Saturday, September 26, 2009

Becoming a Certified Scrum Practioner

Someone recently asked me what does it take to become a CSP. So I looked up the CSP requirements on the Scrum Alliance web page, to double check the requirements.

The CSP is the first rating in the Scrum Alliance structure that actually means something. A CSM has attended a class from a Certified Scrum Trainer (and starting October 1, will have passed a multiple choice test on Scrum). So a CSM is a trained apprentice.

A CSP is someone who actually has experience with Scrum. To become a CSP, you must provide evidence of at least one year of Scrum practice and be a member in good standing of the Scrum Alliance as a CSM or CSPO. The latter requirement means you must have taken a CSM or CSPO course from a Certified Scrum Trainer. You must have been doing Scrum for at least a year. You no longer have to wait 12 months after taking the CSM course - which is a sensible change. If you're the type who will read a book and then do Scrum, you probably have the right stuff to become a Practitioner, with or without the CSM Course.

Unlike other certifications, the CSP is not a multiple choice test which is graded to some arbitrary standard. It is a collection of 15 essay questions about how you have used Scrum in a real project, 5 questions about how Scrum works, and one question about how you have worked with the Scrum Community. It is reviewed by other Scrum Practitioners (If someone can give me better information about the process, please let me know).

So the CSP is a peer reviewed certification of people who have actually been doing Scrum. It means, you're now a journeyman ScrumMaster.

I became a CSP in August 2008. As I write this, there are some 60'000 CSM's and about 800 CSP's (and only 20 Certified Scrum Coaches, CSCs, the master level of certification).

The CSP hasn't really captured the attention of the marketplace, which is unfortunate, because these are the people who really know and do Scrum. I think the CSP is a way of demonstrating competence in and commitment to Scrum and should be recognized by the market.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Scrum Breakfast in Zürich: An application in 3 days?

Develop an application from start to finish in just three days? No way! ... Is there? Together with Adhoco, a start up in Home-Automation-Systems, Jean-Pierre König and a team of 6 took on the challenge of creating an application from start start to finish in just 3 days. And this included interviewing the man on the street in the Zürich train station!

Johnny will explain how Rapid Development works, how the team and the customer set out to develop this application is such a short time. What can you accomplish? What not? How do you put together a working application in three days?

JPK is a software engineer and agile evangelist at namics, as well as the author of inside-scrum, perhaps the leading German language Scrum blog.

The details:
Coffee and Registration  8.00-8.35, presentation and discussion 8.35-9.50. More Coffee and networking until 10.50.

Pubic Transportation to Zürich Altstetten (Nord). Limited on street parking (4 or 6 hours, in any case, long enough) is available further out of town on the Vulkanstrasse. Come early if you come by car.

Certified Scrum Product Owner in December

The Practical Product Owner course for December 10 & 11 has been "upgraded" to a Certified Scrum Product Owner course. What's the difference (besides the piece of paper you get at the end of the course?)

I will be co-training with Peter Beck, a German certified Scrum trainer who is based in Vienna. What I really like about co-trainings is the two points of view: Two trainers with two perspectives who some times agree and sometimes argue but in any case illuminate the problem from all sides. Who benefits? You - you profit from the experience of two trainers.

You can now register for all public courses between now and the end of the year online.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ken Schwaber Steps Down as Chairman of the Scrum Alliance

Certification testing for CSM starting in October after all-

There have been a few guarded comments on twitter for a day or two, but now I found an article on Xing: Ken Schwaber has stepped down as President and Chairman of the Board of the Scrum Alliance, effective Tuesday, September 15, 2009. CEO Jim Cundiff also stepped down effective Tuesday. Tom Mellor will take over Ken's role until the end of his term.

Furthermore, the Alliance has reconsidered its position on the CSM test. Apparently the test will be introduced on October 1 after all.

As I write this, the Scrum alliance news page is empty nor has there been no discussion on the scrumdevelopment newsgroup, so it's hard to say if this is the full story, or if other developments are still pending.

Personally, I think Ken Schwaber, Scrum, and the CSM program have been instrumental in the widespread acceptance of agile practices and values beyond the circle of XP-early adopters. I hope the Alliance gets over its turbulent times quickly and re-focuses on its mission of 'Changing the World of Work'.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What's your frozen coke bottle?

A recurring problem of Agile projects is management commitment. Today I gave a talk on getting the change process started. Based on a combination of my own experiences and the patterns documented in Rising and Mann's Fearless Change, I talked about how to get an idea launched and gain initial acceptance to move forward. But even after a successful start, getting and keeping management on board has always been a difficult problem.

A frozen coke bottle can be a powerful symbol of the need for change.
Photo (c) Jonathan Lansey, used with kind permission.

Today I encountered another book about making change happen: Our Iceberg is Melting, by John Kotter. (And thanks to Remo Schmid for lending me the book!) John tells a fable about a young penguin named Fred. Fred is a bit of a loner, but lives with his herd on an iceberg on the coast of Antarctica. Through careful observation, Fred a) notices that the iceberg is melting, and b) because of the way that it is melting, he becomes convinced that terrible things will happen next winter and the herd must act to prevent catastrophe.

According to Fred, the iceberg is melting from the middle, leaving an air pocket, which fills with water. When that water freezes, it will expand, causing the destruction of the iceberg with terrible consequences for the penguin population living there.

Of course most penguins don't believe Fred, and he struggles for acceptance of his ideas. (Several important steps occur here which I will gloss over). Finally, Fred and his Executive Sponsor stage an experiment. By chance, they have found a glass coke bottle, which they fill with water and leave in the ice overnight. If Fred's theory is correct, then as the water turns to ice, it will expand and destroy the coke bottle. Exactly this happens, and the exploded coke bottle becomes a powerful symbol for convincing everyone from the board on down of the urgency of the problem and the need to do something about it.

(At this point, many more important steps take place as the birds eventually adjust to reality and find a way to thrive and prosper in the changed world.)

Getting the attention of top management. Creating a sense of urgency. Seems like the missing link. What's your Coke Bottle? How will you get management's attention and the attention of your co-workers?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Scrum Books to Win Friends and Influence people

One way to help make Scrum and Agile less frightening to non-agilists in the company is to simply make information available. An easy, non-threatening way to do this is to set up a library and put it in an obvious place. What books to put in the library? Here's a list I recently gave to a customer:
  • Agile Project Management with Scrum Ken Schwaber. Start here.
  • The Art of Agile Development Jim Shore. OK, if you're a developer, you might prefer to start here.
  • Scrum and XP from the Trenches Henrik Kniberg. This is what it's really about.
  • Agile Estimating and Planning von Mike Cohn. Proof that estimating & planning are not black magic.
  • User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development Mike Cohn. After Ken's book & Mike's books I felt I was ready to conceive, plan and deliver software projects effectively.
  • Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit for Software Development Managers Mary Poppendieck. A bridge for managers between their MBA studies and real agility.
  • Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to Cash Mary Poppendieck. Tools for putting your company on a diet.
  • The Enterprise and Scrum Ken Schwaber. An approach for Scaling Scrum.
  • FIT for Developing Software: Framework for Integrated Tests Rick Mugridge und Ward Cunningham. Tests are the bleeding edge between customer and developers. How to know that you are getting what you want and that it stays what you want.
  • Agile Software Development in the Large: Diving Into the Deep Jutta Eckstein. One of the first books on scaling agility. (Oddly, although the author is German, I found the English more readable. Maybe it's because I'm Swiss.)
  • Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great Esther Derby. The key to continuous improvement is the retrospective. The key to good retrospectives is keeping them fresh and interesting. Many good approaches for many different circumstances.
  • Fearless Change: Patterns for Introducing New Ideas Linda Rising. Changing the organization is the hardest part of agile.
  • The Software Project Managers Bridge to Agility Sliger & Broderwick. If your manager is a PMP, this book will help her or him understand that words "agile" and "project management" can be applied to the same project successfully.
I am generally skeptical of translated books (actually, I kind of embarrassed myself recently by recommending some well known titles, only to discover that their German translations were not great), but there are now a growing number of original German works which offer excellent places to start for native German speakers:
  • Scrum mit User Stories, Ralf Wirdemann - what you need to get started doing Scrum.
  • Scrum - Agiles Projektmanagement erfolgreich einsetzen Roman Pichler - a condensed version of Ken Schwaber's "APM with Scrum" and Mike Cohn's books. A good management introduction.
Any list is a compromise, and there are many good books that I didn't mention (and I wish I had more time to read them - sigh). So happy reading!

Friday, September 11, 2009

CSM Test Postponed (again)

I couldn't find anything on the Scrum Alliance News Page, but Boris Gloger posted on twitter that the Scrum Alliance has postponed the introduction of the CSM knowledge test. It seems the Alliance wanted to await localized versions before making the test mandatory.

The certification which really shows demonstrated ability is not the CSM, but the peer-reviewed Certified Scrum Practitioner (journeyman level) and Certified Scrum Coach (mastery level). As I write this there are some 800 or 900 CSPs and only 20 or so CSCs.

If you're looking to show your mastery of Scrum, qualify for one of the higher ratings. And strangely enough, there is no required training beyond the CSM course for either of the certifications. It's about doing, not about sitting in courses...

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Peter Rey gave an interesting talk about the challenges of doing Scrum in a environment with significant legal conformance requirements. His notes are an example why anyone giving talks should take the time to read Beyond Bullet Points or Presentation Zen.

You can download his talk Scrum in a MedTech Environment.

'The customer is threatening me with a order'. Well, at namics, the customer made good on his threats and namics Zürich had to convert their big meeting room into office space, leaving no space for the Scrum Breakfast in Zürich.

I would like to say thank you to Jurg Stuker, Thomas König and most especially Peggy Kessler for making 19 Scrum Breakfasts an great event with the perfect location, coffee, gipfeli, fruits and fresh baked goodies.

The next three Scrum Breakfasts (until December) will be held at the SwissICT offices in Altstetten.