The Shift-Coach Testing Trend

Shift-Coach is when testers and test managers trends towards being coaches and facilitators of the testing activities. Shift-Coach is more about leading the testing than leading the testers to paraphrase from @DevToTest Joe DeMeyers blog post.

The ground breaker for this trend, is to me, the talk “How I Lost My Job As a Test Manager” presented at Test Bash 2015 by Stephen Janaway. Stephen explains how reorganization of the test manager role forced him to be more a facilitator than embedded in the teams. Similarly many other great test managers talk more and more about people skills and coaching, especially in agile projects. I want to define shift-coach around the facilitation testing activities, and place testers that doubles as scrum masters in the Shift-Deliver trend.

In traditional (v-model) projects testing has often included people that were not professional testers; – in user acceptance tests this has often been business subject matter experts. The testing was done by someone with the best knowledge of the topic, and that may not have been the professional tester. That more and more projects do this – more and more, is a big challenge for many testing folks. But it is a significant trend in testing world of 2016.

Shift-Coach trend is visible when Alan Page  talks at Test Bash Philly 2016:

You’ve heard the rumors, and you’ve seen it happen. An organization or development team decides they don’t need testers, and you have big questions and massive concerns. Is quality not important anymore? Are they irresponsible or idiotic? Are their hats on too tight? Do testers still have jobs?

Alan Page is a career tester who has not only gone through the “no-tester” transition, he’s taking it head on and embracing it. Alan will share experiences, stories, strategies, and tactics (and failures) on how he’s taken everything he’s learned in over twenty years of software testing, and used those skills to have an impact on software engineering teams at Microsoft. Whether you’re going through this transition yourself, think it may be coming, or just want to tell someone what an absurd idea this is, this is the talk for you.

This trend goes along with Shift-Right, Shift-Left and Shift-Deliver discussed separately. I discussed these trend labels at Nordic Testing Days 2016 during the talk “How to Test in IT operations“ and coined the labels on the EuroStar Test Huddle forum.

legocoach
Drive the Testing – Coach!
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More than carrots and sticks

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

Mapping testing Competencies

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

The below model is directly inspired by the Vancouver Agile Quadrant introduced in “Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams” by Crispin and Gregory 2009 based on the original matrix from Brian Marick in 2003. It consists of four primary branches – as seen on the illustration. It is not a matrix or a table, but four directions with each their cloud of buzzwords. For specific contexts a mind-map will be a better choice of illustration – try drawing your own competencies.

Tester Skills Matrix
Tester Skills Matrix

Align conference selection and business strategy

In most companies there is a budget to attend conferences, so we can work on how to apply the conference budget. But really if the company is true to the value of developing the company competences in software development and testing – you have to send people to the game changers (Lets Test, OreDev) and trend setters (Agile Testing Days, GOTO Aarhus).

EuroStar have some excellent templates for getting approval but for this exercise, let’s dig a little into the hard numbers. First up: align the conference attendance to the business goals and visions. I’ll pick some here as an example, and let me use them to compare  OreDev and GOTO. These are not as such testing conferences, but very useful as cases anyhow for these topics: 

  • Better solutions faster
  • Going mobile, Going Cloud
  • Build in Business Value

A simple little trick when browsing the conference session titles: try searching for words “value”, “business”, “agile”. As I expected Scott Barber is the only Oredev speaker with both “value” and “business” in his bio. And a search for “value” in Goto turned up nil, until I reread “ǝnןɐʌ: Why we have it backwards” :-).

But there may be other criteria – people for instance, cost and timing.

 OreDev 2013  GOTO aarhus 2013
“Better solutions faster”Testing, Agile, Process, Delivery
  • Tracking and Improving Software Quality with Sonar
  • Curiosity killed the cat, but what kills curiosity?

  • The Beauty of Minimizing Effort
  • Adopting Continuous Delivery

  • Balancing ATDD, GUI Automation and Exploratory Testing
  • Refactor your specs!

  • Symbiotic relationships between testing and analytics
  •  
 Track: When the Agile Manifesto isn’t enough (5)Track: Lean IT Enterprise (2)

  • Why Agile doesn’t scale, and what you can do about it
  • Do’s and don’ts for Distributed Scrum
  • ǝnןɐʌ: Why we have it backwards
  • JS Unit Testing Good Practices and Horrible Mistakes
 Going mobile, Going Cloudmobile, cloud
  • Track: Mobile (16)
  • Track: Cloud (10)
  •  Track modern OS: 5
  • OpenShift Primer – Cloud development has never been easier
  • Continuous Deployment and Automation on Distributed Cloud Environments
  • Windows Azure Mobile Services
  • What’s next for Mobile?
  • Developing Java Applications for the Cloud, present and future
  • Run your Java code on Cloud Foundry
 Build in business valuebusiness, value
  •  Value driven development
  • Are Agile values universal?
  • ǝnןɐʌ: Why we have it backwards


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

A great day in a long time

  • Running Club with the Half-Marathon Team (Stats by Endomondo)
    • Personal record: 3 km in 16m:05s
    • Personal record: 5 km in 27m:05s
    • Personal second largest distance: 6,96 km
    • Average speed: 5:29 min/km
    • Tuesday I did 8.10 km in 48m:00s (average: 5:56 min/km)
  • Won the GOTO aarhus Twitter contest: a LEGO mindstorm NXT 2 set #8547
  • Completed the first week of Microeconomics Principles – A Coursera Signature Track
  • Did a minimum viable job application 
    • It was shipped by hand to the company
    • It mentioned digital solutions
    • called a contact to let him pass the word too 😉

2013-08-20 14.55.29

  • Handed in a follow-up on an unsolicited job application
  • Still felt high over the twitter blast about #CAST2013
  • Called the fiber company for an offer 100/100
  • Called in well, to end 2 weeks bad bluez
  • Balanced the bank accounts
  • Got an appointment for physiotherapy
  • Got an appointment for a haircut
  • Had cake, had a free sandwich .. and a large coffee (black)
  • Figured out how to access the PowerjobMidt LinkedIn Company profile.
  • Figured out where to edit links buried deep down in a WordPress php editor file
  • Figured out how to feature articles using an odd content feature plugin for WordPress
  • Shopped for candy on the way home, gasoline and groceries – and strawberry

it’s your greatest skill that matter

it is increasingly a worker’s greatest skill, not his average skill level, that matters. As capitalism has grown more adept at disaggregating tasks, workers can focus on what they do best, and managers are challenged to make room for brilliant, if difficult, outliers. 

This march toward greater specialization, combined with the pressing need for expertise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, so-called STEM workers, suggests that the prospects for (knowledge *) workers will be on the rise in the coming decades. If the market can forgive people’s weaknesses, then they will rise to the level of their natural gifts.

The above is from  The Autism Advantage – I have replaced the word “autistic” at the * with KNOWLEDGE and it’s probably true for most knowledge jobs – including software testing 🙂

Hire Autistic People; Here’s Why | inc.com | January 3, 2013]

“It will be an economic failure if the new wave of high school graduates can’t be employed. All these kids have talent and ability and a tremendous capacity to contribute. We have to stop thinking that all employees have to be the same, with the same skills, the same attributes.”

For example, anything very repetitious and detail-oriented, work that requires great visual memory for the spotting of anomalies. You might not often think of someone with autism in terms of communication but they can be fantastic at understanding rules-bound communication, where it matters exactly what can and can’t be said to whom. 

The Autism Advantage | New York Times | November 29 2012]

This emerging understanding of autism may change attitudes toward autistic workers. But intelligence, even superior intelligence, isn’t enough to get or keep a job. Modern office culture — with its unwritten rules of behavior, its fluid and socially demanding work spaces — can be hostile territory for autistic people, who do better in predictable environments and who tend to be clumsy at shaping their priorities around other people’s requirements.

dad blackbelt

See also: The Geeks and Nerds Syndrome Who has excellent memory and strong attention to detail

Yes, non-tech people can be testers

Why You Should Consider Non-IT Professionals for QA Roles | Posted on 10/08/2012 | http://blog.utest.com by Jamie Saine ]

Combining traditional QA practices with non-traditional players helps companies test products from all angles. 
 Two attributes are critical for good testers regardless of academic background, which non-IT persons can develop and receive training, he pointed out. … The first is domain knowledge, …  the tester must also understand the SDLC processes or models for the app as used by their employer, such as agile, iterative or waterfall, he said.

Software testing is a skill of many skillsJesper Ottosen on the EuroStar blog ]

Business skills or domain know-how … Application skills or technical know-how … software testing itself and the skill of software testing tools … Project management or task coordination know-how … Notice that the above skill areas are very “hard” skills as compared to “soft” or personal skills. All kinds soft skills come into play in software testing for me to single out anyone. Some situations you have to be flexible, others stern. Some situations require results orientation and some situations require attention to all details. I can see the skills of all personality in play in software testing – as software testing is a skill of many skills.

Testing AND Checking]:

You apply both your left and right side of the brain – you check and test – you do tasks and seek value – you apply routinized and bespoke activities. You can use the distinction to guide you to a context-driven testing approach. 

2013-01-04 11.01.50