A Story About Lifting People Up

This article is a parable, it’s not a traditional testing post. But as with all parables, this is a story to reflect on. It comes with all the best and noble intentions. [TW: semi-religious content].

There once was this person named Zach. Well, the name is really not so important. It could have been Dilek, Kim, Brie, or Latoya. Zach’s job was to collect fees among the community members – a service job for the benefit of the community. It could, as well, have been removing spam, sorting, and organizing content. And onboarding new people to the community. Menial work, which could be a hassle to the others – yet important for the community to run.

Reflection: What glue work gets taken for granted where you are?

But, there is no doubt Zach had cut some corners along the way. After all, that’s just the way business was done sometimes, thought Zach. And because of that, the fancy people of the community ignored and dispised Zach even more.

To make matters worse, Zach was not as tall as the others. You could say, that Zach didn’t have the same attributes as many of the others. And that made Zach feel further diminished and small in the eyes of the community. And that probably added to Zach’s cheating. Nothing Zach did was ever really recognized.

Reflection: who is putting in an extra effort to be seen?

One day a superstar and thought leader was present in the community. Everyone in the community gathered around and engaged. There was a buzz going on and Zach wanted to be a part of it. But it was still a burden for Zach to engage. Zach had to make an extra-extra effort just to catch what was going on.

Suddenly the superstar called out: Hey Zach! I see you. I will come to join you where you are. And so he did. The superstar joined Zach, the menial fee collector. Zach pledged to be a better person and has been since. Zach is now sharing surplus energy with the others in the community and has made up for the wrongdoing previously done.

Reflection: Are you meeting people where they are? How can you lift people up that are not seen?

Something About Leadership

17yo: Dad, do you not know how old I am - and what I can do myself? 
Me: Oh, I know buddy. As you are learning new stuff, I am unlearning to help you

While this quote from my kitchen about a week ago, as all to do with the young man learning the ropes of life and me unlearning to always to help them and their 15yo sibling out – there is an key parallel to leadership and building self reliance in teams. My role these days are less about direction and (micro)managing a team of testers on a project, more about enabling others to succeed with their testing both in the delivery teams and in the board room.

Continue reading

Relations – are about half of IT

You can’t have IT projects without relations. Relations matter more than it seem.

Continue reading

First Rule of Summer

My first rule of summer vacation is: Eat an ice cream every day. It could be bought, it can come from the freezer on boxes or on sticks – or it can be a Sun Lolly (Brain freeze). It’s a treat, sometimes days it’s a trip – other days served while watching a movie. There is also a price issue… unfortunately. Sometimes I say very sternly that it’s time for ice cream. They find the stern voice it hilarious when it’s something they do like. Crazy daddy – do it again.

mad-brain

Remember to make your vacation days special – celebrate with treats (edible and others). Check out from work completely and let time fly. Sign out from work emails. Keep the work bosses and game bosses and bad thoughts at bay with an ice cream a day.

Writing myself a new car

I honor of the World Autism Awareness Day 2017: I have reward systems for myself and my two sons with autism. The principles are as follows:

  • Reward the behavior we want more of. Don’t reward required activities, but reward when we choose to do help with chores. Ignore when we choose not to, do not remove credits.
  • Rewards are things you would not get otherwise. Verbal praise and encouragement are given even so. You have to earn it – and get it when you finalize (a deal is a deal).
  • We use token economy and postponed gratification. Training for the mash mellow test improves forward thinking.
  • Rewards are usually LEGO. Specific piece request from Bricklink.  Every token/mark is a ten’er (DKR 10).

The teenagers (13+11) have been rewarded for doing the dishes, preparing food, taking out the garbage etc. Initially 15 tokens gave a trip to McDonalds, but as mastering progressed the rewards became bigger. One time 50 tokens/marks was needed for a reward. The options to help (“The Mark Menu”) was at one point over 20 chores. Over time they lost interest in saving but did the chores anyway, so some of the chores where made required. One day the oldest added “Do not fight” to the list of required (non-rewarding) activities 😉 Next up is to save for a game on Steam..

I’m being rewarded every time I run (5K, outside. Half a mark for treadmill), for my morning exercises and a few other thing I struggle with. I have just finished a sheet of 140 marks that I worked on since September 2016). The new target is to buy myself first a Bugatti and then a McLaren. Not a new minivan..

I am going to write myself a new car

I hope this drives the right behavior

Similar posts on leadership and praise at work: In a star team – the team gets the starsI know it is your job – but thank you anyway

Similar posts on autism: Pragmatic choices of what is important and possibleStakeholders,

Similar posts on drive and motivation: More than carrots and sticks, 16 points that may rock the boat

Chicken for Christmas – Tradition is a choice

TL;DR: Testing is always something that we choose to do – and how we test is similarly a matter of choice. As is Christmas traditions. .. it’s just man-made rules, we can choose to change them.

So I was discussing what we should have for Christmas with the stakeholders. One of them wants the traditional rice pudding, the other wants – untraditionally: chicken. And you know what – that’s ok. Traditions are guidelines, not rules – we can make new traditions, just by choosing to.

Testing in production used to be a great no-no. I’m still feeling odd when we do it, but I have come to see it as another tool of the trade. It has a name now “testing in the wild” TTitW as has been presented at EuroStar 2015. Also this is how Netflix have been testing for years, from GitHub, as it is open source too (!).

You might argue that changing testing (in the wild) is not allowed. I will challenge that assumption – being allowed to do something is a choice too. You choose to follow the the process frameworks, requirements, rules… and you can choose not to. The tradition of manual predefined testcases are so four years ago!

Sometimes it’s just a matter of saying up-front, that you are tailoring the process. So choose an approach that actually gives meaning and value to the stakeholders and context. Deconstruct the traditions and commercial bodies of knowledge and make some new!

http://www.eurobricks.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=64241
http://www.eurobricks.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=64241

The superpower that things will sort themselves out

Amongst my secret weapons are intuition, square lashings, preparing for the unexpected

… and that things will sort themselves out.

For instance:

  • I had planned to step into the parents group (aka PTA, aka forældrerådet) in one of my kids classes. But the day of the election meeting, I was pretty stressed and missed the meeting. Now a couple of months later, there’s a free spot, and I could step in and be very welcome.
  • At work I saw my boss had assigned me a new project for next month. I missed to talk to them about it, but when came around to it – the project allocation had been cancelled.

So recently I have come to value: letting things sort themselves out OVER looking into everything. THAT IS while there is value on preparing everything, I value the first opportunity more.  You might think of it of being sloppy, unprepared and not even tester like.. your loss… What is your secret weapon then?

dad blackbelt

Diversity is important for testing, prejudice isn’t

I want the field of testing to have high diversity

  • Different personality types:
    • we need people to get ideas, and people to finish them
    • We need people to see the strategic view, and people to get into the details
  • Different backgrounds
    • We need people that can code
    • We need people that understand the business domain
  • Different business domains
    • We need testers in the field of software development
    • We need testers in the field of IT / ITIL service delivery
    • We need device testers, embedded software testers….
    • We need testers that understand the GxP regulations
    • We need testers that understand rapid and agile delivery
  • Different people
    • Parents, singles, people with kids and without
    • Young people, experienced people
    • People who take it as a lifestyle, and people to whom it’s just a job

…most of all people. People who knows that things can be done in many ways. Let’s get rid of the prejudices that testing is for the detailed and i-dotting only. Testing is about bringing information to the stakeholders about what works and what doesn’t – it’s never about “failure is not an option”.

Recently I was required to do a Cubiks Problem solving test. It’s a 12 minute online test in word patterns, calculations and geometric patterns. Apparently I “failed” to complete all in time, but had a high degree of right answers, so my score was “average” #whatever. That apparently made me perfect to the testing area… OH NO – it only tells you that I put pride in my own work. Everything else is pure speculation and prejudice, as mentioned by Gerry Weinberg in Psychology of Intelligent Problem Solving there is a challenge with these kinds of tests for problem solving – they test, but not for problem solving.

Testing is about solving problems – business problems. Like can we ship?

See also:

Read for your kids – special interest edition

If you are a parent to (early) school children you should know that it is important to read  to your kids. Reading the words out trains vocabulary, recognition, imagination, wondering etc etc. So I read subtitles from movies… because

The kids currently have Star Wars as their special interest [1], and wanted to see the “people” movies. The have played the scenes via the LEGO Video Games (GC) and have a range of the LEGO sets – so they had the basic plot already. Feature movies like Star Wars are usually subtitled in Denmark – while animation movies are dubbed [2]. So in order both to keep up with “PG” [3] and helping them read the titles – I get to watch the movies and read the subtitles…

Poor daddy, it’s almost as hard as when they has to finish the ice cream they can’t 😉

In the last months the (soon to be) 9yo have cracked the reading code and have gone from LIX11 books to the shorter subtitles. The 11yo have rest covered, but some of the longer texts are tricky (I’m looking at you – opening Scroll).

2015-04-04 16.51.08

I tried reading Harry Potter (in Danish) but even if the story was very elaborate and detailed it didn’t catch their interest. Neither did classics from when I was a kid (Sorry Bjarne Reuter), so I had to rethink the acceptance criteria for “read for your kids“.

See these two kids are not as easily motivated – it has to tie into something they can see a direct interest in. Their autism makes them very picky on the choice of subject. What I try is to meet them where they are, expand their competencies and give them a lot of positive feedback until they master it on their own.

Links: The yardstick of mythical normalityAcceptance is more than what can be measured

  1. special interest, as in overly dedicated into the topic and cannot talk about anything else.
  2. The Danish “dubbers” are usually world class, luckily.
  3. Episode 3 is still to come, though.