Monday, August 22, 2016

Team Tourism! It's a thing!

In the last few months of my life, there has been a lot of change. I started my own testing consultancy and most of my days have consisted of meeting people and trying to figure out my elevator pitch. I have been feeling like I am spending most of my time in the Chaos zone.
After receiving our Team Tourism passports at the Driven Alliance Unconference, I realised that there may just be a moment of escape and perhaps a transforming idea or two. Travel does this for me… .and now I could do some ‘travelling’ right here in my own town! :)

I emailed Oz and asked If I could come and visit the Keyblade Team at Firstrand as my first destination. I arrived just after 9 so I could be in time for an intro before their standup.
When I walked into the Keyblade team room these are the things I noticed -
  • The room felt like a calm space - I felt good energy
  • There were 2 MASSIVE awesome TV screens with multiple keyboards in front of them
  • There was a monitor with 3 red blocks on it
  • Some blue balls around the room (to sit on)
  • An interesting looking scrum board with not that many stickies on it
I was introduced to the team (many of whom I already knew) and we went on a coffee mission. They have really good coffee… and an amazing coffee machine.
Oz talked me through the board and explained how they run the standup.
Standup happened and people spoke about the work…  and there was some nice banter in between. They have a format for their standup which I liked a lot -
  1. What’s broken and why?
  2. Anything we’ve learned and would like to share?
  3. Walk the board (talk to the actual work)
  4. What’s not on the board?
  5. Can we deploy?
  6. What’s the next most important thing we’ll be working on today?

The team then picked the first problem for the mob and we got going. I was IN the mob. Listening and trying to ask questions where I thought it might be useful. I was able to get a feel for the problem and the troubleshooting of it. So many good things about a mob.. That is a whole other post.

I spent a day with the team and the things I saw, make me think that this team is biasing themselves for greatness. They have created an environment where they are constantly thinking about how they can -
  • Respond to the business
  • Experiment and fail fast
  • Write solid maintainable code paying attention to testability
  • Share their knowledge
  • Have fun
  • Self organise
  • Use time effectively
  • Respect everyone’s contribution to the team

I think that context matter. The more I can study the principles that are important across contexts and the context specific practices that people use to address these principles, the better chance I have to notice when things are not optimal. I also want to have a box of experiments to pull from to try and make them different. I think this is what everyone can get from a bit of tourism. Also, the more we can share our ideas and experiences, the better chance I think we have of moving the craft forward.

So find a team today and start getting some stamps in that passport and ideas in the toolbox!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Get inspired, join a community, work on your technical skills, play games, write a book!! Let's Test has something for everyone!

Being a tester is not always easy. It sometimes feels like we are swimming upstream and it is a lot more fun swimming with friends. There is a difference between trying to learn things from reading and adapting, and having these things brought to life by people who have tried things and had experience and are super excited to share.
About 6 years into my testing career I managed to convince my boss to send me to CAST (Conference for the Association of Software Testing). I am an introvert. While the thought of talking to a bunch of strangers and being in large groups of people, was incredibly daunting, the chance of meeting and learning from great minds in testing, forced me to get out my comfort zone. My first day was a tutorial session with James Bach. Someone whose work I had studied, and pored over, and attempted to use and adapt on a daily basis in my testing. James was teaching heuristics and we were encouraged to write our own. A scary task when you know you will need to share your thoughts with all those strangers!!!! A heuristic that eventually came to mind was 'Slowly, slowly, catch monkey'. I described what I meant, and it resonated. In the painful moment of feeling alone and overwhelmed, I got to meet testers from all over the world who were in a very similar position to me. That was the beginning. We bonded. They became my friends and part of my testing community. They introduced me to other testers. We formed a 'gang'. We talked over Skype and supported each other and sat talking testing until all hours of the morning. I realised that there were people with a similar passion. We could discuss our experiences and debate our thinking and move our craft forward. It was an experience that would change my career forever.

This is what we want to bring a lot closer to home for all testers in SA. We want you all to know that you are not alone, that there are people right here who share your passion and want to move the craft forward. They will be at Let's Test. You should be there too!