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Scrum alliance CEO living the 1st principle of the agile manifesto

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting Howard Sublett, the CEO of Scrum Alliance for a 1 to 1 zoom session.

How did this meeting come about?

Quite simply, Scrum Alliance responded to a challenge I had raised to them as a customer and took it upon themselves to address it personally.

Whilst I can't say Howard and I agreed on everything that was discussed, it was a hugely positive session. There were things I wasn't aware of & acknowledgements made about areas of improvement for the Scrum Alliance.

I wanted to share what I discovered with you, here are some of my learnings from our chat;

  • It was acknowledged that the Scrum Alliance hasn't done as good a job as it could have with regards to articulating its story, values and the benefits of renewals.

  • Scrum Alliance is a not for profit and due to its tax status in the US, is not able to receive 'donations'. This is why renewal fees for certifications are administrative rather than being a donation.

  • Scrum Alliance is focused on a longitudinal learning process for practitioners over being focused on simple '2 day' courses. Their SEU (Scrum Education Units) is demonstrative of this desire for continued learning and contributing to the agile community

  • Scrum Alliance has been investing in educating recruitment organisations and HR departments in the difference between agile coaching and scrum masters. Scrum Alliance believes that true agile coaching requires demonstrable evidence of community involvement, experience with coaching agility and not just possessing certifications.

  • Every dollar in revenue made by Scrum Alliance is accounted for, contributes towards a benefit or mission and examples of this can be seen in their investments (Over 5million $ in the past year) in free regional scrum gatherings, as well as scholarships / schooling they fund.

  • It was acknowledged that the process for adding SEU's has been cumbersome and work has gone in here to improve this

Thanks again to Howard for his time and for Scrum Alliance for their customer centricity.

My take on the above? The Scrum Alliance does some great work and has an ethos that matches mine with regards to its focus on longitudinal learning. It just needs to learn the art of storytelling a little better to ensure people are aware of their mission.


I did some preparation ahead of the meeting and put out a few polls to my network about certifications and the renewals process, the results can be found below


Have you yourself or has someone you know ever lost an existing job/gig, or missed out on a new job/gig due to having an expired certification

139 total responses

Yes - 6%

No - 94%

Have you ever renewed a certification either that had expired or was due to expire?

127 responses

Yes - 54%

No - 46%

What does this simple poll suggest?

- That certifications aren't the determining factor in people securing job opportunities. They likely act as a barrier to their CV even getting in front of a hiring manager, but experience outweighs them.

- The a large number of people do renew their certifications. I didn't expect this as a non renewer myself, but it does seem to suggest that people do value renewals.

Limitations of the poll

- This was a very small sample size of just those in my network on LinkedIn, and those responding to my poll in the 'Hands on Agile' community of practice, it won't therefore be representative of the wider community.

- It was very simple with only a few questions. There could be much more learned about practitioners habits around renewals with some deeper research.

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