Scrum Alliance & PMI: A Day at the Museum

Because I'm a board member and a founder of the Scrum Alliance, I am often asked what I think about the new agile certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI). A recent trip to New York City helped clarify my thinking on this.

I was in New York with my wife and daughters for spring break and doing the tourist thing. I'd live in NYC for a couple of years in the mid-1980s and was enjoying showing my daughters some of my frequent haunts. Our last full day there was very rainy, and we decided we'd visit a museum–either the American Museum of Natural History or the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We settled on the Natural History museum. Dinosaur bones win out over fancy paintings in my family any day, and I'm usually OK with that.

While buying tickets at the Natural History museum I was told that for not much more I could also buy a ticket that would let me into the Met. That was a bit odd. One museum was selling me a ticket that would let me into both. I later found out that the Met would have sold me a ticket that would also have allowed admission to the Natural History Museum.

Yet clearly these two museums were competitors. I know that because my family's discussion that morning had been, “Which museum should we visit today?” The two museums had competed for my family's dollars that day. Yet each was selling discounted admission to the other.

Which made sense. Sure, on that day the two museums were competitors for my attention and dollars. But, both museums realized that both could prosper together. Someone likely to enjoy a day at one museum is the type of person likely to enjoy a day at the other. A donor to one museum is likely a donor at the other.

And so, while looking at a fossilized protoceratops skull, I realized that while the Scrum Alliance and PMI are competitors in some ways, they each serve a common audience, and their real future is together just as with these two great New York museums. People likely to get a certification or training in agile processes or agile project management from one of these organizations are likely to be interested in agile training or certifications from the other.

Sure, there are times they will be competitors. Just like my family sat in our hotel deciding which museum would get our time and money that day, people will choose daily between a PMI event or certification and one from the Scrum Alliance. But, the person who takes a PMI-approved class today is the type of person who will take a Scrum Alliance class tomorrow.

Both organizations can thrive together. And that's the future I hope we can work toward.



About the Author

As the founder of Mountain Goat Software, Mike Cohn specializes in helping companies adopt and improve their use of agile processes and techniques to build extremely high-performance teams. He is the author of User Stories Applied for Agile Software Development, Agile Estimating and Planning, and Succeeding with Agile. Mike is a founding member of the Agile Alliance and Scrum Alliance. He is also the founder of, an online agile training website. He can be reached at or connect with Mike on Google+.