.. with only 5 songs and a book. Which ones and how they tie into the topics of leadership, biases and figuring out your learning pathway. Listen here:
The testing activity has been under change for long. And it’s clear that the testing activity has shifted. Even the test managers have to re-calibrate – as other roles will be doing the test management activity. Be prepared, as someone else will do your testing job. Work on building self-reliance in others and be prepared to hand-over what you can do.
There is more to testing than testing specialists punching test cases. The testing activity as such, has shifted (both left and right), and testing is being done by more roles than “testing people”. Depending on the context, the explicit testing activity is done by a mix of developers, testing specialists, end users and others.
I often find myself as the only testing person on the project. The testing activity is done by automation specialists and end users in one project, and by technical operations staff and end users in another. In these projects either the technology or the business knowledge is paramount, and not so much exploration, flaws and edge cases for specialized testers to explore.me, 2020. YMMV
Similarly for the test managers – there’s a trend/shift, that sometimes the test management activity is shifting away from the test managers. Even to me – even if I’m sometimes more an a “project manager of the testing activity“, a “Test coach” or similar. The trend is already there – coined sometimes as “whole team approach to quality“. Yes, most of the test management activity can be done by scrum masters, Release Train Engineers and even project managers ….
Recently I was asked to assist a large transition project for a holding company with many brands. Each brand had their own applications and technology stack, but the holding company had decided to move the hosting. So the holding company’s Project Management Office (PMO) was put in charge of facilitating the brand’s testing activities – an activity they had never considered nor done before. My role would only be to provide guidance, not do the actual facilitation.
Which got me thinking….
And after some deep thinking. – I do have the privilege to be able to adapt. I don’t need to hoard knowledge or make power moves (anymore) or worry about health-coverage or any of the lower Maslow pyramid terms (anymore).
It’s very natural for me to hand over project approaches to my co-workers. I’m often on the “blue team” to outline the strategy, My best field of work is to bring clarity and consistency, not scalability or repeatability to the practise.
I naturally hand over learning anyways, so why not re-calibrate when the thing I do has reached a stage, where it’s repeatable. And then focus on building the skills in others, work myself out of the test management role as we know it.
And don’t worry that someone else will eventually do my (testing and test management) job. The first step is to acknowledge the trend/pattern, second to redefine and bring clarity! Let’s explore and see what we find!
You, yourself, is responsible for getting the training, learning and knowledge you need. Don’t wait for your boss – be proactive, it drives your success. Here are some places to start:
Meetup’s are happening online now, which removes one primary barrier to attending great talks. Similarly conferences go online, some with a fee, some for free – some even in multiple time zones. Lastly online training sites are abundant with relevant information for the challenges you have. Yes – also for you!
Just this week, April 2020, I’m attending:
- Smart Bear Connect 2020, online / live
- Lean Agile Scotland 2019 recording
- Test Bash @ home 24 hour online / live
With plenty of talks about risk based testing, test management in the light of automated deliveries, BDD etc. With live slack groups the experience is almost as the physical conferences :). Next up in may is the Online Test Conf, Spring 2020 with topics for everyone in convenient global time slots.
When your boss says there’s no budget for attending conferences in person this year (again!), there are other ways to attend – physically. You could try to submit a talk and get accepted, but the barrier is quite high. A great way is simply to reach out and volunteer to help the program committee. If you can time it, with regards to the budget year, ask you boss based on the conference program aligned with your company strategy. At least what the boss should do is to allow it to be company time – else take the time off. …
If you are hungry to learn
What I see in the global testing community is that Scandinavians are complacently waiting for the company to pay time, money and effort to their learning, while people in emergent economies (Hi Sfax and Argentina) are eager to learn and on the forefront of the trends of the trade. They are driving the change of a positive inclusive community.
And for you!
if you still work in silos, your success – will be lessMike Lyles, Smart Bear connect 2020
How you treat the bringer of (bad) news tells me a lot about the organisation and potential for business growth. Go Read Accelerate – that book is full of insights. One of the models, is the organisational types from Westrum:
Andy Kelk has a to-the-point description about Westrum on his blog:
To test your organisation, you can run a very simple survey asking the group to rate how well they identify with 6 statements:https://www.andykelk.net/devops/using-the-westrum-typology-to-measure-culture
- On my team, information is actively sought.
- On my team, failures are learning opportunities, and messengers of them are not punished.
- On my team, responsibilities are shared.
- On my team, cross-functional collaboration is encouraged and rewarded.
- On my team, failure causes enquiry.
- On my team, new ideas are welcomed.
The respondents rate each statement from a 1 (strongly disagree) to a 7 (strongly agree). By collecting aggregating the results, you can see where your organisation may be falling short and put actions in place to address those areas. These questions come from peer-reviewed research by Nicole Forsgren.https://www.andykelk.net/devops/using-the-westrum-typology-to-measure-culture
So when a passionate person comes to you with (bad) news, what do you and your organisation do? Do you reflect, ignore or hide the request? Do you say that it’s not a good idea to bridge the organisation? Do you raise an Non-conformity and set in motion events to bring “justice”? Do you experiment to implement the novel ideas and actively seek information?
FAIL = First Attempt In Learning.
In September 2017 the Ministry of Testing had a crowd-based knowledge sharing event called “30 Days of Agile Testing” with a small learning activity for each day of the month. As with the similar security event I set up a weekly schedule at work to meet for an time-boxed hour and discuss 3-5 selected topics each time.
Our score was 17 topics discussed – some more discussed than actually tried out. Hence the half marks on the poster on the window below. Me and my coworkers work on many different teams – so to dig into specific team tools and processes was out of scope.
Here is a few of our findings:
- Day 3 – YouTube is full of videos on agile, but our Chinese colleague cannot view them. They can though view videos locally on the Dojo and TestHuddle.
- Day 4 – We discussed the Agile Manifesto in relation to GxP/regulated projects. GxP and agile can work together, when you control your deliveries with for instance ATDD. See DevOpsDays Seattle 2017: Continuous Delivery Sounds Great But … and How to build agility into a regulated project?
- Day 12/26 – We need the test cases in many contexts, but do we need the Test Plan specifically. Perhaps we can reduce the test plan to “Requirements/scope”, “test cases” and “staffing” as in Plutora Test.
- Day 13: Perhaps not an IDE, but then learn some other technical tools that is not automation: See 30 Days Of Agile Testing! Day Thirteen and 6 Technical Testing Skills that Aren’t Automation
- Day 18 – Put the testers and test management tasks on the sprint board. Adjust the burn down for part time people. Keep all testers and other people in the project in the loop.
Links to “the Club” on some of the topics we selected:
- 30 Days of Agile Testing, Day 1: Agile testing books
- 30 Days of Agile testing, Day 2: Mindmap of what agile testing is
- 30 Days of Testing – Day 3 Videos
- 30 Days of Agile testing, Day 4: The agile manifesto
- 30 Days of Agile testing, Day 8: Talk to a developer, rather than creating a ticket
- 30 Days of Agile testing, Day 12: Test documentation
- 30 days of Agile Testing, Day 26: What does your Test Plan look like?
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 boys (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 hope this drives the right behavior”
Similar posts on autism: Pragmatic choices of what is important and possible, Stakeholders,
Similar posts on drive and motivation: More than carrots and sticks, 16 points that may rock the boat
One way to collaborate in a team is to achieve shared knowledge together. An example of this is the online activity of “30 days of testing” that The Ministry Of Testing has been putting out to the online community to participate it. My test team has a “Work Group / Special Interest Group” with regards to security testing, so when a 30 day challenge for security testing came up, we scheduled sessions to learn from the topics provided (see below).
As we are testing consultants doing work for our customers, we scheduled 3 sessions – initially for an hour. At the start of the hour we picked 4-5 topics from the list, and worked our way through them in a prioritized order – within the time box of the hour. Come to think of it we might as well have used the Lean Coffee format. As we have team members two places in DK and one place in PH, it was a skype call using screen sharing. After the call I summarized sending out a “link mail” to all in the testing group (DK and PH). Evaluating the sessions we extend our ordinary scheduled WG meetings to make room for collaboratively investigate additional security testing topics.
12 From the list: ZAP, Google Gruyere, threat models, HTTP proxies, posture assessments, tiger boxes, recent hacks (elaborated by Troy Hunt), OWASP top 10, OWASP SQL injections, adding data integrity testing into a test plan, share ideas for security testing internally and externally, discuss security testing with regards to EU GDPR compliance.
7 Not on the list: Naughty Strings form GitHub, Bug Magnet plugin, How real persons names trick IT systems, how to be careful with custom license plates, DDoS attacks, IoT privacy failures, Chaos monkeys/Siamese army and little Bobby Tables:
To sum up, we have learned about: what tools that can make testing easier, where to read about vulnerabilities and and simple exploits, understand how personal data and logins are used and stored, how to pitch security testing based on fear of breaches and safety concerns, testing the requirements for “by design” security.
Treat your testing people as knowledge workers, not rote industrial resources. The later is a spiral to the lowest value, the former is about giving the business valuable knowledge. A modern tester is a knowledge worker – whose prime area is finding information, filtering information, relating information and presenting information. It is a non-linear process, that requires a touch of both creativity and consideration.
The best testing tool is the brain, and the knowledge worker ponder the problems both consciously and unconsciously. She can work without using the hands or legs, but not with a simple headache. It takes a lot of thinking and collaboration with the stakeholders to identify what questions about the product has value to the business. The (context-driven) knowledge focused tester focus both that it works, and that it adds value to the business.
The business focus are far from the classic mindset of testing established around the millennial (2000). where testing is about finding defects and going through the motion of deriving test cases from specifications. – I know I’ve been there. That era is long gone, even dead at some time to Whitaker and Alberto Savoia. Be provoked or even insulted, but it’s the future.
But wake up – it’s not where the testing world is today. The old tools of design techniques and coverage metrics makes less and less sense to the business. They are old-school and classic approaches, in the not so cool way. The cool kids on the block are poppin’ tags – getting new stuff, sharing and exploring. They know that change is the new normal and that what works in one situation doesn’t work in another. Their primary concern and focus is getting knowledge to the decision makers. They are the knowledge workers
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 boys currently have Star Wars as their special interest , 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 . So in order both to keep up with “PG”  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 he 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).
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 boys 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.
- special interest, as in overly dedicated into the topic and cannot talk about anything else.
- The Danish “dubbers” are usually world class, luckily.
- Episode 3 is still to come, though.
Who had the family’s largest LEGO set his Christmas – not the boys (age 8-10), neither the “boys” (age 40 and up) – it wasn’t me* – but the 11-year-old girl and her 8 wheel 42008 Service Truck – 1276 pieces, power functions, pneumatic, gears and 44 cm forcefulness. There was no boy band merchandize, no glitter or similar gender framing. Quite a project – as is the story about the “Research Institute” mini-figure set.