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Re: Certified ScrumMaster

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  • Mary Poppendieck <mary@poppendieck.com>
    I have had one good and one bad certification experience. The good one was APICS (American Production and Inventory Control Society). It was a challenging
    Message 1 of 113 , Mar 2, 2003
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      I have had one good and one bad certification experience. The good
      one was APICS (American Production and Inventory Control Society).
      It was a challenging certification program, with difficult tests
      based on a lot of details that you had to learn. APICS required a
      lot of studying and hard work over a series of 5 tests. When Just-in-
      Time concepts came onto the scene, much of what we learned in APICS
      was rendered obsolete. Interestingly enough, APICS turned on a
      dime, changed its exam focus, and *led* the manufacturing excellence
      movement, which turned later into lean manufacturing. APICS still
      leads that field today.

      I asked a friend who led the local APICS how they stayed relevant.
      He said, first of all, all classes are done at universities or in
      local study groups. They are very careful NOT to certify any
      private training companies. That is, no one makes much money, and
      thus has a lot invested, in APICS certification courses. Second,
      the tests are evaluated and content updated each year. It is
      assumed that what is relevant today will not be what was relevant
      yesterday. There is no permanent `body of knowledge'.

      The bad experience was PMI. I could not even bring myself to
      consider PMI certification. Founded in government contracting, the
      PMI body of knowledge has always been focused on CYA activity. The
      body of knowledge is quite shallow so pretty much anyone can learn
      the material and get certified. Many private agencies make lots of
      money teaching certification courses, and in order to teach PMI
      courses you have to subscribe to some basic fallacies that no one is
      permitted to question. Thus there is a strong bias against change
      and adaptability in this system.

      On to Scrum certification. The problem with anything you can learn
      in a day is that there is not much content there to study, unlike
      APICS, or actuarial work or even architecture. Thus the real
      learning is not in the facts, but the attitudes toward people,
      management, measurement, and so on. Attitudes are tricky things to
      teach and ever so much trickier to certify. They are highly
      dependent on the capability of the people being certified and the
      attitudes of their management.

      Lean manufacturing has had plenty of flash-in-the-pan successes
      followed by a return to mediocrity. Why? The senior management
      didn't get it, which is not a surprise because much of lean thinking
      is counterintuitive to western thinking. Something which runs
      counter to the prevailing culture is not sustainable without a
      cultural change, and culture change comes only from the top.

      I like Jim Collins book `Good to Great' which describes the seven
      things common to companies which were good, then became great.
      Right up there at the top was to get the right people on the bus and
      in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus. I fear that
      many certification programs are attempts to avoid the exercise of
      making sure the right people are on board and the wrong ones
      dismissed. Collins points out that with the right people on board,
      discipline takes care of itself and you don't need 'improvement
      programs'.

      I think that Hal and Greg are on to something (below), and we should
      find out more about it.

      Mary Poppendieck

      --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, Hal Macomber <hal@h...>
      wrote:
      >
      > Thought you would be interested in what we are doing for lean
      project delivery. Greg Howell and I offer an 8-month porgram for
      developing the competence to deliver projects on a lean basis. 12
      people will finish the program at the end of March. Another 12
      people started the program in February.
      > I don't know where to start to describe what we are doing. We are
      not 'certifying' participants per se. Nor are we testing them on a
      defined body of knowledge. Our focus is on having participants
      develop a perpective and set of practices for providing leadership
      on lean projects. We are using the approach of teaching the
      reflective practitioner (Donald Schon). This is the approach used
      in architectural schools.
      > We are working in three areas simultaneously:
      > Subject matter expertise
      > Leadership
      > Coaching
      >
      > Participants are involved in leading projects while they are in
      the program. They get coaching from another participant. They
      provide coaching to a participant. They also participate in a study-
      action team for reading texts.
      >
      > We meet for two days every fourth week. Greg and I deliver short
      lectures. We wrote a handful of primers. And the participants
      prepare their own lectures and cases. 'Graduation' entails getting
      on a path to mastery and presenting a 4 page paper on a relevant
      topic.
      >
      > We have people from construction, defense contracting,
      architecture, and Headstart.
      >
      > If you continue down the path of certified scrummaster I urge you
      to read Schon's books on the reflective practitioner. We don't know
      of another successful way to teach leadership.
      >
      > Hal
      >
      > Ron Jeffries <ronjeffries@a...> wrote:On Saturday, March 1, 2003,
      at 4:31:18 PM, Ken Schwaber <ken.schwaber@v...> wrote:
      >
      > > I had a long conversation with Martin Fowler about this and he
      > > suggested that we launch the idea of the "Certified
      ScrumMaster."
      > > This is someone who really knows Scrum, getting it both
      emotionally
      > > and intellectually, through reading, thinking and - most
      important -
      > > experience. When we hear of a bad implementation, we can
      ask, "did
      > > they use a Certified ScrumMaster?" Or, when someone wants to get
      > > going, we can recommend a Certified ScrumMaster to them.
      >
      > > I'm considering implementing such a program to do what I can
      about
      > > ensuring the consistency and quality of Scrum. I'm early in
      thinking
      > > about this and want to solicit your comments and conversation
      > > regarding whether to do this (I'm pretty set on it at this
      point, but
      > > could be swayed) and how to do it (suggestions are welcome).
      >
      > Very thought-provoking, Ken. I cross-posted it to the xp
      leadership group.
      >
      > Ron Jeffries
      > www.XProgramming.com
      > Talent determines how fast you get good, not how good you get. --
      Richard Gabriel
      >
      > [input] Subscribe to Reforming Project Management
      > Enter your email address:
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    • Mike Beedle
      Ron: Sorry for the pun intended, the proper name is burndown chart as Mike stated, not burnout chart , but that all depends how you feel as you come down
      Message 113 of 113 , Mar 10, 2003
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        Ron:

        Sorry for the pun intended, the proper name is
        "burndown chart" as Mike stated, not "burnout chart",
        but that all depends how you feel as you come down
        from the "mountain of hours and features" ;-)

        - Mike

        --- Mike Cohn <mike@...> wrote:

        ---------------------------------
        Ron--
        I think Mike is referring to a "burndown" rather than
        "burnout" chart.
        Although I'd like to try graphing how burnt out I feel
        at the end of each
        day.
        An example burndown chart is
        http://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/scrum/sprintbacklog.html.
        Scroll down a
        bit and you'll see it bordered in the green.

        -Mike

        -----Original Message-----
        From: Ron Jeffries [mailto:ronjeffries@...]
        Sent: Monday, March 10, 2003 3:10 PM
        To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: Design (was) RE: [scrumdevelopment]
        Certified ScrumMaster

        On Monday, March 10, 2003, at 5:03:18 PM, Mike Beedle
        wrote:

        > - Ensuring that a burnout chart is produced every
        > day -- don't fly blind it can be dangerous to your
        > project's health.

        What's a burnout chart?

        Ron Jeffries
        www.XProgramming.com
        How do I sell my executive team on doing this stuff?
        -- Questioner
        Don't. Just do it. They don't know what you're doing
        anyway. -- Jim
        Highsmith


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