Three ways to improve the current CST certification process
After achieving my CSM, CSPO, and CSP certifications, I had in mind that I would pursue my Certified Scrum Trainer certification at some point. Reading through the requirements and process (best outlined here), I set out to gather the required qualifications to submit my application. This is a long process and one in which I am still going through at the moment. However, as I proceed down this road, there are several ideas I had that I wanted to share with the world for how I think the Scrum Alliance can improve this process and better server their perspective CSTs in the future. If these are the top of your certification ladder and these are the future leaders of the Scrum movement, it seems like it would make sense to offer just a bit more guidance to those who will be the most visible representation of your product to the world at large.
1. Charge a fee to enter the process. - While there is already an application fee, there is nothing formal to enter the process of becoming a CST candidate. Prospective trainers are asked to establish a relationship with other CSTs to co-train and mentor them through this process. The issue there though is that CSTs are busy people who travel frequently. There is no incentive for a current CST to carve out time to mentor perspective trainers. I suggest charging a fee that goes to the current CSTs that mentor prospective trainers. This will ensure that only those who are serious about the process enter it and that current CSTs are shown value for their time in doing this important work. Current CSTs should be paid to mentor.
2. Require CSTs to mentor some number of prospective CSTs yearly to maintain CST status. - While the certifications for CSMs, CSPOs, and CSPs are clear about an ongoing commitment to continuing education in order to maintain certification status, CST certification simply says that it is good for one year. I would propose adding something similar to the Scrum Educational Units (SEUs) that the other certifications require to maintain status to the CST program but in this case tie it to mentoring others. If CSTs are the top of the food chain and the face of the Scrum organization to the general public, shouldn't they be encouraged to help raise up the future generation of CSTs as well? Adding this requirement will benefit both camps.
3. Provide CST "camps" as a requirement for certification. - While foundational level certifications require two day training courses (and a test for CSMs), there is no such additional requirement for CSTs. Applications go through a thorough review process and include a panel review where tough questions are asked of the prospective trainer. However, would it not be more beneficial to have a camp type training retreat (1-2 weeks for example) where candidates are instructed not just on Scrum fundamentals but training skills in general? Prospective trainers would receive one on one feedback and close attention over the course of the camp and a comprehensive test could be administered when it is completed. This would not replace the current process but would augment it. Prospective CSTs would still submit to the TAC board and receive a final panel review but TAC members would be assured that prior to appearing before them, candidates had been through a boot camp that would raise the overall skill level of the general candidates. This would also help to provide a higher level of consistency across CSTs as they all would go through this process moving forward.
In short, I think if we had a retrospective on how the current CST process works we could recognize some of these needs. We might come up with different solutions but it certainly feels like there's room to improve our process.
What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.