It's time for the Scrum Alliance to stop using the C word, "Certified". It is holding us all back by dividing and diluting our impact on the world of work.

The Market Probably Isn't All That Confused

Elsewhere I’ve written about the good aspects to the Scrum Alliance’s Certifications. In summary, they serve to attract people to ideas of value. I believe that I have ideas of value to share, and I choose to ride on those good aspects in order to share them – despite the bad aspects of the C word.

While I share the concern that people may be misled by the word, I’m not terribly worried about it. If people are really so naive as to think that a few days of training results in an all-powerful “certification”, then all my powers of writing and speech will not help: these people are just not paying attention.

But the Agile Movement is Weakened by the C Word

I’m more concerned about the many valued members of the Agile community who, not sharing my Zen calm about the potential for confusion, are angry about the Scrum Alliance and its use of the C word. These people, many of them my friends, are doing what they feel is right, but it comes at a high cost to us all.

Our beliefs and values all center around the great benefits that an Agile approach can provide. (Especially an XP approach, but just now I’m here to bring people together, not divide them. So pretend I didn’t say that.) We all share the great joy that comes from having a project go well, the great joy that comes from writing valuable software of high quality. We all value the human impact of working this way. In a word, we find joy in doing things in the Agile fashion.

The C word, “certified” divides us. I also suspect that the success of Scrum in gathering mind share makes some people jealous, also dividing us – especially when we can tell ourselves that their success is based on “Lies, damned Lies. That’s why they have such good statistics”.

Well, it’s not based on Lies. It is based on teaching courses that hit people pretty close to the limits of what they can take in. It is based on the formation of an “alliance” that has worked to spread the word. It is based on building up a core of independent teachers and coaches who are pretty damn good. <p style="padding-left: 36px;">In passing, let me just say that the list of “Certified” Scrum Coaches and Trainers includes some of the best people I’ve ever worked with, many of whom I’ve known since before all this “Agile” stuff started. These people are good, make no mistake about it.</p> In my opinion, the division in the Agile community is a problem. It takes energy that could be better spent helping people, and it by dividing our forces we are weakening our attack on the real enemy, the forces of crappy software. So I wish that the people who bash Scrum, and the C word, would get over it.

It is Time for a Change

However, that’s not why I’m writing this. I’m writing this as a challenge to the Scrum Alliance (and as well).

I’m challenging you people to drop the word “certified” from your offering. Figure out a revenue model based on delivering real value to people, not on extracting $50 for a PDF certificate, not on extracting many more dollars for a REP licence, not on extracting way more than that to be a “Certified” trainer.

Base the value of the Scrum Alliance – and you, too, Ken – on making real people more successful and happier.

Yes, I know your hearts are good and the damage is low among the world at large. The damage from the C word is high, however, in the community that matters, the community of people who do this work.

It’s time to do the right thing. Stop using the C word.