Here – have some of my power

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One of the ways I lead the team of testers in my project is through delegation of power from my own role…

1) A test manager in my group asks guidance. The members in the project team does not reply her requests or give her the information she needs. As a test manager in the project she does have the theoretic power, but not the practical power… I send her back with all my powers – to tell them that because I said so, they should respect her. I don’t mind taking “stars” of my shoulders and giving the power of my role and position to someone junior to me.

2) A tester on my project team approaches me to ask for permission to create tasks on our task board. I immediately grant her a “do every thing you need to do, without asking“-permission. By all means take the initiative and ownership. I probably fail to manage everything, so we need to work together on this. By all means go ask the developer, create test cases, find things we didn’t know – think.. and test.

Sometimes I think, this is perhaps a Danish “equality” culture – but then I realize it is a collaborate approach for the modern knowledge worker. It works equally well with people from both India, Denmark, Philippines and China.

My style is not to CONTROL – but to facilitate KNOWLEDGE. In my team the team is the star

vikings

It all starts with an odd piece

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One of my coworkers had gotten himself a LEGO 10242 MINI Cooper, and by the help of the other consultants it had been build (to spec?). We look over the remaining pieces and discuss how come. All the 1×1 plates are quite expected, there are extras of these because the weights aren’t that precise and the pieces are cheap. Also customers easily loose them, so it’s cheaper to send some extra than to handle through customer service. On BrickLink inventory there is even a fan made list of the usual extra items….

But an extra black 2×4 plate – naa. That’s odd.. And surely it missed on the bottom of the car. I had prior knowledge .. but have not built this exact set.

Now I have another hunch that the two gray 1×3 tiles and 1×1 dark green bricks in to the rear are missing somewhere. A good thing those consultants have a test department, one could say…  Still the pieces seem not to be 1-CRITICALLY missing, so the model is DONE and accepted. So even if the LEGO tester gets to ask “what if” – we have to remember to hear the answer to “does it matter” – even if it is our favorite hobbyhorse

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Chicken for Christmas – Tradition is a choice

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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!

The superpower that things will sort themselves out

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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 boys 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 him 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

Bugs Happens

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There is no such thing as bug free solutions. Zero defects – is just human definition of what a defect is – oh, and the acceptance criteria of no severity 1-critical defects, is always negotiable. Acceptance of the delivery may be outside the test result… You always find things, you always choose how to handle them. There is always a threshold on what you want to fix. What sets you apart from others is HOW you handle the unexpected issues you DO find.

Google has Canary builds, Spotify their chaos monkeys, others have continuous delivery. Some even test in the Wild. How you choose to handle the things discovered is – a choice, similarly as it is a choice to handle them at all.

In all business environments errors happen – even or context new issues / bugs / defects / findings / incidents… happens, when you evaluate (test) a solution. Even in the strictest GxP Pharma validation there will be situations that is not specifically on par with the reviewed and approved scripts. Even the best CMMi or ISO29119 accredited company will stumble into new information, or test only limited subsets of total coverage.

If you fail to prepare for the unexpected – you chose poorly.

choose

What is the purpose of meeting?

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If all you bring to the meeting is what you have prepared in advance – what new do you learn by meeting?

I once was at a company that should have the motto “always prepared”, “semper fi” and “errors are not an option”. Every meeting had a check sheet, a resume form and a registration of preparation time. Because if it wasn’t measured it didn’t count. If it wasn’t in the play book it didn’t count either.

So one day we sat at the meeting reviewing a development story – the developer, an architect, me and the other roles required by the check sheet. Some had prepared written comments: everything from simple rephrasing, code changes and test case headlines. Some had not prepared a tangible thing – I had not.

So the interesting question came up: why meet at all, if the only purpose of the meeting was to go through the written changes. These could be sent directly to the developer or discussed bilaterally, and not heard by all five. The answer to this was not in the play book, and the meeting was puzzled.

I had prepared nothing in advance, yet I had prepared myself in advance to listen, think and wonder during the meeting. To me the purpose of meeting* was the joint collaboration of the participants.

The sum of the whole. That 1+1+1+1 can be five.

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*: meetings can have other purposes. Sometimes I hold orientation/elaboration meetings, when things cannot be elaborated sufficiently digitally.

Do things the right way – my way!

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I can be obnoxious, arrogant, mister know-it-all and devil’s advocate – that seem to only want it done my way “the right way”. Like Skipper in this clip from the Penguins of Madagascar series battling Gus*: They both want this done the right way:

Sometimes this just the way I am – sometimes I even do it on purpose. Usually it’s my way of challenging what is being discussed – let me rephrase: I am testing, I am wondering, I come with counter examples, I articulate that testing is a business choice – that there are always more angles to it.

My personally preferred way is to test and think based on values – but explicit and intrinsic. I know testers that are way more process driven that I am, and more detail oriented too. That’s what makes the testing field great – we are a diverse bunch. But hey, that’s okay. We all have our own personal styles, and all styles are needed.

When I’m testing and challenging I’m prepared that I say something wrong. That my suggestion get’s rejected, that is part of the game. I probably know it’s not the 100% correct question in context. If you see only a challenger, you see only half of a testers competence. And you are reading her wrong.

I am ambitious to get the job done and devoted to advance, develop the testing craft of the company, myself and the testing community. My way to do this can be to speak boldly or to throw articles, stories and external information at you. Much like the Penguins throw everything but the kitchen skin at Gus. If you see only your own silver bullet, that is a shame – acknowledge my feedback and I am yours.

*: “Work order” is on the DVD “Operation Antarctica”.

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