Agile Testing Days 2016 — Part 3: Tutorial Day 1

This year at the Agile Testing Days, I attended Samantha Laing and Karen Greaves 1/2-day workshop “The Collaborative Team”. It turned out that there was just one other participant in this tutorial, so actually it was much more like a private coaching session. A big thank you for offering the session anyway and making this possible.

The information and exercises were all about building and keeping trust in the team. I found it very interesting that, in order to increase the trust level, it is also important to know what the team can (and can not) influence.

Knowing this, makes it easier for teams to cope with undesirable situations. For example one of my recent teams was moved out of the building where most other teams are located, to a place some minutes walking down the road. For me, it was much easier to understand and accept this, after we learned about the reasons management gave us. — I still didn’t actually like the situation, but at least it was clear why this decision had been made.

This is a theme we touched in the tutorial time and time again: Talking and listening to each other helps immensely.

Another important takeaway for me were the exercises about the power of questions. The ability and patience to listen to people until they have spoken is so important. I have been given solutions (or suggestions for immediate steps) so often, when instead it would have been important to first understand the problem in more detail, rather than providing the tips that came to mind first. — I admit that I have done this, too.

With the experience from this workshop and the material we were given, I feel much better prepared to help teams improve, not limited to software testing but also in the topics we covered in this coaching session.

I liked the half-day format of the session a lot for two main reasons. First of all, this coaching session with two coaches and two attendees was very intensive and a little bit exhausting (but in a good way). Second of all, I had a free afternoon that I was able to spend in the beautiful city of Potsdam. 🙂

Thank you very much Karen & Sam and of course co-attendee Elena! If you have the chance to get this kind of session at a conference (or elsewhere), I can only and full-heartedly recommend it.

My ‘Day 1’ of this conference ended with a delicious speakers dinner in a very festive atmosphere.

agiletd-2016_conference-dinner_s

Agile Testing Days 2016 — Part I: Promotion Video

The Agile Testing Days proposal pages for 2016 asked for a ‘promotion video’ to, well, help promote  proposals. So I created one and I had fun making it.

You asked for it — you know who you are. Hope you enjoy watching. 😀
Without further ado there you go:

Stephan’s Labyrinth – Testing & The Internet of Things from Stephan Kämper on Vimeo.
Promo video for the Agile Testing Days 2016, Potsdam, Germany

Addendum: The proposal has been accepted and the full workshop announcement its available at the Agile Testing Days program.

Word of the Year 2016 — Kind of

In previous years (see 2015,  2014 and 2013), I picked a word of the year. For 2016 I take the liberty to bend (break?) the rule (I see it more as a guideline) and select a term rather than a word.

And the term is:art-and-science

I see a close relation between software development in general, testing in particular and science & art. Additionally, with my background in astronomy, physics and oceanography, my thinking is biased by my education in science.

“Fast Feedback Using Ruby” the next chapter: Testing Rake Tasks

Towards the end of my workshop “Fast Feedback Loops & Fun with Ruby” at the London Tester Gathering 2015 (in June 2015), I asked the attendees about suggestions for new material to go into the book. The topic that was mentioned first was “Testing Rake tasks”, so that’s going to be the next chapter I will work on. Meanwhile, an older blog post Testing Rake Tasks may be worth reading (mind you, that post is about two years old now).

When the chapter is ready to be released (in July or August ’15), the price of the book will go up a little bit, but of course everyone who bought the book before, will get the “update” for free.

If you have already read “Fast Feedback Using Ruby”, I’d love to hear from you! Tell me what you think. What do you think is missing? What should be improved? Just send an e-mail to fastfeedbackusingruby@seasidetesting.com or contact me as @S_2K on Twitter.

Addendum (18. July 2015)

The chapter will be published in two parts. The first one “Testing Legacy Rake Tasks” should be available before August. The second part “Test Driven Development of Rake Tasks” is planned for August.

Again: The book price will go up in a few days, so if you like to get the next chapters at the current price, now is a good time to buy it at https://leanpub.com/fastfeedbackusingruby/.

Aspects of a Good Session

Still in time for this year’s submissions for the Agile Testing Days 2015 here’s a list of takeaways from an Open Space session at the Agile Testing Days 2014.

This blog post is the result of George Dinwiddie and me asking what makes a good conference session at one of the Open Spaces. In this session we were about 8 people, so the information gathered may not be a representative for all attendees of the whole conference—and it may or may not represent other conferences.

That said without further ado, here’s the list:

  • Context for the content
    Providing context helps listeners to relate to the content and understand the circumstances in which the information was gathered. Both can be important to transfer the presented information to ones own work place.
  • Funny
    This has also been noted down as ‘makes you laugh’, which may be subtly different from ‘funny’. Most people like to laugh or at least smile. It also helps to remember a presentation if it’s entertaining as well as informative.
  • Little text
    Don’t bother people with too much text on slides. Many people will start reading—and at the same time stop listening to what’s being said. In addition to that some of the people who do not start reading, will be annoyed because the text is too small to be read.
  • Share pain points and problems, not just successes
    There’s hardly any project at all that doesn’t run into some kind of trouble. That’s OK.
    Tell people about the issues your project experienced—and also how you managed them.
  • Tell a story—a personal story
    Most people love listening to stories, even more so for a personal story.
  • Short
    Well, keep it short and stay in your assigned time box.
    Extra credit if you manage to give your audience some extra time to switch conference room after your session.
  • Experience things
    Let the audience have an experience versus just listening.
    At best this is an interactive workshop. At least this is a vicarious experience.
  • Interactive
    People like to provide input, even when attending a conference talk. Providing some interactive tasks also helps people to engage with the presented topic.
  • Speaking from experience
    At least at the Agile Testing Days, people like to learn about, dare I say it, real life experiences.
  • Can ask questions along the way
    If you can (or even like) answering questions and responding to comments along the way, by all means do so.
    However, I respect it when presenters prefer to answer questions after the talk.
  • Things that connect different topics
    Learning about new ways in which things are connected is interesting for many people. (However, I recommend against forcing this into a presentation.)
  • An outlandish topic
    Some like bizarre, unconventional stories. This certainly helps to get the audiences attention.
    Notwithstanding, don’t forget to link the presentation to the overall theme of the conference.

Some things that came to mind after the session: 

  • Images
    Provide meaningful and consistent pictures, graphs and diagrams.
  • Big, easy to read text
    This matches well with ‘Little text’ from above.

Please do not hesitate to add a comment, if you would like to add to (or disagree with) the list.
In any case, consider submitting a proposal for the Agile Testing Days! It’s a great conference, it’s fun and there was a costume party in the past few years.

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