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Professional Scrum Trainer Spotlight - Lavaneesh Gautam's Journey to Scrum Mastery | Expert Insights & Tips

May 9, 2024


Lavaneesh Gautam, a Professional Scrum Trainer, shares his journey to becoming a Scrum Master and PST with guest host PST Ryan Ripley.

Gautam first encountered Scrum while working as a developer/business analyst in a fintech company in 2011. He appreciated its transparency and visual management, which motivated him to become a Scrum Master in 2014.

His interest in Scrum was sparked by the limitations he observed in the waterfall method, particularly its command-and-control culture, which diminished job satisfaction.

Gautam highlights a pivotal experience in an automotive company where a project failure due to a lack of agile practices made him realize the importance of iterative and incremental work and understanding the underlying needs behind requirements.

He advises aspiring Scrum Masters to continually learn and explore beyond formal training, emphasizing the importance of mindset, experimentation, and understanding broader aspects of product management and team dynamics.



Lindsay Velecina  0:03  
Welcome to the community podcast, a podcast from the home of Scrum. In this podcast we feature professional scrum trainers and other scrum practitioners sharing their stories and experiences to help learn from the experience of others. We hope you enjoy this episode.

Ryan Ripley  0:19  
Hi, everyone. I'm Ryan Ripley with Agile for humans and professional scrum trainer with I'm stepping in as a guest host for episodes highlighting the experiences of other Professional scrum trainers. I hope you enjoy getting to know these amazing people. Welcome to this episode of becoming a scrum master. I'm your host Ryan Ripley joining me today fellow professional scrum trainer. Lavaneesh, great to see you.

Lavaneesh Gautam  0:45  
Thank you, Ron. Thank you. Thank you for inviting me here as well. Of

Ryan Ripley  0:49  
course, can't wait to hear about your journey to becoming a scrum master. We're gonna jump right into it. We try to keep these pretty concise. And so let's jump right into that first question. Can you share the story of how you first encountered Scrum? And what motivated you to become a scrum master? Was there a particular moment or experience that really sparked your interest?

Lavaneesh Gautam  1:13  
Okay, so first, I will talk about that first I encountered the scrum. So I used to work in one FinTech company in 2011 12. And that was the first time I came to know about the scrum framework. So I was working as a kind of a developer within the scrum team. So my role pretty much like the business analyst. And I really liked the way the scrum helped our team as well. And especially making the thing visualize as well. And providing the transparency. And the slowly I thought that Oh, that's really interesting. Maybe this is something I would like to do and help my teams and my organizations better as well. And then I got the chance first time in 2014, to become a scrum master. And since then, I loved it. So yeah, any particular moment that sparked my interest was I can say, before, even using the scrum, I worked in some very waterfall kind of way of working as well. And I saw that how that waterfall kind of wait sometimes can create that come command and control kind of culture, which takes a bit of joy from the people and I have been a victim of that as well. So that's when I thought that okay, maybe scrum can help a Scrum Masters can help. And that's where that spark started coming as well.

Ryan Ripley  2:41  
That's awesome. Thanks for sharing that. Hopefully, we can help. Right. Hopefully we do. Bring some joy to work. Yeah,

Lavaneesh Gautam  2:46  
I think we can. Because it's not a traditional role. To me. It's not like just coming and keep saying, Okay, do this, do that, do this, do that. It's not like that. It's more about that. Okay, trying to understand what how we can help our teams and becoming more effective and in itself. And, yes, if you can bring the purpose in their work, I think they will start getting a little bit more happiness, to be honest.

Ryan Ripley  3:12  
Yeah. So was there a specific project or situation where you had an A Reek a eureka moment? Or where a light bulb went off? Where you realize the true power and potential of Scrum? If so, could you describe that experience? Yeah. So

Lavaneesh Gautam  3:27  
I used to work in one automotive company in 2013 14. Ryan, so we were calling it out ourself. We are working agile ways of working, but we were not. So we actually took, so I can say, three to four months to actually get them the requirements. We are going to the people asking them, What do you want, and many times they will say, Oh, I won't work on this spreadsheet. I want you to replicate this spreadsheet into the new tool. Okay, and then we build that tool in the two years. After two years, we release the product there. And same people who actually gave us the requirement that rejected that product by saying that, okay, this is not meeting our requirement, we said, but this is exactly what you asked for the problem. What happened was just to meet those spreadsheet functionality, our product was so heavily customized. And it became so slow, that when our engineer, they were even trying to enlarge an image of any part. It was taking them few minutes, and they rejected it. Yep.

Ryan Ripley  4:38  
So yeah, iterative and incremental became far more important, right? Yes,

Lavaneesh Gautam  4:41  
yes. Meanings and also bringing asking the people why as well, why do you actually use that spreadsheet? Don't just take the requirement for the sake of it. Maybe trying to understand the what outcome are you looking for from this as well?

Ryan Ripley  4:55  
So great, yeah. How is your perception and execution of the scrum master role evolved? Are there aspects of the role or the accountabilities, that you viewed differently now compared to when you first started? I

Lavaneesh Gautam  5:09  
would say yes. When I was an early Scrum Master, I think many times it happened that I thought that I'm helping the team. But I was not helping the team in itself. So very much like moving the tickets on their boats. I used to think that, Oh, I'm actually helping the team when I'm moving those tickets from this in progress column to that Done column and all. And what I learned was that sometimes I'm moving the tickets, but that was not the right status of those tickets itself. And also, I was not helping the team to learn as well how to add workflow actually works as well. And I think I have learned some hard ways. Another example of this is I used to write JQ ELLs for my teams, JIRA queries, the how to actually gather the data from and create the dashboard, create the automated reports from the JIRA. Now, whenever whenever I started working as a scrum master, first thing I tried to do is guys, just give me the read only access, don't give me the edit access. If anybody doesn't know, I can help you, I can coach you and teach you that how to write that. But I will not write by myself. That's not my job, but I will be mentoring you, I will help you in that. So I would say my role, my perception towards this role is more indirect now, rather than rather than solving all the problems, how I can help people to solve their problem by themselves. So that's, I've considered, it's a big improvement since then, and also just going out from the scrum team as well. So earlier, I always used to think my job is just to help the team. But many of the impediments, as you know, like the team structures, pressure from the leadership, they are actually sitting outside the team. And that's what I learned that okay, I also need to go out from the team to help my team as well. Something we talk about this is a Inside Out change in the our PSM two class. So I think that's something that started coming later on.

Ryan Ripley  7:17  
It's great. Yeah, that, that that shift from scrum master question mark to scrum master exclamation mark. Right. If you don't know what that is, yeah, take a PSM two, right.

Lavaneesh Gautam  7:28  
Yes, that glass great class, one of my favorite. Yeah, it's a

Ryan Ripley  7:32  
great one, Barry and Chris, and the Stewards did a great job there. Yes. All right. What advice would you give to someone aspiring to become a scrum master? Is there a particular mindset skill or habit that you believe is crucial for success in this role?

Lavaneesh Gautam  7:53  
One off, my suggestion would be that two days cannot make you a great scrum master. Yep, will destroy training. Yes, it's a good start. But I think it's a continuous learning. And that's something they need to keep on doing as well keep learning about those new tools, techniques, try out new things. I know many people, they said, Oh, agile is a mindset. Yes, it can be but it takes months, and probably sometimes years to change the mindset as well. It cannot happen after two days training. So maybe that's something that needs to see as well. That Okay, yeah, don't just talk, maybe do some things as well. Okay. It's not just a soft roll role. Maybe learn about few things like Kanban? How can when can help maybe learn more about the product ownership as well learn about the product management, and learn about the metrics like EBM, those are the years I was about to say that. Those are the kinds of things probably we need to learn. Try to apply. I'm not saying everything will work. Somewhere back there. Yeah, yeah. I'm not saying everything will work, but try out. be agile in your agile adoption as well. Don't be dogmatic. Keep learning.

Ryan Ripley  9:07  
Yeah, that continuous learning is important. I'm sure your desk looks a lot like mine. It's just stacked with books and all the things that I should be reading but I'm running out of time each day. But yeah, that's a great tip. Keep learning watch podcasts, read books. I'm glad you have a copy of that as well.

Lavaneesh Gautam  9:23  
Yeah, I was reading this because I was learning about some scaling thing. So they both Nexus and evidence based management our discipline to combine both the work yeah. Oh,

Ryan Ripley  9:33  
I'm sure any scrum master you talk to can start. We could just start popping up. I was looking at trillion dollar coach. I was looking at all sorts of crazy books radical focus, because I'm trying to sort through the OKR nonsense and we our desks are just stacked. I think that's a wonderful tip. Keep reading keep learning. started reading this book

Lavaneesh Gautam  9:52  
as well creating agile organizations. Buses, Eddie Ramos and Ilya. Yeah,

Ryan Ripley  9:58  
yeah, nothing wrong with the Hi Bill. At Amazon, that's a sign. That's a good sign, right?

Lavaneesh Gautam: 10:02  

Ryan Ripley  10:03  
Speaking of books, we just rattled off a bunch. So last question here, What is one book every scrum master should read, does not have to be an agile book does not have to be a scrum book certainly does not have to be one of my books. Just what is the one that you think really helped you out as you were going along this journey?

Lavaneesh Gautam  10:24  
I would say those were the scrum books and in itself, to be honest. And so one book that really helped me was I would say, by Jeff Watts, yeah, Scrum mastery. It's about mastery, how to become the greatest scrum master. And why I like that book was, first of all, so simple to read, in itself, very simple language, which can go into it. And the style of job is very great as well, it's quite easy to remember those things, I would say. And then I really liked your book, which you and Todd wrote, as well, how to fix your Scrum. And why like the dress that again, it is all about, okay, these are the few things that you can start doing as well, certain tools and techniques, which I'm more a fan of knowing those tools and techniques on how to fix the anti patterns, rather than just a lot of theory. I'm not big fan of Teddy. I'm big fan of okay, what are the things I can do to fix the things in itself as well? Good book, all the books by Joe Ford, they are great. Even the product mastery is a great book as well. The mastery is a great book as well. So yeah, those definitely, I would say, few of my favorite, which is user story mapping. I don't know when but many people read it or not. I have keep going to that book again and again. And another book, which is always on my desk is this one how to keep putting the low cost experimentation. I think many people they don't like to do experimentation because they think experiments are always costly. But this book talks about that as well that okay, your experimentation could be a smaller, cheaper as well. And we can bring learnings. It's not everything has to go into the production. You can do the digital prototype, you can do the paper prototype, you can even do the focus group interviews, experiments are all about learning. So I really liked this book as well. Cool. Yeah.

Ryan Ripley  12:18  
Jeff is a good friend. Good, really great trainer, really great author, Jeff Patton with user story mapping wonderful book. Even if you don't end up using User Story mapping. It's still just a good book. Like it's a really, yeah, those are great ones. We'll add them to the shelf. So love and ash, we are at the end of my questions, anything you'd like to get in front of the listeners and the viewers before we call it a day.

Lavaneesh Gautam  12:42  
Oh, what exactly you want me to answer for anything?

Ryan Ripley  12:47  
The plug any websites? Anything coming up

Lavaneesh Gautam  12:50  
from from me? Sure. Oh, yeah. means why not? So my my website? Yeah, so WWW dot edge. That's where I'm mainly working on. Okay, all of my course and blocks. Again, if you search me on the you can find out certain blogs and things which have started writing as well. So yeah, and guys, feel free to connect.

Ryan Ripley  13:13  
Yep. Links will get all your links out there so people can connect with you. Yes. And thank you so much for doing this.

Lavaneesh Gautam  13:20  
Thank you. Thank you, Ryan.



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