Idiots gotta idiot: Badmouthing the ScrumAlliance.

Never meet your heroes. They disappoint. Feet of clay, often worn proudly.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feet_of_clay

I regret anyone who would hold me in high esteem, a man who cannot limit himself when it comes to opinions or food. My oldest friends may admit that I am withering soul on occasion. And that occasion comes frequently.

But if one is to be the type that withers. One that continuously delivers snark, then I feel one has to have some base rules to what they snark on. The snark must be clever. An angle unspotted by others, The snark must be logical. It must be derivable by more than just the snarker when heard, And the snark should contain a dash of truth. If one is a politician, you want a lot of truth, if one is a comedian, then perhaps a bit less.

Sometimes people snark in a way that is just cruel, rude and false. I don’t like this. I would like to say it’s because my White Knight nature – dashing to the rescue, or perhaps because of my English deeply embedded sense of manners.

But likely it is because I am a developer at heart and I HATE errors in logic.

I have come across a big piece of Snarkware, and it does not compile.

https://www.scrumsalliance.org

A simple website of a few pages, badmouthing the ScrumAlliance (https://www.scrumalliance.org) the largest and most successful Agile non-profit certification organisation till now.

Now badmouthing bad agile is not new. I am a huge fan of some work done by an old colleague of mine Kerry Buckley, based off of some snarky content produced by one of the authors of the Agile Manifesto, Ron Jeffries.

(https://www.halfarsedagilemanifesto.org)

The Half Arsed Agile Manifesto (or HAAM for short) is a good piece of parody, mocking those large companies that abuse the principles and practices of Agility. It rings true for many of us, who have seen similar patterns in our own old businesses.

So what differs the scrumsalliance.org from this? The HAAM is mocking misuse of agile ideas. The Scrumsalliance is attacking a particular group of people.

The scrumsalliance is attacking the very morals and integrity of thousands of people. Claiming that the SA is a commerical entity without morals:

“Your business has been ignoring the challenges of making significant improvements for years. Maybe even decades. Now your bosses have learned about the word Agile and you need to act…NOW. We can help. The fastest way to seem Agile without the risk of improvement is the Scrums Alliance certification ladder. Legitimize your people.”

Claiming that it is all about money generation:

You want to keep the same training budget next year right? We can help you spend, and then spend some more. Our certificates have certificates!”

BTW the ScrumAlliance is a non-profit.

Claiming that what is offered by this alliance is mere theatre with no real change:

“Your board members expect a lot. A now you can claim amazing achievement by changing job titles and renaming meetings. Shit that’s impressive!”

And for me, two ideas that show a bigger problem. A lack of understanding of Scrum and Agile.

I am happy to remove this when the real author comes forward….

Increase Group Think: My logic alarm goes off with this statement. Does the author think education is bad or wrong? Do they wish their colleagues to not learn? Are they worried about learning shared amongst all? Or are they claiming that the ScrumAlliance offers some form of unchanging and inflexible content that leads to unchanging or inflexible mindsets in their education packages?

The ScrumAlliance actually does something that very few other Agile certification bodies do. It does not prescribe* content. Slides, images, verbage. No. The SA actually sets Learning Objectives:

“Upon successful validation of the CSM Learning Objectives, the learner will be able to demonstrate at least three techniques for facilitating group decision making.”

Thus the trainer or coach can adopt whatever approach or technique they feel is proper to achieve that result. The ScrumAlliance acts as the quality check to ensure that the trainer has material and the skill to do that.

So already we have a challenge to this “group think” idea – Methods and approaches will vary.

But perhaps the discovery at the end will be the same, Cloned certificates!

No, because the LO model does not even say what the attendee should learn. It lists what they should be capable of. And that varies trainer to trainer. Coach to coach. The exact opposite of this point.

These Learning Objectives are built by teams of expert volunteers from across the Agile community to ensure we can educate people into NOT building Agile theatre but in fact real change.

There are Agile certification models that enforce content, slideware, verbage. But that is not the ScrumAlliance. Has the creator of this website confused their Agile organisations? There are businesses that like to maximise profit (like mine, http://www.agilebear.com) but if no one gets value from the learning, the budget disappears – and so does the profit. Anyone with any business sense knows that satisfying the customer and the consumer is essential to have return business. Customers are people and people are not stupid, unlike how they are portrayed by this parody. And secondly, AgileBear is not the ScrumAlliance. Has the creator of this website confused the ScrumAlliance with other private training businesses? Would the ScrumAlliance have reached such a large membership by making their consumers unhappy?

That’s not Scrum! What do you think the point of this image is? I am assuming it is meant in a projarative way. That somehow the victim is being oppressed by someone over a framework.

This does exist as a problem in the industry. But perhaps not in the way this author thinks. Forcing Scrum onto teams is an anti-pattern. Forcing anything onto anyone is an anti-pattern. My kids will not eat certain vegetables, no matter how much we push. This is why Scrum contains very specifically a job to help the team do Scrum well. The ScrumMaster. A role who serves the team. A person who coaches and facilitates. Not a policeman, as people will just hide their crimes. But a priestly figure to support and hear the problems. “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” This is what the ScrumAlliance advocates because this is what Scrum advocates.

So what’s going wrong? Is some business not doing that? Then they are breaking the rules of Scrum when doing so. Has the creator of this website confused the game with the players? If you cheat at monopoly, there is not much Hasbro can do about that, beyond publish warnings:

“Changing the core design or ideas of Scrum, leaving out elements, or not following the rules of Scrum, covers up problems and limits the benefits of Scrum, potentially even rendering it useless.”

Scrum Guide 2020. Authors Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland.

Or is this complaining about Scrum being inflexible? Being too controlling and limited?

“The Scrum framework, as outlined herein, is immutable. While implementing only parts of Scrum is possible, the result is not Scrum. Scrum exists only in its entirety and functions well as a container for other techniques, methodologies, and practices.”

There is a logical flaw here. If Scrum is being imposed then they are breaking the rules of Scrum. The immutable part has much weight as the rest that is being ignored. If the immutable part is being followed, then Scrum won’t be imposed or enforced. Because we are doing Scrum-as-a-whole-thing. Scrum is not just the Framework. It is the framework, values AND Accountabilities/roles/jobs.

So either the author has gotten themselves in a logical traffic jam – Or they don’t understand what Scrum is. Has the creator of this website confused their Scrum? Or confused the abuser with the abused?

Or do they mean something as trite as HOW things are done? Scrum as implemented in a team has great contextual variety. Scrum itself has a very light rulebook. Most of what people fill their product development is with things that are not Scrum…

Personal Attacks.

As many will know, I have some philisophical differences with Jeff Sutherland. Both from a Scrum and a private business point of view. I disagree with some of his outside of Scrum personal beliefs. But that does not mean one can mock any person by sticking their head onto some clipart to abuse them personally. It is disgusting, and anyone who thought it was “good fun” or “that’s fine work” should be ashamed of themselves.

“The best part about defining an intentionally incomplete framework with an official guide is that it’s OFFICIAL! So we can say you aren’t doing Scrums if it not part of the guide. But…and this is where it gets totally AWESOME…it’s intentionally incomplete! So you HAVE to do stuff that’s NOT in it to even have a chance of making it work!”

Parody quote

Methinks someone doesn’t get Agile at all. The entire point of the entire Agile movement was that there is no one ideal way of producing software. That one must be empowered to empirically inspect and adapt, evolving both the product and the processes and practices associated with it. They also do not understand Scrum: Scrum, like Kanban, regards itself as an improvement process a method to inspect and adapt your methods. Not the method itself.

This incompleteness, is giving people space to fill it with content that is appropriate for their needs. The reason why Scrum is regarded as needing to be rigious is that it is a MVP of product development. You may need more, but you will struggle to get away with less. You need the trellis to support the plant. The flexibility each team has is how much detail and discipline they need around the handful of patterns that make up Scrum. How wide and strong you make the trellis is a team decision.

Again, the author seems to be running into a contradiction. If they are saying Scrum does not provide the answers needed, unlike an alternative – Well the alternative can only be Extreme Programming. The only true Agile software devleopment methodology.

However, the first line is complaining about being made to do things in Scrum they do not want. The problem here is XP would have exactly the same issue. It contains all the Scrum patterns and more. So are they arguing for Kanban? That would fail the first “we want answers” test. What is left? Devops? It’s not a comparable thing to Scrum. It’s more a philosophy that you achieve with methods like Scrum or Kanban or XP.

So the author is again caught in a bit of a trap here of their own devising.

The world famous Nigel Scale

All/nearly all ScrumAlliance trainers have been exposed to my notorious Nigel Scale ( Here is an out of date article on it from over a DECADE AGO – https://nigelbaker.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/the-nigel-scale/)

Basically, some practioners confuse core fundamental practice with contextual good practices maybe used. Scrum is only made up of those core patterns.

“Years of Scrums Alliance research has shown that attempting to measure success based on actual business value or customer outcomes is…well…really hard. Therefore it has been deemed best practice to make up an indirect measure of myopic productivity using a fictitious unit. This way you can control what success is and how much you get!”

The ScrumAlliance has not done that research. That’s a lie. The ScrumAlliance has not made up an “indirect measure of myopic productivity using a fictitious unit.” or even deemed it best practice. That is Story Points and was invented by the first Extreme Programming team in Chrysler. That is a lie.

Scrum does not contain the concept of Story Points, It is not part of Scrum.

Whether it is a good practice (NS2) or bad practice (NS3) is still up for debate. It has shifted from being super popular over the years, and I am not here to discuss it (though we can because like earlier – The problem with it, is people abusing the name and not using it as meant) The fact is this line is just untrue. A lie upon a lie upon a lie upon a subject of debate. Abusing points is a problem in enterprises. Has the creator of this website confused their XP with their Scrum? Confused the non-profit, community-led ScrumAlliance with private businesses like Scrum Inc that do use points in controversial ways? Or confused the law breakers with the laws?

“When no one can align on value, it’s better to just be really really really busy. Like, no less than 387% utilized. Seriously, do you want to get laid off or something? Plus, if you’re triple booked almost every hour of the day people will start thinking you’re super important. Promotion baby! Extra points for expecting everyone else to do the same, working after dinner, and responding to emails while on vacation.”

Being busy over output or outcomes.

This has nothing to do with the ScrumAlliance. Nothing. The Alliance has never done anything remotely like this, or recommended anything like this. The alliance has published articles on Sustainable Pace, and it is a part of the core LO’s of Scrum. So no trainer can be either.

The SA supports Scrum which has deliberate “BusyBreakers” in built to stop people pushing work into teams (Sprint, ScrumMaster) or pushing work into Sprints (Sprint Planning) and emsuring teams only pull what they can accomodate as a team (Sprint planning).

Scrums Is Like Training Wheels

“Are you seriously trying to kill a CHILD?!? You MONSTER!!! Don’t you know that code craft, devops, and kanban are WAYYYY too complicated for the ickle wickle bebies on your team? Their tiny team-member brains will literally EXPLODE! Don’t go confusing them. Be safe, start with Scrums.”

Scrum is not stabilisers. Scrum does not stop you failing. It is not training wheels. Scrum makes failing cheap and safe. Scrum is actually a balance bike. Codecraft, kanban, devops all great ideas – but kanban is a bit more like putting stabilizers on your bike you are already riding – “start where you are now” – and then changing the frame in transit. Codecraft and devops are like road laws and cycling proficiency. Same world but different things. Comparing these things like-to-like is strange. The baby language was an interesting choice. Exaggeration for comic effect normally works. Normally.

Certificates!

And then we finish with a page of made up Agile certificates that are thin carbon copy parodies of the ScrumAlliance’s three entry-level certifications. The humour here seems to be “pay money” and “sit through two days” – Though he does mention the examination needed. This is where the author hits home. The three certificates seem to be entry level. Barely enough content to align with a term at University (16+hrs each). How can you claim they’ve reached the top of the education ladder????!?

Of course reader, you can sniff my sarcasm. (Please don’t tell the wife). These are three of at least sixteen levels of assessment and resultant qualification one can achieve with the ScrumAlliance. But the author did not want you to know that. (Or perhaps they didn’t know themselves.)

To achieve the higher levels requires a little money, but far more importantly, a lot of effort and time documenting your learning, your journey, and alll the associated skills, people and organisations you have helped.

I passed my GCSE’s at 16. I was not a professional. But my learning wasn’t over.

I passed my A Level’s at 18. I was not a professional. But my learning wasn’t over.

I read for my Computer Science degree at 21. I was not a professional. But my learning wasn’t over.

I have done dozens of courses, taught hundreds, worked in companies all over the world on the coolest (and most boring) things you could imagine. I’ve coached everyone everywhere. I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. I am a professional. But my learning isn’t over.

There maybe organiations that only deal with entry level learning. But the ScrumAlliance is not them. There maybe businesses only focussed on the quick buck, but the ScrumAlliance is not them. There maybe authoritarian organisations forcing it’s members down one route, in only one way. But the ScrumAlliance is not one of them.

The ScrumAlliance is a bit shit sometimes. They are slow to react to members needs. They still don’t have a strongly endorsed scaling approach. The website has been a bit rubbish for years. As a member-led organisation, it can sometimes feel like committees and committees. Not enough members volunteer.

But none of that was mentioned. The author shot their mouth off, revealing their own incompetence and ignorance and missing the possible targets it could be aiming at. Such as Scrum Inc mixing certification programmes and a private business whilst also pushing Story Points as a measure of success. Or Scrum.org and Scaled Agile requiring slidware and content and allegedly even anecdotes.

If you want successful certification snark – Then look to this video:

The abusers will keep abusing and we must expose and ridicule them. The ScrumAlliance is not one of them. And neither is Scrum.

This parody seems to constantly confuse itself with self-contradicting complaints. Scrum is too strict. Scrum is too soft. Scrum is too detailed. Scrum is not detailed enough. Scrum is the ScrumAlliance which is also Scrum Inc and every private training company out there. Oh and throw the Scrum Guide in there as well. A positively pot-pourri of bitchiness.

So back to my rules on snark. Clever + logical + true (from a certain point of view)

The parody site fails all three tests. And has a look and feel that maybe putting itself a little close to the legal world… For the ScrumAlliance does have budget for lawyers, and it does use them.

Nigel2021

EDIT: September 13th! Well, this post upset some people. Their counter argument was made and the response was I am a virgin and I cannot spell. Strong argument. 🙂

*In terms of spelling, I have popped back and corrected a few. (This was thrown together in about ten minutes.) I notice a particular snide dig at me accidentally using proscribe when I meant prescribe. Thinking about this, I may have been (accidentally) correct first time. I don’t think the ScrumAlliance proscribes material either. It assesses the Trainer and their Agile and Scrum Knowledge, and their experience – And lets them make the choice of material and method (within the LO guidelines) – So I’d like to thank the impolite author, through whose attempt to avoid refuting anything and instead making ad hominem attacks, has opened my eyes to another advantage of the ScrumAlliance.

Thanks! 🙂

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