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

Word of the Year 2015

I will continue selecting a word of the year, just like 2014 and 2013. For 2015 my word of the year is ‘trust‘.

Sometimes I find myself in situations where I just trust other people (and myself). Here’s one example: Some years ago I walked through the ‘Olympia Park’ in Munich every morning on my way to work. I regularly noticed the ad to take a roof top tour of the Olympia Stadium and finally took the tour onto the transparent construction up to 40 meters above the ground level.

Roof top tour of the Olympia Stadium, Munich

Roof top tour of the Olympia Stadium, Munich

Going up there, I trusted that the people who’ve build the thing in the nineteen-seventies knew what they were doing — and I trusted that I wouldn’t suffer from acrophobia.
Walking on a transparent floor in that height isn’t something I do regularly. It totally was worth it. 😎

Since I found that trusting often leads to a good experience, I’ll trust in 2015 becoming a good year.

The Agile Testing Days 2014: Conference Day 2

The first keynote of day 2 “Test First Saves The World”, was Joe Justice who talked about applying Scrum in non-software industries, including the automobile industry. He also presented a very exciting project which attempts to build a car: http://wikispeed.org/car/

In fact, he brought parts of a car and invited the conference attendees to join a Scrum team and build a car in the hotel lobby.

People building a car in the hotel lobby

Building a car at the Agile Testing Days 2014

Joe also pointed to another project he started: The MicroHouse, that aims to provide a clean bathroom, a clean bedroom, a lockable front door at less than 100 USD. It is this project that is linked to the “save the world” part of the presentation title.

In the second keynote Fanny Pittack and Alexander Schwartz presented “Insights from Happy Change Agents”. Both of them have presented at previous conferences, but this time they went for a pair presentation and a keynote — even though they have never worked together before. I found this one very inspiring, to say the least. They demonstrated how a coach can take on the perspective of a team, rather than using her (or his) point of view from the outside. In addition to that, there was also a pair exercise for the attendees to do. They also shared their slides:

To me, the talk was not only about changing your point of view, but also about trust in a team as well as a single person. When the question session started, I made an unusual (for me) move and asked whether someone from the audience was willing to prepare a pair presentation submission for next year’s Agile Testing Days. Then two things happened rather quickly: First José Díaz announced, that if I find a pairing partner, then the session is already accepted:

How awesome — and trusting! — is that? The second thing to happen: The first person I noticed to signal willingness to co-present with me was George Dinwiddie. We met in person for the first time at this conference, have never worked together before and we’re separated by the Atlantic Ocean. I expect to have great fun and learn a lot while working on our presentation. I am sure that we will figure out how a distributed team (of two) can work.

Even now as I write this — a week later — I’m amazed, impressed and honoured by the trust and friendliness of all this. Thank you all: Every single one in the audience in general and George & José in particular!

After this, I had a short break from the ‘regular talks’ and attended the Open Space session (there were six of them, throughout the conference!) facilitated by Alex Schladebeck and Meike Mertsch. Since there were not too many people attending the sessions, we changed the format to a Lean Coffee. I like it a lot when a format is changed ‘on the fly’ in order to match the circumstances, instead of sticking to a plan that doesn’t fit well anymore.

Among other things, we discussed the question “What makes a good session at this conference?”, brought in by George and me, since we wanted to know what it is that people like about a session. Thank you for voting on this topic to everyone who attended!

The third keynote of the day was David Evans’ “The Three Pillars of Testing”. He explained how testing and agile fit together and placed just the right amount of puns into his talk. He explained the classic order of capitals, what ‘Euthynteria’ is — and what is isn’t:

Do not confuse euthynteria with 'youth interior'

What ‘euthynteria’ is — and what it is not

This was the end of a very pleasant and entertaining second conference day.

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