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PST Spotlight - Becoming a Scrum Master - Souleymane Thiongane

March 5, 2024

In this PST Spotlight episode, guest host Ryan Ripley interviews fellow Professional Scrum Trainer Souleymane Thiongane about his journey to becoming a Scrum Master.  From his initial discovery of Scrum as a software developer to becoming a passionate advocate and master of the Scrum framework, Souleymane shares valuable lessons and experiences.



Ryan Ripley: 0:09
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. Alright, welcome to another episode of becoming a scrum master. I'm your host Ryan Ripley joining me today fellow professional scrum scrum trainer. Suleiman. How are you doing?

Souleymane: 0:47
I'm good, Randy. Thank you for inviting me. Nice to be in your channel. Very happy to be there. And yeah, let's get started.

Ryan Ripley: 0:55
Yeah, let's do it. We'll jump right into it. I like that good energy. Right. So 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?

Souleymane: 1:12
Yeah, a very good question, actually. So I discovered scrum back in 2015. So I was a software developer at that moment. And one of my managers asked me some questions. So like, Man, how can we improve the way we are delivering our products to our customers, because we're facing many difficulties on delivering the products, you know, the right way or delivering the what the customer was expecting. We were having many back and forth, things were already absolutely messy. So he asked me that question. And I tried to figure out how we can improve things. That's how I discovered Scrum. And since that moment, I can say that I fell in love with this framework. And yeah, it helped me to, you know, navigate through different challenges, different other industries. Until now.

Ryan Ripley: 1:57
That's wonderful. And that kind of leads into the next question. I'd like to pose, you know, once you got into using the framework, and you're kind of, you're getting this experience with Scrum, was there this big eureka moment or lightbulb moment? Where you just saw how powerful scrum could be in product development? And if so, could you describe that? Yeah, actually,

Souleymane: 2:19
I do have something that is popping directly on my mind. It was still on my early beginning on my originally because we were in a company in which it was very difficult to talk about agility, because it was known as heavy or you know, very heavy, let's say company. So scrum helped us build a software that will really challenging for that company, because we had competitors that were gaining market shares, and things will go very, very fast. And we need to deliver something into the hands of the customers very early. And we scrum we achieved in couple of months to release the first version of our product that helped us, you know, maintain couple of our, let's say, most critical customers into our market shares, and start to gain back the market share, and to start winning again, our customers and to still be relevant in that company that the first thing I can consider as my success story with Scrum. And it was an aha moment. We can do great things with this framework.

Ryan Ripley: 3:18
So what was it about using Scrum in that context of having to deliver like, how did is there something that scrum did that really allowed you to achieve that? That delivery?

Souleymane: 3:30
Yeah, especially the fact that we were in an incremental approach, it was something that was totally new in that company, it was okay, when unimaginable to think about delivering things in an incremental way. So it was really a game changer in our context. And in our company,

Ryan Ripley: 3:48
it's really cool to see the impossible become possible. Right?

Souleymane: 3:51
Exactly. Awesome. Awesome.

Ryan Ripley: 3:54
So the next question is more about the scrum master role, or as we call them, now, the accountability. So how has or whether maybe how is presumptions? If your perception about the the execution of the scrum master role has evolved? You know, how has that changed? And are there aspects of the role that you view differently now, compared to when you first started back in 2015?

Souleymane: 4:20
Yeah, definitely. It totally changes the meaning. And mainly, it changed when I started the PhD journey. I can say that very proudly. And I'm even recommending many SCRUM masters that are, you know, very familiar with the framework and that are using who are using the framework very often. I'm suggesting them to go through that path because it will be a learning opportunity, first of all, why I'm saying that because when I was starting this club, I was doing things that today when I'm, you know, sharing it with other people, I can even laugh, because just an example how I was doing my daily scrubs. It was in front of my flip chart, taking my notes, asking questions, reporting everything else at At the end, I send an email to the managers informing them what you have decided. So it was not exactly what a daily scrum should be. But I, you know, continue to learn to discover more about it. And it's an opportunity again to thank you again, because your book, meaning fixing, your scrum helped me a lot during my PhD journey. This channel, it helped us a lot, you maybe you don't know who are following it. But it's a having, let's say a lot of value to the subscriber of this channel. Personally, I'm recommending this channel to many people. And yet I continue to learn to learn to discover and the PSTN helped me a lot and they mainly change the my mind of thinking about the framework. And what I can say is that one of the most thing I really discovered with this journey was to understand or to do not fall into the trap of, you know, thinking Scrum, about only the mechanics, the mechanics of Scrum, but start thinking about the value the impact the outcome in the customer.

Ryan Ripley: 5:59
Yeah, I wholeheartedly agree. I before starting the scrum master, the professional scrum trainer, the PST journey, I thought I was smart. And I went through it. And I was like, Oh, I've got so much more to learn. Exactly. That's back when we were face to face a lot. And I had Stephanie Ackerman do the train the trainer process that doesn't exist anymore. But yeah, it's humbling. And you know, she's awesome at what she does. And yeah, you've come out of it going, I need to learn so much more. It's great, isn't it? Yeah,

Souleymane: 6:36
exactly the same situation.

Ryan Ripley: 6:39
So kind of along that thread. So you've already given some advice of going through the PST journey. But for those who don't want to be a trainer, right, let's just say there are some people that they prefer not to go down that path. What advice instead would you give them? You know, for someone that's still aspiring to become a scrum master? Now, is there a particular mindset skill habit? You know, aside from continuous learning that we've already really kind of hammered on right, that you believe is crucial for success in this role.

Souleymane: 7:11
All right, first of all, the first recommendation or advice would be, even though you're not interested in becoming a trainer, I would advise because on my side, it was really helpful, I would advise at least to attend to Class A professional scrum class. I think it will be very interesting, because many people are learning scrum from different sources. Everyone is writing about the framework in the internet, we can have different sources. But attending a professional Scrum, I asked myself, the first time I attend to a professional scrum class, I told myself, I would like I have attended this class years ago. Because the recommendation, and regarding the skills and the mindset, I do think and believe that a scrum master is someone who, let's say, I don't want to say a lot of people, because it's too too far. But what I want to say is that someone who needs to have good relationship skills, and someone who needs to be in touch with people, and who can feel being what they, what they, they, they would like to change and who can support them who has empathy, I would say, and who can support them into, you know, achieving the challenges and tackling the impediments? I think it would be good advice for a scrum master to develop that skill and mindset. I don't know if that answers your question.

Ryan Ripley: 8:35
Oh, it's great. I wholeheartedly agree that ability to understand where your allies are that ability to read a room, that ability to kind of have empathy for others, because, yeah, you know, something that, and maybe this isn't exactly what you intended. But for me, it's, you know, looking at managers, and how badly they're treated during transformations and trying to have some empathy for what they're going through. And yeah, understanding that we're all just people trying to do what's best for ourselves and our families. And, you know, I think all of that understanding is so important, because if you can, if you can sympathize with a manager, and and deliver things in a way that's beneficial to them to then you have a friend, as opposed to a locker, right?

Souleymane: 9:21
Yeah, instead of opposing people. He's totally right. Yeah. No, very

Ryan Ripley: 9:25
cool. I wholeheartedly agree. I think it's a great, great piece of advice. So last question I've got for you. And really what is one book that every scrum master should read? So you've mentioned fixing your Scrum and I really appreciate that. I'm glad that that book was helpful. But aside from fixing your Scrum, what would you say is a book that every scrum master should pick up and read?

Souleymane: 9:50
I will say that this one from Gunther I do like it a lot. Yes, it's a very concise book and inside you can learn a lot about mindset of the framework. Never Skin. Yeah, exactly.

Ryan Ripley: 10:01
Yeah. Gunther is scrum pocket book or is it pocket guide? I think it's pocket book.

Souleymane: 10:07
Exactly. Yes. my travel companion Pocket Guide. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful book. One. Yeah, very good.

Ryan Ripley: 10:13
We'll add that to the show notes and make sure that people check that out Gunther, his work is His blog is books, his videos always great to check out. I try to catch every one of those 20. He doesn't publish so much anymore. But when he does, I always get that alert. So hopefully, everyone's getting alerts on these videos, too.

Souleymane: 10:30
Right? Yeah, it would be great.

Ryan Ripley: 10:33
I'll tell you what, I really appreciate you doing this. Certainly a lot of fun and interesting answers, sir, anything you'd like to promote? Or put in front of the channel before we wrap this up?

Souleymane: 10:46
Yeah, thank you, first of all, for this opportunity to discuss with you to meet you because it's an honor to meet you, I would say something I can promote. Why not my services, right? Because if you are in Africa and you are interested in agility and you would like to someone who helped to you to, you know, agile to transform to embrace agility, or to you know, implement Scrum or to discover the framework or learn about it. You can reach out to us your agility that come it's our website. And yeah, I would be glad. Glad to help.

Ryan Ripley: 11:17
Awesome. Well, thank you again, so much for doing this. It was great meeting you, and I hope to meet in person someday.

Souleymane: 11:25
Exactly. Thank you. Good bye.


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