Recently, Scrum and the Certified Scrum Master program in particular have come in the crosshairs of non-Scrum Agilistas and been condemned as a Bad Thing. Martin Fowler wrote about Flaccid Scrum. James Shore, author of The Art of Agile Development explained why he doesn't do agile certification. Certification is about mediocrity and agile is about striving for greatness.
If we believe that agile is eventually going to become the mainstream software development strategy — and I do — then this attitude misses the mark. In a time when every office worker gets told 'A Microsoft Office certification is good for your career,' it is clear that certification is part of the game. We may not like it, but we ignore this reality at our peril.
I believe one of the reasons why XP has been displaced by Scrum as the name-brand agile methodology is the XP's lack of a certification program. It's not just about the price of a CSM course (which is not that different from other two day courses and seems to be melting a bit in the face of the recession) but about the market acceptance of a certification. It's part of the norming process associated with widespread acceptance.
Developers were the first evangelists and early adopters of Agile. Unfortunately, these early adopters were unable to bring agile to the enterprise. Management didn't understand it and got scared. Scrum is about management -- and through the CSM Program, about marketing to management. Scrum doesn't eliminate the need for XP, but it places engineering practices where they belong: in the self organizing development team.
While focusing on greatness is certainly legit, by ignoring what the market is saying, proponents of XP have lost mindshare to those who are listening, in this case, proponents of Scrum. (Some have listened: Both Ron Jefferies and Alistair Cockburn are now CST's).
For the record, I do believe the CSM certification process is in for some changes. Currently the trainer is certified, not the Scrum Master. Nonetheless, I believe certification will play an important role in the acceptance of agile in the marketplace. The sooner there is an accepted XP certification, the better!