PSM vs CSM vs Other


@Gemphilly I’ve attended twice.

Agile Coach Bootcamp is both The Agile Facilitator and Coaching Agile Teams in one week long intensive.”

First time I was a participant and obtained ICAgile Agile Certified Coach (ICP-ACC) & Agile
Team Facilitator (ICP-ATF) |

The second time I served as an assistant.

Each time the course was facilitated by Lyssa Adkins, Michael Spade and Michael Hammond.

Both experiences were amazing, each in their own unique way. The combination of the two course (Agile Facilitator & Coaching Agile Teams), in a solid week away from all distractions was, as their site says, “not only a rich and transformative experience but also a good foundation for future learning.”

And getting to be there twice was double the learning.

While I attended over 2 years ago, I use things from those experiences every single day.


hey folks - I would certainly encourage any dedicated Agilist to do the Bootcamp. I went last fall with 2 colleagues and we just sent another 2 co-workers last month. Next on deck is our manager. Both components add a lot to notion of servant-leadership. +1 to Andy’s commentary about amazing experiences with daily application.


I had a CSM directly from Ken S way back in the day. It was never important to get a bunch of letters after my name. Then let like 12 years pass and everyone has these letters on their resumes. I gave in and let me test my knowledge with or without training, my choice. Now I have a bunch of letters just in case I need it for a resume scan.

I will tell you I have also been in a’s PSM and SPS classes and their trainers are the best of the best. You will learn even if you think you will not. They got me jazzed about agility again when I was beat down. I sat in a presentation of Todd’s he is a great example of what is putting out there. I don’t even bother with the alliance anymore I lost track of what they sell.



@Leanleff and @Troy - I can see that the training can be really valuable because of the real-life examples, anecdotes, stories etc. that the trainers bring into the class-room. The trainers before they are awarded the CST go through rigorous process to become a CST. I have co-trained with some of the best trainers from the world in the US, Europe and India. Even though I co-trained with different people, same class, same learning objectives but the perspective these trainers bring into the class-room is amazing! Every time, I co-train or train on my own, I always find that I am learning each day and improving.


By the way I did go through the program. The facilitation efforts was a known activity for me, but a good refresher. The ICP-ACC course was a really neat class. I did take the class with different instructors and as I expected every trainer is slightly different. I do highly recommend the ICP-ACC for scrum masters that have trained their team in agile and scrum/kanban/etc… and to help with what to do next.


The interesting thing about’s courses is that they’re standardized (I’m a training candidate with them.) As a result, Scrum is covered as both from both process and cultural standpoints. Part of what they build in are learning activities that are supposed to lead you down the wrong path.

I’ve also taken a CSM course and the instructor was excellent. I probably learned more from him overall but the other students in that class thought it was overkill (he held a PhD in Information Systems.)


So much comes down to the facilitator(s)

@dcorlieu you’ve got me scratching my head on:

Part of what they build in are learning activities that are supposed to lead you down the wrong path.

Unpack that phrase :slight_smile:



@andycleff Some of the exercises are specifically designed to “shock” the learner out of “old” assumptions.

So, this is hypothetical because, well, copyright, plus I wouldn’t want to take anything away from anyone who does a PSM course but:

Imagine an exercise in which a Scrum Team is being asked to estimate delivery of a feature. The PSM course would divide into teams, each team would be given a lot of material and information about what to consider in providing the estimate, they would spend a not insignificant amount of time calculating a hypothetical delivery date and at the end of the exercise, they might find that their estimate is way off track (despite all their work) because it undermined a fundamental Agile or Scrum principle (or that they didn’t take into account some aspect of Scrum that they had been introduced to hours earlier.)

It’s not uncommon for students to be frustrated and even angry after some of the exercises but the goal is to “make it stick.”

I liked my CSM class a lot but I don’t remember it nearly as well as my PSM class precisely because there was no emotional component to it.

The exercises are competitive and there oftentimes conclusions that have to be drawn that are not clear cut at all. It’s in line with the PSM exams though which lean heavily toward “considering the principles of Scrum, which one of these imperfect responses best answers the spirit of the question?”-type scenarios.

How’d I do on being specific yet oblique?



@bradstokes this seems to align with some of the learning by failure stuff we chatted about. Same circuits?


That sounds so close. To provide some context I’m doing reading atm that is around the idea of practice based learning using an intial deliberate failure as the baseline to build from.


Hi Troy, I didn’t see this thread until now – I remember meeting you, OF COURSE, at that session in NYC.

I wonder, are you any closer to becoming CST these days?


Hi @asciamanna,

The value/quality of CSD courses depends ENTIRELY on the trainer. I’ve observed trainers and curricula that range from outstanding to embarrassing. It appears not all CSD credentials are created equal – but Scrum Alliance has attracted a few great trainers rather by accident.

The first course I attended/observed was taught by Mike Bowler – a curriculum he made in collaboration with Mishkin Berteig. Mike’s class was outstanding! I’d say any CSD with Mike’s signature is a legit credential. But that’s not true of all CSDs.

I’ve observed other CSD trainers and found the quality of instruction and course material to vary widely. This condition is to be expected based on the approval process for becoming a REP with Scrum Alliance – that is, any CSP can submit course materials for CSD, then Scrum Alliance does their best to validate those course materials against the learning objectives. But it’s important to be reminded that, until 2018, becoming a CSP was relatively trivial and there’s no way to test one instructor’s approach against the other instructors. (Scrum Alliance does not gather any data, qualitative or quantitative, to measure the results of each trainer.)

I suggest interested developers ought to get to know the trainers before committing $$$ for registration – perhaps send one person to their class before arranging a CSD for the whole team.

On a related note: I’d be interested to learn whether anyone in this thread has attended a PSD with a trainer.


Hello everyone,

@ryan started this thread in 2016. Since then, both Scrum Alliance and have added new certifications to their models.

New certs include the Scrum+Kanban course (PSK) and the Professional leadership course (PAL). Also, there are more PSTs worldwide now than CSTs. Awareness of has certainly grown in my local area since Ryan’s initial post.

New Scrum Alliance certs include the ‘Advanced’ SM and PO badges, plus the segregation of CSP into ‘paths’ toward SM or PO – one or the other. Each of those new credentials is achieved with further contact with CSTs – so new courses have been added for the A-CSM, A-CSPO and CSP-SM and CSP-PO.

I’d love if everyone in this thread would elaborate on the topic. Has your thinking changed at all? Do you think these developments are good (or not) for the community?