By March 31, 2010

Scrum For the Money…

Oh what an ethical dilemma.

I'm about to piss off a lot of people.

But, I am going to tell the truth.

Often a person has to make a choice between standing by their convictions and doing what they believe is right or doing the more profitable thing at the cost of integrity.  I don't like to use this blog as an avenue to bash anyone, but I have held myself to the requirement of being honest.  Honest in the most tactful way that I can.

I am also not always 100% correct.  Sometimes I am plain wrong, but I have to call things as I see them until corrected and shown otherwise.  I am open to being corrected.  That is how to learn.  Learning is more important than being right.

One last disclaimer.  I don't hate Scrum.  I think it is good.  I think it is really good, and if implemented correctly can provide enormous benefits.  I think most of the ideas are sound, even though I do believe it has some major flaws.  I think if 90% of software companies stopped doing their broken process and at least tried to adopt Scrum, the world would be a better place.  But… I also think Scrum is not the end.  It is just the beginning of an eye opening and awakening of problems in developing software.

If I attack Scrum, it is for two reasons.

  1. To push us to build on the principles of Scrum and go beyond it to iteratively find an even better process.
  2. To fight against the blood-thirsty vampire consultants, trainers and organizations preying on the uninformed and making Scrum a commercial enterprise which sacrifices its integrity.

Today I will talk about the latter

Perhaps this isn't a smart move.  Perhaps this will remove opportunities from my path and make people angry with me.  So be it.  If I am wrong, teach me.

What sparked this whole post is the relaunch of  I listened to Pluralcast #12: The Future of Scrum with Ken Schwaber.  I truly listened to this with an open mind and was optimistic about the new programs being launched.  I bought into the story about the Scrum Alliance becoming a money making scheme and selling certifications.  I welcomed the fresh clean break to “free certifications” and altruistic motives.  I thought teaming up with Microsoft to bring in a .NET track, and later a Java track, was a great idea.  Until I visited the website and found the only difference between and is who is taking your money.

But please, don't take my word for it.  Let's look at the pages together.

certified scrum

This is the assessments page, let's click Professional Scrum Master.

Hmm, there is also a Professional ScrumMaster II on the page below.  Let me register and add them both to my cart, so I can take this test and get certified.

WOW!  Umm, what is going on here?  Didn't they just talk about how Scrum Alliance was ripping us off and turning Scrum into a money making venture?

Ok, how about Professional Scrum Developer, that one I am really interested in.

Okay, can't take the test on here the first year.  Have to take a course first.  That sounds pretty reasonable.  Let's check out the prices of the courses.

Umm.  $2000?  Then I can be a Certified Scrum Master?  How is this different than Scrum Alliance?  Okay, what about the Certified Scrum Developer?

Okay,  sorry, I'm not sipping that Kool-Aid anymore.

The courses are even cheaper.  (Although, they are still a rip off IMO)

It's all about the Benjamins

My current assessment of the Scrum consulting world just got worse instead of better.  I really wanted to believe in what I heard on that podcast.  It seemed really good to me.  I even bet the classes will be really good.  I know one of the instructors and he is awesome!

The problem is, I can't trust, and I can't trust, not when they are about making money.  (That little .org domain on the end is kind of ridiculous).  It is pretty clear to me that this is what the whole Scrum movement has become.  When all the dust settles and the consultants have certified every Scrum Master in the world, will software development really be better?

If I am wrong, tell me.  I won't filter the comments here.  Ken, if you want to, address this post.  Do so, you have a right to and I won't filter your response.   Sorry if I am “hurting your guys business”, but my conscious does not allow me to stand by and say nothing.

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."