Uncovering better ways

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I am uncovering better ways of developing solutions - by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work I have come to value:

  • Apply the costs to add business value – over cutting costs
  • Being flexible and open  – over adding predictability 
  • Providing information for decisions – over ensuring the reliability
  • Solving the right problem - over solving it the right way 
  • Seeing the end result - over being nit-picky and detail orientd
  • Suggesting examples and cases – over having one-size fits all  
  • Do something good enough – over doing something perfectly  
  • Get something shipped – over achieving total coverage  
  • Being prepared for change – over following a script  
  • Share information and connections – over hoarding and hiding 
  • Appreciate good efforts – over taking things for granted 
  • Trust and empower people – over controlling
  • To lead and help – over managing
  • Challenge and question – over keeping quit
  • Suggest and discuss privately – over critiquing publicly
  • Being empathic  - over focussing on rightfulness
  • Quality as a relationship - over quality as fixed attributes
  • Training and mentoring - over certifications

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, I value the items on the left more.

  1. The value of any practice depends on its context.
  2. There are good practices in context, but there are no best practices.
  3. People, working together, are the most important part of any project’s context.
  4. Projects unfold over time in ways that are often not predictable.
  5. The product is a solution. If the problem isn’t solved, the product doesn’t work.
  6. Good software testing is a challenging intellectual process.
  7. Only through judgment and skill, exercised cooperatively throughout the entire project, are we able to do the right things at the right times to effectively test our products.

engineer

Software is a knowledge storage medium

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Key takeaways from [ Presentation: "ǝnןɐʌ: Why we have it backwards" Track: When the Agile Manifesto isn't enough  | Shmuel Gershon | GOTO 2013]. Special mention for the best hand-made/home-made slides – get them here.

Software is a knowledge storage medium 

Think about it – where do you have your know-how, your calendar, your to-do list, google it… IT is the digital tool we use to store our knowledge, to enable us to do the things we want to do. Shmuel has a great historic overview over the evolution of places to store knowledge. IT and software as of now has among other things the ability to be updated fast, to tell about the intention of the solution, the ability to self-modify and change the outside world directly. 

We can start using the word knowledge more:

Value is often to learn something new

tractor

To scale even agile needs governance

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Key takeaways from [ "Why Agile doesn't scale, and what you can do about it" | Dan north (@tastapod) | GOTO Aarhus 2013 ] If you want the full version see his full slide deck here.

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Being agile is about getting something out the door – it’s very good in doing SHIP IT - Tweak it – think it build it. Wax on – wax off. Being agile is about people and tools  and is a great approach for problems that allows to be solved with these borders.

The challenge is in the more complex  domains with a bigger solution, a bigger problem, a bigger program with many people, many dependencies, many teams. In these (NP?) problem domains other factors come into play: Governance, Customers, Money and the organization as a whole (see slides regarding Agile Adoption Patterns).

In the later contexts agile as a delivery model doesn’t scale without project governance and portfolio management to oversee and prioritize based on strategic returns on investment. Shipping any minimum viable product from time to time in a larger context requires more oversight on “are we nearly there?” “are we ensuring delivery?” “are we ensuring credibility?” .. are the many global teams going agile in each their direction?

The same goes for the testing efforts – agile scales to a certain point, and at that point the scrums, the state-models and so on are a part of the solution engine. It’s what’s tests something, but with size comes the need to know why we make the decisions we make – and  are we there yet?

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Disclaimer: GOTO Aarhus 2013 is sponsoring my attendance as a blogger.

On applying a single method

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Simon Wardley, Leading Edge ForumOh not again - should we be an agile or six sigma shop? ]

First, every system of any reasonable scale consists of multiple components. Those components are all evolving (due to the effects of competition) and you can (and should) map out the components of any system before embarking on trying to build it. Below in figure 1 is a basic map from a heavy engineering project with a large IT component

Now, all the components are evolving from left to right and as they do so their characteristics change – they move from an uncharted space (the novel, the chaotic, unpredictable, uncertain, potential differential) to the more industrialised (the common, appearance of linear order, the predictable, the certain, the cost of doing business). 

The same thing with your testing – that is: If you dare to take a holistic approach and not only focus on the mechanics. See also:  Mapping testing Competencies , Learn to think like a businessWhen do testing happen? 3D model for testing contexts Black or white – it is the same box

Are you looking too hard

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When you are looking for the blue brick – stop and look for the red one – and the blue turns up.

When you are fighting – stop and look – are you going to win the war, but lose the piece

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When it smells fishy, there is something fishy going on

More than carrots and sticks

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motivation

There is more to motivation than carrots and sticks – or in the case of the image above: Gold and rotten potatoes.

  • The poor farmer above had his potato harvest fail, and he had to move driven by fear, hunger, despair - at being targeted for outplacement…. as modern management speak would label depleted human resources.
  • The wise guy with the pickaxe is out for the rewards of the gold. Out for the cheat and greed of the quick fix. He though fails to deliver in the long run. His balanced score card is loaded for the current budget – containing only my, myself and I.
  • Lady Liberty in the back as a symbol of opportunities and unknown rewards. A New Hope. I doubt that many immigrants of the days ever visited the monument in the turmoil – it remained only a beacon…

 So what has this got to do about testing? 

Motivating people is very much about leading testers. But the three “personas” above might also inspire in thinking about things to test:

- Where are the burning platforms?

- Where are the quick rewards?

- Where are the long-term rewards?

If you are not Alan Page – go see RSA Animate – Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

Reframing the five levels of know-how

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Have you heard about snow plow testing yet?

Have you googled it?

What did you do with the search results?

[ Recognise and Acknowledge Your Skills  | Ministry Of Testing - The Testing Planet | June 2013]

This 5 level rating of skills is nothing new, and perhaps you use a rating with more or less steps in your context. Perhaps it’s very detailed, with very discrete steps – or perhaps it’s just a guideline, a floating value between “a little” and “a lot”.

  Google level  Snow plow testing
Level 0 – No knowledge I’ll haven’t searched it Never heard of it
Level 1 – Mentee I searched – and read the results page Heard of it, can do with help
Level 2 – Independent I read the linked material Can do without help
Level 3 – Mentor I wrote the material being found Can teach others
Level 4 – Mastery I search for new practices Focus on contexts

2013-01-26 19.05.11

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