Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Scrum Alliance vs. vs. Scrum.

I just finished reading the following article: I was going to comment there, and then decided it was really worth its own blog post.

Full disclosure: I am a CSM and a CSPO, and (while not a CST) have co-taught CSM courses in the past. I firmly believe that good education is essential to getting started well with Scrum, and that having some way to identify baseline knowledge and expertise in a field is a boon both to knowledge workers and to potential employers.

I believe that we need a crowd-sourced, community-based Scrum education/certification organization.

Some meaningful alternative to the Scrum Alliance's strategies and methods has been needed for a long time. I had hopes when I first read about the split between the Scrum Alliance and that could be that alternative, but this is plainly not the case.

We have seen, in venues ranging from YouTube to Wikipedia to OkCupid, the power of crowd-sourcing knowledge and creativity. Let's brainstorm on what a crowd-sourced Scrum organization might look like:

1) It needs to have *no* financial interest in owning its ideas, teaching its ideas, etc. The profit motive has arguably distorted the judgment of the professionals at the Scrum Alliance, and seems highly likely to distort the judgment of the professionals at in the same ways.

2) It needs to grow, adapt, and change over time. It needs to take feedback from its users, alter with the increasing knowledge of the community, and always be focused on inspecting and adapting to improve itself.

3) It needs to be small, lightweight, and agile (not "Agile"). We don't need a huge organization with pages of bylaws and a board of directors, we need a website, a few programmers, and a bunch of Scrum practitioners sharing their knowledge to improve the way everyone builds software.

There are already wikis out there that capture and share crowd-sourced knowledge about different aspects of Agile (e.g. ). Without re-inventing the wheel, how could such a crowd-sourced Scrum organization draw from the community as a mass of creative, experienced individuals, to give back to the community in the form of useful, free educational resources, or a meaningful certification process?

I'm much enamored of the OkCupid model, which combines mathematical analysis with user-provided data-gathering mechanisms. Something as simple as a correlational model which accepts questions from the community, correlates individuals' answers to them with those same individuals' Scrum experience (number of years doing Agile, number of years doing Scrum, number of Scrum projects, number of successful Scrum projects), and then allows community members to take a selection of the questions and receive a "Scrum Experience Score", might be all that is needed.



Michele said...

Could you say some more about the OK Cupid model for correlations and such? It's not a site I've much used, so I've got only the vaguest of understandings of how they do what they do.

satva said...

Interesting! I have to admit, my entire experience of Scrum is a half hour long digression into the matter in a meeting about adapting Agile methods for our tiny game building project. Reading the above, I instantly thought of things like Make and Instructables as people who are successfully crowdsourcing how-tos. I really approve of this idea.

One thing that we discovered is that we could see Agile in general as a tool box, and apply specific aspects and ideas, modified to fit our tiny, evenings-and-weekends process, pretty well; but that is was an innovative process to do so. It seems that pooling experience in adapting these methods to different types of projects seems valuable.

Hell, to really fly off the handle here, what I was exposed to in discussing Agile has affected my other collaborative projects, and even the way I write for collaborators; Agile, at least, seems to be an interesting approach to the problems of collaboration in creative processes, and further generalization seems inevitable.

All of the above with the disclaimers that I Know Nothing, so these are all impressions, and I don't know the relationship of Scrum to Agile, so don't know how off-topic I have gotten.

Another thought on crowdsourcing complex info... the real benefit for me of crowdsourcing comes from the interaction of several sites, so if I were to try to create a crowdsource info site, I would make sure it had several distinct interfaces that then inter-related... so for instance, a 'blog' where news and discussions happen, ala BoingBoing; a media collection like Instructables, where tutorials and such can be held; and a wiki for some sort of more organized reference guide. No one element of that provides anything like the utility of the interactions of these parts.

Mickey Phoenix said...

Ah, yes--it's very clever. OkCupid is a free, online dating site, renowned for the accuracy and relevance of their matching algorithm. But the really interesting thing is not so much how they crunch the numbers, it's where those numbers come from.

People in the community propose multiple-choice questions--and OkCupid preferentially asks its users those questions which have the best statistical segmentation of the population. That is to say, the question "What is your favorite color? 1) Red 2) Green 3) Blue" will divide the population into sub-sections, but not sub-sections with any useful correlation to other divisions. On the other hand, if you have already asked people "Do you believe strongly in a personal God? 1) Yes 2) No", then the question "Would you ever have an abortion if you got pregnant and did not want or could not afford another child? 1) Yes 2) No" might (or might not) do a good job of further segmenting that population into meaningful subgroups, while the question "Are you a Lutheran? 1) Yes 2) No" probably doesn't. So what OkCupid is really doing is looking for questions which divide the population into reasonably equivalently sized sub-groupings in ways that other questions haven't already divided them, with some degree of correlation to divisions which have already been established (since this indicates that it's probably not a "favorite color" type of question).

There are some additional tweaks that we could adopt for a crowd-sourced Scrum Experience exam, such as the ability for users to rate how important they think a question is, but that's probably too high a level of detail for this point in the process.

Boris Gloger said...

Hi, nice idea. I would love to say that we do not need a new certification or something like this. But unfortunately more and more people came to my class this year, because the wanted a piece of paper.
So -- to satisfy these need that the scrum community created we need a new ideas.
best boris

jaya said...

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