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Meet Sumanth Bathula

CSP-SM and CSP-PO Sumanth Reddy Bathula lives in Hyderabad, India and is an Agile coach for Wipro Consulting Services.

For you, what is the main difference between where you began as a CSM®, CSPO®, or CSD® and becoming a CSP®
Certified Scrum Professional® (CSP) certification is not only a personal accomplishment for me; it helps others know my seriousness and experience in Scrum. It’s a great differentiator in the Agile world. CSP is not just book knowledge crammed before a test. Rather, it’s a formal acknowledgment of both the knowledge and the experience applied in real Agile environments. 
CSP is all about “learn by doing, grow by sharing.” 

What is your favorite part about becoming a CSP? 
Getting involved in meet-ups or gatherings, where we share real experiences and debate on what the right approach could be in a specific environment; making new friends in the Scrum world. . . . I leave every meet-up with a satisfied mind, because either I shared my knowledge or I learned something new. 

Give us an example of how the CSP certification has helped you in your career. 
The certification proves to my clients that I’m a subject matter expert; they are more interested in attending my brown-bag topics about Agile/Scrum, and they value my support and guidance during project development activities and management meetings. All I can say now is, visibility has been increased at my workplace. 

How did you first find out about Scrum? 
When I was working with Telecom in Stockholm during 2006, I saw development projects run using Scrum. Their big whiteboards with lots of Post-Its and their popular daily stand-up meetings piqued my curiosity, which led me into the world of Scrum.  

What do you find easiest about Scrum? 
Estimation used to be very hard, but with the Scrum approach of relative estimation, it’s easy. Relative estimation is consistent with estimation in units other than time and avoids some of the pitfalls associated with estimating in general: seeking unwarranted precision, confusing estimates for commitments. 

What do you find most difficult about Scrum? 
While helping organizations transform their traditional practices, I face natural difficulties; Scrum goes against all that they have learned in so many, many years of Waterfall development. It stands to reason that it will take them a while to unlearn bad habits and adjust to a new reality. 

What’s your best/worst work experience using Scrum? 
Best experience: Since I worked eight-plus years in research & development (R&D), naturally I’m inclined toward discovery-track activities where the product owner plays an important role right from product envisioning. So all my satisfying Scrum experiences are when I’m involved in product envisioning, user research, business value estimation, and story nurturing. 

Worst/bad experience: whenever I have to start with a lot of technical debt or product design debt. There could be many reasons why we have these debts. It’s really painful to address debt when we have an objective to push out an enhanced product. 

How has using Scrum changed you? 
A lot on mindset. I was very strict about following rules during the first seven years of my career. The Scrum way of thinking changed me a lot; I should say it transformed my personality. Now flexibility, adaptability, and simplicity are always on my mind, and this is working wonders for me. 

If you could add one thing to Scrum, what would it be? 
Scrum advocates simplicity, flexibility, and close communication and collaboration; beyond that, it’s all about what works for you. As a Scrum practitioner, I keep adding small improvements in using the tools and techniques. Learning the right way of using these tools and techniques is important; following them mechanically is not right. For example, in many situations I find velocity is used incorrectly to increase the speed of development. Teams should understand that they don’t go faster by increasing velocity; they go faster by deploying increments. Velocity is simply a tool that Scrum Teams can use to forecast how much work can be taken on in a sprint. Measuring and optimizing velocity is arguably a waste of time. Scrum trainings and coaches should emphasize that increasing velocity cannot be a goal. 

Do you use Scrum in your life outside of work? If yes, how? 
I have dashboard in my study room, where I track all my personal activities in simple columns: “Backlog,” “In Progress,” and “Completed.” I review and update this every day before I go to sleep, and practicing this over the last three-plus years has been a great help to me. I put almost everything here, from meetings with my old friends to paying bills to renewing my insurance to home repairs to planning outings with my son, etc. It’s a simple and easy way to streamline my day-to-day personal stuff. 

What advice would you give to someone new to Scrum? 
One needs to understand that there is no “doing Agile,” there is only “being Agile.” Developing an Agile mindset is important; it’s a belief that we can all improve over time, and a view that our abilities are not fixed but evolve with effort.  

What is your favorite quote? And why? 
“Change is not a threat, it’s an opportunity. Survival is not the goal, transformative success is,” by Seth Godin. I often use this quote use during my Scrum sessions; it’s a truly powerful message. Change is a great opportunity to mold the world around us. It’s an opportunity to move forward. We have seen companies or individuals survive during the toughest times not because they are strongest or the most intelligent but because of their adaptability to change.