Expiring CSP (Certified Scrum Practitioner)…Do I Care?

Scrum Rocks

I love Scrum.  It’s freakin’ awesome. It is simple and yet wonderfully challenging. When implementing for the first time, impediments (of which most have always been there) smack you in the face, and you are forced to make a decision…knock them down or ignore them.  Sadly, the path of least resistance is to ignore, so that is what tends to happen.

Scrum makes you focus on empowerment and value.  Scrum also forces “the business” to be a part of the process with the Product Owner.  Scrum forces you to deliver potentially shippable code at regular intervals.

One of my favorite things is the “chicken” and “pig” thing.  The pigs are the ones whose neck is on the line to deliver value, i.e. the Scrum Team.  The chickens are the ones whose neck is NOT on the line.  You know those folks…the ones who distract the team from focusing on the goals at hand.  I’ve had lots of those back in the day…and they sucked.  With Scrum, we can draw a line in the sand.  We can identify those who have skin in the game, and those who don’t.  Now, we shouldn’t just flip the bird (no pun intended) to the chickens…they may very well have very good input and feedback.  However, this information must be funneled through the Product Owner, not directly to the team.  Of course we could have made this delineation with our traditional methods, but the methods never clearly called out this distinction so people had to rely on their common sense, which meant that it never happened.

Scrum, But…

I am so sick of hearing this. People continuously ask themselves “Are we doing Scrum or not?”. That’s not the right question! The question should be “Are we improving in our ability to deliver value to the customer or not?”.

Scrum is empirical. It is meant to change. What are the non-negotiables? Ummm…I’m not really sure. Some people say the daily scrum. However, I’ve seen times when the team is all in the same room and highly functional, and the daily scrum is completely unnecessary since communication is organic.

What about the retrospective at the end of every sprint? Ummm…I’m not really sure. If you have 2-week sprints, wow, do they get stale. What about at the end of every other sprint? Shouldn’t the team decide? Are we “doing Scrum” if we decide to do them every other sprint? Well, I guess it depends on who you talk to.

What about the burndown chart? It’s in the Scrum Guide, right? It doesn’t say that it’s required, but it doesn’t say it’s not. Okay, so we don’t have a burndown, but we meet our sprint goal, and have potentially shippable product at the end of the sprint…so are we “doing Scrum”? I guess it depends on who you talk to.

Uh-oh, what if we have more than one Product Owner? Well, I’ve seen it work for some teams very well. But, Scrum says you have only one. Are we “doing Scrum”? I guess it depends on who you talk to.

My point is this, Scrum is a light framework that supports the agile (and lean) principles. If you know what you’re doing, go ahead and do what is right for you team…making sure to not lose sight of continuously improving, and delivering high quality value to the customer. Don’t worry if “your doing Scrum or not”.

Now, if you are new to Scrum, or agile in general (i.e. don’t know what you are doing), PROCEED WITH CAUTION! Spend LOTS of time digesting information, reading blogs, books, etc. before you start. I’ve seen many folks attempt to adhere to a book after a quick skim and fail spectacularly when trying to implement Scrum. You should seriously consider getting someone in to help you.

To Renew my CSP, or Not to Renew? That is the Question!!

I have a confession to make. The only reason I got my CSP was purely a PR move. I had been practicing “real life” Scrum for some time. However, for some reason corporate America cares about certifications. I’m starting to believe that certifications, ALL certifications, are purely marketing tools, and nothing else. Why is it that all of the absolute worst project managers that I have ever worked with had a PMP certification? Or, why is it that some of the absolute worst system admins that I’ve met had a MCSE certification. Even some of the worst Java programmers I have met had a Sun Certified Java Programmer certification. Hrmmm…I think I’m starting to see a trend. Typically, at least in my small part of the world, the truly talented folks rarely have any certifications.

Okay, so let’s get real. It’s the game you have to play. Right now, I’m not in a place where I have to play these kinds of games. I’m employed full time in a great company, so I don’t have to worry so much about “PR” moves such as certifications.

Okay, so I think I’ve answered my question. No, I don’t care about the CSP right now. So no, I’m not going to renew my CSP.


About Andre Simones
I am a founding partner of One80 Services that specializes in agile training, small business and startup guidance, and custom development. My goal is plain and simple. To see others succeed. I want to teach you how stop doing the things that aren't working and give you tools that will empower you to succeed on your own.

5 Responses to Expiring CSP (Certified Scrum Practitioner)…Do I Care?

  1. Bob Hartman says:

    I too had to make some tough decisions about whether to renew certain certifications or go for others. I’ve written about it at http://bit.ly/9p0Bo6 and http://bit.ly/cz5IMJ.

    One thing you may not realize is the existence of the Certified Scrum Coach level of certification. One goal of the Scrum Alliance is to greatly increase the number of CSCs in the next year. It sounds like you might be a great candidate.

    I cringe a little bit when I hear people not renewing Scrum certifications. This trend reflects badly on Scrum as a whole. Your certification is not just for you, but the dollars you pay go toward helping educate the world about Scrum which hopefully will lead to more organizations using Scrum and needing people knowledgeable about Scrum.

    • leanagileguy says:

      Thanks for you comment Bob! I didn’t think about not renewing reflecting badly on Scrum itself. It must be that “only child” syndrome my wife keeps telling me I have 🙂

      You make a good point…the money I pay for my certification goes towards the furthering the adoption of Scrum. In my case, I think I’d rather just pay the money to “help the cause”, and not worry about jumping through the hoops for the certification. I’d be more than happy to donate.

      I am familiar with the CSC. When I was a consultant, I was seriously considering “moving up” the Scrum certification ladder. When I was considering the CSC vs. the CST, it was almost a no brainer. If I remember right, the CSC required a considerable amount of effort. And, the CSC was little known, and I believe is still little known. In addition, I believed that with a little more effort, I could have attained the CST, then I could train AND coach! I did want to go out on my own, after all 🙂

      Of course, life took a different twist, and I left the consulting world and am working full time. So, certifications aren’t “as” important to me as they once were.

      I am passionate about Scrum. I would never do anything to hurt the Scrum community. But I’m also passionate about doing more than Scrum, or adjusting Scrum, if it is valuable and well thought through.

      • Bob Hartman says:

        The SA has recently started looking at all certifications and is revamping the process for some. CST is going to get a big overhaul. CSC won’t change, but it will be promoted much more heavily. I think you will see that certification become one which many will aspire to. Some prefer coaching, some prefer training and some like both. We’ll see where it leads.

        I’m glad I was able to open your eyes about the SA and how your decision can affect the worldwide community. Pay it forward someday. I just did 🙂

  2. Arjen Smedes says:

    Nice blog! Like your “Scrum,but” part especially. Agreed. Just twittered this article around the world again.

    • leanagileguy says:

      Thank you! Sorry for the late response. I’ve admittedly been seriously lazy regarding this blog. I think you’ve kicked my butt back in gear. I’ve been working with big data stuff, and have experienced some interesting … “challenges” that I’d love to get out there.

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