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This post is from the CollabNet VersionOne blog and has not been updated since the original publish date.

Last Updated Mar 25, 2014 — Enterprise Agile Planning expert

Why Take A 3-Day Certified Scrum Master (CSM) Class?

Enterprise Agile Planning

Scrum Class Participants
The Certified Scrum Master (CSM) class I’ve usually offered is an interactive cartoon e-learning series (Scrum Training Series completed before attendance) + two days of team lab activities.  It gets great reviews, such as this one from my last class:

Attended a Scrum Master class with Michael James as the teacher, and it was amazing. He was extremely knowledgeable, professional, and fun to get along with. I’d highly recommend anyone to take one or more of his classes.

While I was writing this article, a participant from the Washington DC area posted this on my LinkedIn profile:

I left the class so well-prepared for the certification exam — and so much more. I felt ready for the real world, as Michael, after ensuring that we were ready for the exam, maximized our practical learning through hands-on team activities, plus explanations of key Scrum and Agile concepts illustrated from his own professional experiences. I cannot imagine a better learning experience. 

But many participants wish we had additional time to dig deeper into the implications of Agile to organizations that have more than seven people.  Large organizations are where Scrum gets screwed up the most.  The principles are exactly the same, but the layers of self deception and muscle memory in big companies stump even expert consultants.

So we’ve decided to offer a 3-day CSM class.  (It’s actually 3.1 days if you count the cartoons and quizzes everyone does before the class.)  Most of the additional time will focus on examples and case studies.  As always, we’ll use fun interactive techniques that aid retention.  I use activities rather than long lectures because we’ve found people don’t remember lectures that go on longer than 5-10 minutes.  Years ago when I switched to activity-based learning, a university professor who attended my class in Europe wrote:

a fluid uninterrupted learning experience…. interesting, high value training.

The 3-day CSM class will appeal to you if:

  • You are the type of person that has a natural curiosity for learning
  • You push yourself to be the best in whatever you do
  • You enjoy problem solving and are comfortable with ambiguity as you explore the best options for a complex situation
  • You appreciate theory but learn best by doing
  • You are a job seeker wanting to be more knowledgeable about Agile during job interviews than an ordinary CSM
  • You are a consultant who wants greater confidence in guiding organizations
  • You are a business leader seeking to avoid common mistakes in implementing Scrum


The main topics covered by primarily by team activities and examples:

  • How Agile development differs from traditional project management.
  • Three Scrum roles, responsibilities, boundaries, in depth.
  • How to write well formed Product Backlog Items such as user stories.
  • Techniques for splitting large requirements (e.g. epics) into small specific ones.
  • Product Backlog prioritization.
  • Effort estimation.
  • Maintaining the Sprint Backlog.
  • Five Scrum meetings (how to, how not to).
  • Sprint execution for self organizing teams.
  • Definition of done and the potentially-shippable product increment.
  • Environments that encourage or impede team self organization.
  • Small group dynamics (the psychology of innovative teams).
  • Modern Agile engineering practices including test-driven development (TDD).
  • Lean principles derived from the Toyota Production System.
  • Product Owner planning and forecasting beyond one Sprint.
  • Case studies of Scrum in large organizations.
  • Case studies of Scrum for large scale development.
  • Case studies of common organizational impediments.
  • Case studies of successful and unsuccessful attempts to introduce Scrum/Agile to organizations.


The class contains individual and group knowledge tests that precede the ScrumAlliance’s online test.

Scrum Training Series

Better prepared groups are able to spend more time on the advanced topics.  For this reason, I will need you and your colleagues to complete the Scrum Training Series before class, and work with me beforehand about any areas of confusion.  During the class you’ll be on a fast moving team applying what you learned before the class.  The Scrum Training Series is also highly regarded:

This series is FANTASTIC! It was entertaining, engaging and informative. I’m very new to SCRUM and this material was presented in a very logical, easy to understand manner. It’s such a logical framework and approach! In fact, I sent the link to all the PMs in my company (we’re implementing this approach to SDLC).

We’re initially offering the 3-day CSM class in Seattle (April 28-30), New York (May 7-9), and San Francisco (June 10-12). Participants have already started signing up.

Scrum Class Activity

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