Sunday 12 February 2017

European Testing Conference 2017

Back from European Testing Conference I would like to share how it went.

About the Programme.
When you go to conferences, usually you get plenty of talks, and maybe accidentally you could get to know other people, at coffee breaks or lunch breaks and so on, sometimes people say that those coffee breaks were the best part of the conferences.

This one is organized the other way, you will get to know people because of a lot of chances are being planned for this to happen, and at some point you will also get to a talk.

How do they make this happen, well, there must be a plan...
- Speed Meeting just right after starting the event, where you get to know 4 or 5 other random fellows for 4 minutes. Each one of us was asked to draw a mindmap about ourselves and share it with the person we had in front to start the conversation. Doing this at the beginning of the conference was setting the right tone of what was about to happen.
- Open Space sessions, where anyone could propose whatever subject they wanted to talk about and people would gather around to talk.
- Speaker dinner the night before the event started, in a very informal mood, but feeling like at home, cosy and simple, with food, drinks and sauna, all Finnish style. I got the chance to talk with some of the other speakers, spend the evening with them, and the conference was yet to start.
- Conference dinner, the organization provided everybody with a free drink brochure (in Finland this means money!), so after the talks of the first day we went to the pub where each of us could as whatever dinner we wanted.
- Coffee break after every talk, so Finish people would get their hourly dose of the black elixir that keeps them running.
- Test lab, where people could sit around devices and try to understand the patterns that they were following.

About the Keynotes.
We got 4 great inspiring talks, for all the attendees, to understand where we are, what software is about, why we need to be brave, step up, do things, change things.
None of these talks were just a demonstration about how smart the speaker was, or how wrong something was getting done, they were all about understanding yourself and drive your own change in one way or another.
Sometimes at a conference, talks seem to be like painting a wall, changing whatever was there before and putting a tick layer of information that wasn't there, while other talks connect with what you  knew and understood, and help you putting words and structure to beliefs you already had, like lighting a dark tunnel wall with a lantern, so new details and textures come into your attention.
The keynotes we had were of this second types of talks.

About the Organization.
I went to this conference invited as a speaker, they paid me my travelling expenses, the stay & breakfast at the hotel and a entry to the tutorials that were happening the day before the conference.
Also, they paid these expenses as soon I sent the receipts. 

I never seen this before. It has been a privilege for me to attend as a speaker, thank you.

About the Inspiring Women.
With 3 out of 4 keynotes led by women, this wasn't a event only for women, but nicely organized by many of them, and in a different way.
At the end of the event, I have the feeling that I had witnessed some moments, where some women were thanking others for the inspiration they found on the work they have produced, and this was happening in front of other younger women, serving as an example, showing the path as somebody to imitate and to get inspired by.
And at the same time, admitting that they are far from being 'perfect' in the sense of what society defines about being 'perfect' for a woman.
This was beautiful, and in my experience in testing conferences... unusual.

About the learnings,
in no particular order...

Be yourself, be brave, stand for what you believe and for who you are. 

Be a team player, support your team and explore the possibilities you have.

Explore the world, there are many of them out there, be it the Testing community, the Tech industry, contribute and explain what is important to you as a tester.

Cultivate and take care of yourself, nobody else will.

If you feel like writing, and you don't know where to start, here is a sample of ideas. Pick one and give it a try.
When planning for Exploratory Testing, have in mind that you might want to choose between different kind of sessions. Not all are the same, and not all of them produce the same results.

 There are three kind of software, depending on the interaction with their environment, and each require a different approach when it comes to testing.

You think Exploratory Testing is a unstructured approach? well, here you have 20 different ways to structure it.

While testing, observe the different testing activities that you perform, write them down and understand how you do your testing.

If you are using test cases, here is an alternative structure that you could try.

 Understand you role as a tester, there could be more than you think.

 Do you have difficulties to explain how do you do your testing? here is an idea why.

Understand Cynefin as a way to understand different stages of a problem, and then pick a problem, like exploratory testing, or testing estimation, or team interactions, and apply this model.

About my talk.
The talk went well, and maybe the only thing I didn't like were the last 5 minutes. I wanted to finish my talk on time, so people could go for a coffee, but also I wanted to say, that when you are working in a project as a tester, it is important that you understand that you work with information, to try new ways to get this information, and to understand all who could benefit from having it, and to be brave and try out new approaches if the existing ones are not good enough.
But given the rest of the talks, this has been said way better than I would, so at least I took my time to tell my story.

So, if you like to get to know people when you go to conferences instead of just attending to lots of talks, if you are okay having a dinner in a pub instead of a gala dinner, if you would like to participate instead of just attending, if you like coffee, then European Testing Conference 2018 in Amsterdam would be something for you to consider.
Thank you, it has been a pleasure.

Friday 3 February 2017

Finishing my European Testing Conference talk.

Great talks have the power to motivate people, they motivate me.

These days I'm busy getting ready my talk for the European Testing Conference. One of the slides that is getting me into trouble is the one about where did I get the inspiration for the story.

Do I put the slide before or after the 'Thank you!' slide that closes the talk...
if I put it after, nobody reads it.
if I put it before, I need to drive away from my story to get here and I don't really like how it flows.

So by now, I'll post it here.

My talk is about how I managed to test a high peak in our business, for this I can point to certain works that helped me a lot figuring out what path to follow.

Rob Lambert, and his Nordic Testing Days 2015 talk "Why remaining Relevant is so Important" is one I went back a couple of times. If you believe that being brave is a good asset for a tester, I invite you to check this talk.

Antony Marcano wrote a blog post about Special Forces and Agile Teams. I liked the analogy, and it helped me understand that if I was going to be a team lead, or a retrospective facilitator, or I was going to record a video or setup a rapberry pi to show production performance data in real time, it was because at that very moment, it was the best service I could provide the team.

James Bach presented some time ago his Low Tech Testing Dashboard. This is something I used to be able to clearly communicate the state of the testing we were doing, what was the plan and the progress we were making.
James also has a good text about Test Jumpers, but my case didn't exactly reflect in his story, maybe because I'm not an external contractor, just a tester in my team, but I took some parts of his concept.

The idea of the map, as a analysis document has been discussed in Joep Schuurkes talk: Helping the New Tester to Get a Running Start.

All talks and posts converge on the idea of how diverse the actions of a skilled tester can be, on how to quickly understand what is happening and take decisions.

This work, the notes I took while we were in the project, and a stop at a nice café everyday on my way to the office, is how I managed to build up this talk.

See you in Helsinki.

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