Left to my own devices I probably would

You can easily do a half-marathon

Yes I could, but the thing is it would need longer runs. I run with the Running Club Tuesdays and Thursdays before dinner. As a simplified example – if dinner get’s delayed the kids won’t eat as well, then they can’t fall asleep – and will need to eat past their bed time. They will sleep too late, and we (the parents) will have less time to the evening chores and being together. Every time there is something I’d like to do, there is always something else that matters that doesn’t get done.

Come to X-conference – it’s just a matter of priority if you’re one of the ones

Sure, it is – that’s easy for you to say.  But €2000 + travel is out of my private pocket, missing work hours is out of my pocket, being away from family is out of both my time and their time. And really €4000 is a lot of money in a family with two kids with special needs – where the income is one job, one early retired. Also it’s a stupid argument, as I can point to heroes of testing that I consider “one of the ones” that like me aren’t going to both this and that.

I can do a Test Bash, write blog posts* and articles for the Testing Planet etc. 

I can run 14km in 1½ hours. 


(*: and I’ll try to get back to blogging more)

Quote Left to my own devices

and I could
and left to my own devices
I probably would
Left to my own devices
I probably would
Oh, I would



Use case 115: It was a dark and stormy night

Discussing relevance of testcases, user stories and requirements is an age-old challenge in IT development. Sometimes we think we know the usage of our software so much better, than the users – that we laugh and say: That would never be the case. But it may very well be.

The reason for undertaking the largest national construction project is so that the capital region can get fresh milk.” That’s what the minister of transportation said [1] – and boy we laughed. Why would we invest billions, 7 years and 18 km bridge so that one part of the country could supply fresh milk for the other (that had it’s own dairies).

A commercial[2] for a dairy snack (oh the irony) later alleged that this decision was made on an empty stomach[3]. But it wasn’t – with regular ferry service since 1883, the people wanted to cut the time from 90 minutes to 15 minutes, with all the added benefits of increased trade, travel and traffic.

The link opened in 1998 and a stormy night in 2006 the bridge closed for traffic. No big deal – it happens. It so happened that it closed for 22 hours. And hence the ecological milk dairy on the ”countryside” couldn’t deliver milk for the ”capital” side [4]. And the scenario from the minister of transportation had become no laughing matter.

Your user is not you http://www.developsense.com/blog/2013/12/your-user-is-not-you/

The baristas wept as there was no ecological skimmed milk

1: DK video: http://larslars.net/blog/2009/04/derfor-fik-vi-storeb%C3%A6ltsbroen/
2: Similar to this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2UrushQ86I
3: Why being hungry is bad for decision-making http://blog.bufferapp.com/8-things-you-dont-know-are-affecting-your-decisions-every-day
4: DK text: http://www.landbrugsavisen.dk/Landbrugsavisen/2006/5/26/Ingen+frisk+maelk+over+Storebaelt.htm

Quality comes in all shapes and sizes

Quality comes in all shapes and sizes .. like Christmas trees. This Christmas I was out selling trees at the local “shopping center ” with my oldest.Most left with a tree that satisfied the acceptance criteria – explicit as well as implicit – yet still no one came with a requirement spec…

2013-12-14 10.33.55

Heuristics from the merry christmas tree salesmen:

  • The  tree looked at first – is usually returned to and bought
  • Do A/B split testing between one or two trees
  • Too many options makes selecting even more confusing
  • One family’s reject – is another family’s perfect fit
  • Context is important – like how much room inside, how many people, how many kids
  • The closer to deadline – the less options
  • No one notices the wicked branches, when the music plays and the tree is lit
  • After christmas it doesn’t matter how picky you were with the details

A young woman came to us looking a bit puzzled – she had never bought a tree herself, and the tree been bought was not for her. All she knew was that she had volunteered to do charity help to a down-and-out family. They wanted a tree for christmas – but could not themselves. I can only guess that this specific christmas tree was the family’s perfect tree. The cost didn’t matter to the young woman at all – but the implicit value even more.

Many decisions are never about the monetary (sunk) costs. Hence your customer makes seemingly odd decisions – and that’s OK. 

See also: Acceptance criteria are more than what can be measuredLook for Minimum Viable TestingWithout Timing – Quality, Schedule and Cost is nothingValue of Information for Decisions , 16 points that may rock the boatWhen do testing happen? Are you looking too hard

Uncovering better ways

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

Continue reading

To scale even agile needs governance

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.

2013-10-30 15.21.48

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?


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

16 points that may rock the boat

8 Things You Don’t Know Are Affecting Our Choices Every Day: The Science of Decision Making ]

  • Why we accept the default choice
  • Why we make worse decisions over time
  • Why we make better decisions in the morning
  • Why we make better decisions in a foreign language
  • Why being hungry is bad for decision-making
  • Why a full bladder helps us make better choices
  • Why ventilation is important for good decision-making
  • Why leaning to the left affects your choices

8  Qualities Of A Truly Loyal Employee ]

  • she displayed the highest form of loyalty by helping you avoid missing the “do the right thing” forest for the “do it right now” trees.
  • they ask the questions or raise the important issues when others won’t.
  • Employees that praise and recognize others, especially when it’s not their job to do so, don’t just display great interpersonal skills.
  • Weighing the positives and negatives of a decision, sharing conflicting opinions, playing devil’s advocate… disagreement is healthy. It’s stimulating. It leads to better decisions.
  • when you’re loyal, every decision is, ultimately, your own.
  • truly loyal employees realize that while you may not like what you hear, ultimately you want to hear it because what matters most is doing what is best
  • Well-intended silence can be a good sign of loyalty; speaking up, especially when it’s awkward or even painful to do so, can be the best sign.
  • they help you prepare to fill the hole they create.

Related Can you help me? , In a star team – the team gets the starsEven a self-acclaimed guru breaks the rulesEstablish yourself as an expert or thought leader I know it is your job – but thank you anyway

Learn to think like a business

The Evolving Skill Set of Tomorrow’s Top Testers | Scott Barber | Ministry of Testing ]

it is a career-limiting mistake for testers to ignore opportunities to develop a sound knowledge of how businesses operate and the skills necessary to ensure that testing supports business decision making.

 It’s not the job of a tester to make quality-related decisions. That’s what Project and Product Managers get paid to do. Testers should be focused on identifying the business risks that managers need to be making decisions about.

 If lots of bugs are making it to our radar it makes us think that someone isn’t doing their job. What we care about is mitigating risk while delivering a salable product as quickly and cheaply as possible. Time and energy spent dealing with bug reports detract from that goal.

We need information to make high-level business decisions. We need to know “Are we on track to deliver what we promised when we promised with acceptably low risk?”

When times are tight, businesses take more risks. Sure it’s risky to ship software that is under-tested, but it’s less risky than running out of money before anything gets shipped due to the additional time and expense of testing.

Seek to understand what makes businesses successful. Learn to think like a business executive (at least sometimes) when you are testing. Understand business risk management and the reality that as a tester, you are a cost center, not a profit center. No one (in their right mind) wants to have to pay for testing – sure they want the information, but they’d rather not have to pay for it, so you’ve got to make sure that information is valuable in their eyes.


Related: Align conference selection and business strategyPragmatic choices of what is important and possibleLook for Minimum Viable Testing ,

Value of Information for Decisions