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Using Scrum at Hope Home Nepal with GC Uttam

Dave Prior Senior Consultant/CST-CRM Specialist
Reading: Using Scrum at Hope Home Nepal with GC Uttam

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Earlier this year LeadingAgile was contacted by GC Uttam who expressed an interest in taking Certified Scrum Master training. Uttam wanted to learn how he could use Agile practices within his organization to provide better support for the Nepalese orphans and widows they serve.

LeadingAgile believes strongly in giving back. And whenever we can we provide open seats in our classes to those whose work is to serve others. We offered Uttam a seat and agreed to check back a few months after class to see how he’d been able to put what he learned to use. During the interview, Uttam and Dave talk about how he has introduced some of the key principles and values from Agile back to his teams and the people they serve. You’ll also hear about how they’ve begun using Scrum to run marketing experiments in their ministry work.

Links

Contacting Uttam

Contacting Dave Prior

If you have a question you’d like to submit for an upcoming podcast, please send them to dave.prior@leadingagile.com

And if you’re interested in taking one of our upcoming Certified ScrumMaster or Certified Scrum Product Owner classes, you can find all the details at https://www.leadingagile.com/our-gear/training/

Transcript

Dave Prior:
Hi, this is Dave Prior from LeadingAgile SoundNotes. The podcast you’re about to listen to is a little different than the ones we usually post. At LeadingAgile we believe it’s our responsibility to find ways to give back and to support those who make that the primary focus of their work. One of the ways that we do this is by providing discounted and free seats in our classes to those who serve others. We’ve done this for hospital workers, nonprofit organizations, frontline workers, and other folks who spend their days providing support for others.

Dave Prior:
My guest on this episode of SoundNotes is someone who reached out to us about taking a certified Scrum master course, and when we learned about the work he does, we offered him a seat. His contribution to the class impacted everyone in it. Uttam, who you’ll meet in a moment and I agreed to reconnect a few months after he’d completed the class to talk about how he’d been able to use what he learned. In this interview you’re going to hear about the work that Uttam does supporting orphans and widows from Nepal, how he’s been introducing the tools he learned about in class to those he serves and works with on a daily basis, and how his organization has been using Scrum to improve their social media outreach campaign. I hope you enjoy the interview.

Dave Prior:
Welcome to LeadingAgile SoundNotes. I’m Dave Prior. This is going to be a different kind of a podcast. Usually we talk all about LeadingAgile stuff or questions from students in class, but today this is going to be different because I have somebody who’s taken the classes. Uttam, I’m just going to say GC because that’s what he told me to say. So Uttam, thank you for being here.

Uttam:
Thank you so much. It’s my great privilege to be over here with you and to share what I’ve learned so far.

Dave Prior:
So Uttam reached out a while back and explained what he did and asked about the class and we let him take the class. We created a seat for him because of the work that he’s doing and we wanted to try to support that. And so we’re going to talk about what he’s been doing, what he got out of the class and how he’s been able to apply it in the work that he does. So I don’t want to step on the work that you do, so how do you explain to folks about what you spend your days doing?

Uttam:
I’m involved a lot in the community service works and the ministry works, sharing the gospel. We do work also amongst the orphans and widows and poor communities in Nepal as well. Those are some of my major works trying to help these communities and bringing the good news and gospel as well as support them in their works, because they are very, very much in need in different areas and really see their life blossom.

Dave Prior:
Okay. Well, could you talk for a moment just about the orphans in Nepal and a little bit about what kind things they’re dealing with, what their life is like?

Uttam:
Yes. Nepal is an amazing country. This is very interesting because Nepal has gone through a lot of conflict and wars and is kind of a poverty-stricken country. So there are so many kids, children who are orphans and we’re kind of left there and nobody cares for them. So my heart went out for them and we started the orphan homes. Actually we call it Hope Family, and once the teams are brought and given them, the family, the food and the education, total family environment, we call it a family rather than orphanage. And then we try to help them, give them education and give them everything that really helps them to prepare for the better and bright future. I did that also because when I was a young boy, my father died and that was a great motivation for me to serve among the widows and orphans.

Dave Prior:
And you grew up in Nepal?

Uttam:
Yes, I was born and I grew up in Nepal.

Dave Prior:
Okay. And how long have you been in the states?

Uttam:
In the states, it’s been about five years.

Dave Prior:
Okay. Okay. So you got this ministry and you’re going over, you’re helping the people over there, the widows, the orphans, kind of spreading the word as well. And what about here? How does that play out here because you’re in North Carolina, right?

Uttam:
Yes. I have been now working among the Nepalis and now they are in Nepal or globally. They are what we call them diaspora Nepalis too. And then when I’m over here, I actually support the refugees. There is a huge number of refugees from Bhutan. They are Nepali-speaking refugees as well. So my work is also to help them and to support them. And at the same time that I have been very much involved developing social media and technology to use this in order to help the people in Nepal and also Nepalis globally.

Dave Prior:
Okay. And so I know that there’s been a lot of conflict. That’s still ongoing, right?

Uttam:
There was conflict and there were about 17,000 people killed. The Maoist or the communists tried to take over the country. Actually they are kind of ruling the countries even now. And the political system is extremely unstable right now as well. And then also it’s been terribly in a COVID hit right now as well.

Dave Prior:
Yeah. If you look up news for Nepal or Bhutan, I mean all you see is articles about how bad COVID has gotten over there. I can only hope that they can get some relief soon, get some help.

Uttam:
Yes.

Dave Prior:
Okay. So you reached out because you wanted to take the Scrum class and I’m wondering if you can talk for a little bit about how you discovered Agile and what made you interested in taking the Scrum classes?

Uttam:
Yes. I’m always interested about the Scrum method, so when I’m searching and I found LeadingAgile and reached out to you and wanted to learn more about Scrum. You know, because I work with our people groups and I always wondered how I can really best serve and use the resources we have at our best to have the best in output of our works. So I thought this would be an opportunity to learn more about it because I have done my MBA, so I’ve always been familiar with more of a waterfall method, but this one was sort of new for new for me.

Dave Prior:
Okay. And how have you been able to apply this stuff? For those of you who are listening, Scrum comes out of software. You may not be aware of this, but it’s used well beyond that realm now. There are lots of religious organizations like Jeff Sutherland’s wife has used it a lot with church groups and stuff. So I’m curious within the ministry and the work that you’re doing for the widows and the orphans, how has Scrum or any other agile practices been put into play and how has it helped?

Uttam:
Yes. I think that agile, as it says, is a mindset. You know, it’s not so much of the software or any other thing, it really transcends across every sphere of our life, personal life, work life, workplaces, and everywhere. So what have we actually done? We have implemented that even in the orphan homes helping the kids to use the system in order to be able to get better [inaudible 00:07:52] and be more confident. So we have seen that in a personal life, and we’ve seen that in the family life that it’s really made a difference. And we actually see that in our organizations and the community. So I don’t think that it has to be limited to the IT thing, even though that’s been mostly used right now, but this really goes across everything, every area of our life. Because it’s only a mindset like how we really try to be more productive in the world, which is very unpredictable right now, and very complex as well.

Dave Prior:
So this is one thing that I want to just highlight because a lot of people come to the classes and they feel like maybe they’re in a waterfall organization or whatever, they just don’t see an opportunity to use this stuff. Everybody I know who is a coach or trainer or anybody who’s a practitioner of this, they use it all throughout their lives. So even if you don’t have a team you can work with, keeping a backlog, prioritizing the work, planning the work into sprints, doing retrospectives, even if they’re just retrospectives with yourself where you’re exploring what went well, what didn’t go well, what can I learn from that, how can I get better at being able to show up and be there for people. All of these practices can be employed individually, as well as organizationally, to run all kinds of programs.

Dave Prior:
You’ve mentioned you’ve used it with the work that you’re doing. So what is one, I mean beyond the personal use of it, what’s one thing, program, or one story you could share about how you’ve been able to use some of these practices at work?

Uttam:
Yeah. So one of the things that we are doing with the mission right now, we share good news, the gospel, and we are going more in a social media. We are trying to use social media to reach the mass of people all over the world, especially among the Nepalis. So we use this method in order to develop the content. It’s exactly the same thing like the software product. And then we go through that and use this method and release it in order to learn and make it better. There’s a lot of things that we learned from the seekers or the people who use it and then bring it back and make the product or the content better.

Uttam:
So what we have really seen is that the whole system from the start of the production, content production, and all the way to releasing and publishing it, posting it, we use the same method and then we get their feedback and our results have been amazing and it has reached so many people, and again, make the system much better. So just a little bit more, as I said, this is also a little bit religious or a bit of a mission. We always say that Jesus is the first agile master, was very much a centered to the seekers or people who are looking for something. So we develop our content based on what people are looking for and we try to make the best product based on their needs rather than our own ideas.

Dave Prior:
So I want to say this out loud and please be brutally honest. I want to see if this is an okay thing to say or if this comes across the wrong way. You have a product that you’re selling, you have a customer, and you’re using this approach to understand more about what your customer wants and needs. So, while you have this core mission that you’re trying to achieve in spreading the word of God or whatever. An religion, any kind of ministry would be able to take these practices and find a way to understand more about what their customer wants and a way to be more responsive to their needs in the same way that we would do that with a product.

Uttam:
Yes, exactly.

Dave Prior:
Okay. I was just nervous about saying that out loud because I didn’t want it to seem like I was being too jaded about it, but marketing is part of the job. I mean, you’ve got to get people to come and listen.

Uttam:
Yeah. Right, right. It’s exactly the same. And I think that every time we are selling, we are selling ourselves as well, and our ideas, our thoughts and everything. And when we do that, the audience, the customers, the seekers are the main ones who really consume or who really use what you provide to them. So you only can make those products better if we really listen to them who uses it and develop our product. So it should be the seeker or customer focused and then we can always make it better. It may be in the technology sector, or religious sector, or community sector, even development in all of that. I always say go to the people first, learn from them, get those ideas in order to develop your own products.

Dave Prior:
That’s awesome. So what advice would you give somebody who runs, whether it’s a ministry or a nonprofit or some sort of service organization that is considering trying to adopt agile practices or taking training? What advice would you give them?

Uttam:
Yes, I would say, as I told you earlier, Jesus was the first agile master. So the best way to do the mission, to be productive in a mission, is to use the agile method, which he really says you have to learn everything from the people that you have been to share the gospel to. And they are the major, they are the center of learning so that you can bring the message more productively. And so I think that there should be a big mind shift right now because for those organizations, they’ve always thought that they have the best thing and then they go. They don’t know the culture, they don’t know the language, they don’t know the context. They don’t know what they are looking for. They don’t know their own journey, so they’re missing the point.

Uttam:
So I think that agile would be the best strategy if they want to be very successful in their mission and ministries. I think that everybody, now the churches or other religious organizations should go and take this training in order to revolutionize their own program.

Dave Prior:
That’s great. Thank you. If somebody wants to learn more about the work that you do, what is the best way for them to find you?

Uttam:
Yes. People could find us on the website, hopeweb.org. That’s the one, that is our mission. Also, we have our Facebook, Hope of Life, as well. That’s our Facebook page. But if they want to learn about children and hopehomenepal.org, that’s the orphanage, so they can visit that one as well. And then overall mission, if they visit gcministries.net, they also find us over there as well.

Dave Prior:
All right, I’m going to have to get all these links from you to include, because I only had the GC ministries one. And what if they want to reach out to you? I can see that your contact information is available on the ministry’s website, so I’ll include your email address in here as well so folks can reach out. But thank you for the work that you do and thank you for taking time out to do this. And thanks for coming to the class. It was really great to have you in class and to get that perspective on all this stuff.

Uttam:
Well, we thank you so much for the opportunity to come and share. And what I want to tell you is that you gave me the class, but you are impacting the world, especially among the Nepalis, and those orphans and widows and poor people and people who need to hear the gospel, so all of them, through your help and support, and we have really benefited a lot and you’ve made a difference. Thank you so much.

Dave Prior:
Thank you.

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