics to tools such as Rally and Quality Center. I have taught and coached scrum maters, PO, and scrum teams. I have been in software development as developer/managers for 18 years. I have

    Yet, I am not certified. Not even CSM. I can’t seem to justify USD2000.00 for a two day training and a piece of paper that does ABSOLUTELY nothing!

    I really think Scrum Alliance is really cooking a new scheme to milk money from those whose are desperated for new and better way of software development.

    Have a good day Mike!

  5. Although it will not make you an expert, go into the CSM Workshop with an open mind and you’ll learn something new.

    That’s part of the Agile mindset — beginners mind.

    Also, I *still* learn new things every time I facilitate a new workshop.

    Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate your thoughts.

    - mike


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