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Our Scrum Master Holds the Certification but Is Not Competent

I have been consulting a big MNC who has started their Scaled Agile adoption journey. This company is trying for Scrum from the past 9-10 months and struggling with that too.

They introduced me to one of the choice Programs in their organization where they asked for help on improving their Scrum process. The Program was practicing Scrum for six months, but they were not close to the Scrum basics, and when asked, they directed me to the Scrum Master of the team. I had a few conversations with the Professional Scrum Master and figured out that he lacked the basic agile and Scrum knowledge. I then raised this with the Program lead to getting their Scrum Master trained, and they then mentioned to me that “Our Scrum Master is PSM certified.”

Being a Professional Scrum Trainer, it was difficult for me to digest that the Scrum Master holding the PSM credentials was unaware that base of Scrum is an Empirical process and Transparency, inspection and adaption is vital for that.

I was surprised and at the same time, a little suspicious about how this boy was able to pass such a challenging assessment. I then exchanged a few words with the Scrum Master to understand his experience during the Professional Scrum Master training, and I got to know that he never attended any formal PSM training. He referred to some online tutorials and then bought some PSM-I sample assessments.

I then had a word with my client to understand from them that what’s it their hiring process? They then replied that as they didn’t have employees with the agile knowledge, so the hiring of Scrum Master was outsourced to another vendor with the condition that they need Scrum Master with certification.

I then had a word with the client to make them understand that it’s not the certification that you target and show low confidence towards it, but it’s how a candidate gains those certifications.

The primary way to check the authenticity of the knowledge is by having a conversation with the candidates (the right knowledgeable person interview the candidate).

The secondary way to check the same is https://www.scrum.org/certification-list where you can search the candidate credentials and check if the candidate had gone with the formal training through the Professional Scrum Trainer at scrum.org

The profiles of the candidates with no formal training will look like.

candidates with no formal training

Where in the profiles of the candidates with formal training will look like.

candidates with formal training

But use this as a secondary measure of authenticity only, the reason being there are knowledgeable people, and they gained these certifications with real experience and not attending any formal pieces of training.

Sometime you may come across people who participated in the training but still lack the experience.

I had started to notice that the client started to take the second approach for shortlisting their candidates. When I asked the reason behind their decision, then they told me that they don’t want to risk their time in the recruitment process, and this approach is growing in southeast Asian countries.

Because of few people who run for gaining only a certificate for the sake of completing their said KPIs and job change are hitting bad on candidates who genuinely carry experience and knowledge.

If you have attended the formal training with a PST, your profile is not listing that, please go through this video, help to get this done.

Author's Bio

A Professional Scrum trainer (PST) from Scrum.org, SAFe® Program Consultant (SPC 4.5) and experienced Spotify consultant with over 14 years of rich experience in building people, Sumeet’s mission drives him to build people and help them learn who they are and how they want to show up in the Agile world.

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