The KWST (quest) for learning

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Kiwi Workshop on Software TestingKWST#3 (like quest) was a workshop that exceeded my expectations and the reasons are several. At KWST#1, there was the brand new buzz, the excitement of something new and the start of something significant in the New Zealand software testing world. KWST#2 was an example of contention and more importantly, connecting and finding. KWST#2 allowed us as Kiwi testers to connect with an Australian leader, David Greenlees who has gone on to set up OZWST and Tasting Lets Test. KWST#2 also unearth Katrina Edgar as *new* voice in the testing community.

KWST#3 was again, a completely different vibe.  This workshop was the first without James Bach (however his influence was strong) and it was a very ANZAC peer conference. The attendees for KWST#3 were:-

Katrina Edgar - Wellington, NZ
Oliver Erlewein – Wellington, NZ
Rich Robinson – Sydney, Australia
Brian Osman – Wellington, NZ
Anne Marie Charrett - Sydney, Australia
Jennifer Hurrell – Auckland, New Zealand
Erin Donnell – Auckland, New Zealand
Katrina McNicholl – Christchurch, New Zealand
Andrew Robins – Christchurch, New Zealand
Mike Talks - Wellington, New Zealand
Tessa Benzie – Christchurch, New Zealand
Alesasandra Moreira – Sydney, Australia
James Hailstone – Wellington, New Zealand
Lee Hawkins – Melbourne, Australia
Damian Glenny – Wellington, New Zealand
Shirley Tricker – Auckland, New Zealand
Joshua Raine – Wellington, New Zealand
Colin Cherry – Melbourne, Australia

And as you can see we had New Zealand, Sydney and Melbourne covered.  Only David from Adelaide was missing! Now some might wonder if this is a Kiwi workshop why are there invites from Australia? If anything, the name KWST denotes its origins but it is exclusive to Kiwi’s.  We are after leaders, we are after strong craftspeople – we want to build the community, we want to get better!  One of the very obvious benefits to come from KWST#3 is the Closer Tester Relations that now exist between the countries making *our* community downunder just that much bigger and better.

[side note - there was some talk about the exclusivity of communities and events - I won't address that issue here but will in a future post].

Ok, so what went down at KWST#3? For a start, KWST#3 unearthed more testing leaders. I could go through the whole attendee list but every single one is a testing leader – my challenge to them (us) is extend their (our) sphere of influence and help other testers see through the nonsense that is out there at the moment and become better testers.

Some thoughts i managed to record in between facilitating were:-

  • Real testing is about communication and building relationships
  • Create a space that facilitates the opportunity to learn
  • If you are questioning why you are testing, find your community to help answer why
  • Its not about teaching, its about learning
  • Dispel the myth and then harness the power
  • Test the idea – is there value here?
  • In learning, become hands on and acknowledge the risk

And a sample of some of the many excellent tweets tweeted during the two days.

#KWST3 @thbenzie … Excellent ER… If you can dispel a myth you can foster engagement, collaboration, confidence and sharing

#KWST3… Andrew “Capt Stubing” Robins taking about his team’s JBE..James Bach Experience in 2004 @jamesmarcusbach

Some of the lessons learned
It is important to have a good mix of people and much better to have people who share common ground.

Good facilitation works well though I’ve learned not to kill the conversation too soon

CITCON – Oliver had a great idea to print off the ER descriptions, put them on the wall and everyone voted what ER they wanted to hear. We did this from ER three onwards. It seemed to work pretty well (CITCON )

Having a +1 card wouldve been very helpful as a number of yellow cards (and some cases green and red) were thrown in support of what was said by the person delivering the ER. Gives the presenter instant feedback.

The success of these workshops is in the sum of the everyone involved. Find a core  group to work with.

Twitter generates excitement, comment and feedback. Define the harsh tag and let everyone know.

Sitting close to the co-facilitaor and content owner helps to quickly make decisions!

Regular breaks = regular networking opportunities

Playing “testing games” is a good way to learn, share and break up the workshop

Day one is all nervous energy. Day two is more relaxed and people open up a lot more

Last day check out also included the question – “what I will do in then next twelve months?” – Give everyone a call to action…it seemed to work well. Already, a number of KWST’ers who have deferred using social media have made the leap!

Summary
KWST#3 (and OZWST, Tasting Lets Test and so on) are gaining momentum down under.  These are REAL leadership workshops aimed at helping the craft of software testing improve. Its alot more than juts talking – its debating, challenging, discussing, sharing, helping, networking and building the personal connections which are vital to a successful community.  KWST#3 achieved that.

Oliver summed it up best with his tweet…

#KWST3 us organisers feel so rapt! It looks like we’re actually achieving what #KWST set out to do and everyone is really enjoying it too.

KWST is ABOUT bringing community leaders together (and finding them) and raising the bar in our world. My challenge to you (us) all is what are you doing to help the craft (and the community) become better?

Links
Collin Cherry’s thougyhts on KWST#3 -

Aaron Hodder’s braindump from KWST#3 -

David Greenlees perspective

KWST#3 002 KWST#3 attendees

Discussion in action                                      KWST#3 – Attendees

Lets Test Australia is coming! September 2014

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Following the success of Lets Test Software Testing conference in Europe, David Greenlees and Anne Marie Charrett (with the Lets Test crew are bringing Lets Test downunder!

September 2014 – stay tuned…

KWST#3 is coming – 5/6 July 2013!

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It’s that time of yeKiwi Workshop on Software Testingar again – Kiwi Workshop on Software Testing (KWST) #3  will  again grace Wellington, New Zealand.

This years theme is …

“Lighting the way; Educating others and ourselves about software testing –  (raising a new generation of thinking creative testers)”

 

And this promises to be an excellent peer conference!  We have invited test leaders throughout New Zealand and from Australia including Anne Marie Charrett.

So more details to follow but much thanks go to …

  • The Association for Software Testing
  • Software Education
  • The KWST crew (Aaron, David, Katrina, Oliver and Rich)

My experience of the magic of StarWest 2012 – Day 2

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StarWEST300px

***Apologies for the delay in getting this out – a rather hectic end to 2012!***

Day two started off much like day one – a ton of testers milling around, talking, networking, listening to talks, taking on testing puzzles and (mostly) looking to improve their craft in someway.

For me, the highlight was delivering my talk Using agile techniques to manage testing – even on non-agile projects. The talk was scheduled to begin at 1500 hours which was plenty of time to enjoy other talks and ease my way in the event.

I got to the room early, set up and met Martin Pol who was a very gracious host.  Feeling the butterflies a little (which is a good thing) i began to run through my talk in my head, greet people as they entered the room and waited for the fireworks to start!

After the introduction, I was away…

I won’t get into the presentation per se (please email me if wish to know more) but what I did was draw on a real life project with real life examples to demonstrate how we (test team) overcame the challenges placed before us (I was the test manager on a project that used *agile techniques* even though we weren’t *agile*). The most interesting thing for me was the number of people in the audience that shared similar project pain.

Some were able take parts away from my talk and attempt to implement them in their projects, some just wanted to talk (and it is always great to talk to fellow testers about similar things) which  i think that is part of the responsibility of speakers – to help those with questions after the presentation.

I have seen some presenters at conferences leave almost immediately after their talk and thus denying further questioning, understanding and enlightenment.  Those that stay help increase their reputation as someone who is willingly to help. This is a very good attribute!

Speaking is always a buzz and i was thrilled that it went so well. One tester in the audience wrote a rather nice compliment on their evaluation form (there were a number of them)…

One of the best presentations in this conference! very inspiring and valuable. Thanks!

and from another tester…

I’ve had very little interaction with agile testing but after hearing your presentation I have a lot better understanding on how it works. Thank you very much!

And there were others like them which is always nice to hear.

After my talk i joined everyone else in the main hall and listened to Doug Hoffman give his keynote on how to Leverage your test automation ROI which i really enjoyed.

In summary, Star West 2012 as a great experience and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. IF you get the opportunity to attend a testing conference then I encourage you to do so (and meet fellow testers and increase your network and opportunity to learn) and then after you’ve been to a few, share your experiences with others – we want to hear you!

My experience of the magic of StarWest 2012 – Day 1

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October 3 and 4 – Star West 2012 – Disneyland Resort, Anaheim California. What better place to be than at Disneyland to experience the magic of sharing, learning and collaborating with fellow testers.

StarWest 2012 was my first experience of a Star conference and the expectations that I had were definitely surpassed. Yes, I suppose  in some ways, in could be termed a *trade show* for testers but it is also a very good opportunity to hear (and be heard), see (and be seen – networking) with fellow testers who are typically on the other side of the world to me.

The following is a summary of what I discovered at this years StarWest…

Day One – October 3th
The day started with me getting *lost* by following my iPad map and taking the wrong turn. This was a case of error between tablet and user.
Upon arriving and registering, we (delegates) were presented with a free breakfast – free? food? Yup i was there and didn’t turn it down.

As i ventured into the conference room, my immediate thought was that this place was big…and there are a lot of testers here (relative to Australasian conferences I’ve attended). Lee Copeland open the conference and as a nice gesture acknowledged all of the overseas testers in the room.
I park myself down to the side of the main stage – I think I spy Scott Barber, Griffin Jones and Michael Bolton and make a mental note that I must catch up with them.

So I opened the iPad, twitter fired up (and I notice how quick the internet access was) and settled down to two excellent keynotes.

The first talk was by Jonathan Kohl on Tapping into Testing Mobile Applications. This talk got my interest in that I don’t test in that space but I own a phone and the fact that Jonathan made his talk very interesting got me thinking that I may in future be testing devices and apps – so why not pay attention!?  These were some the ideas that I took away (as I captured them and recorded them on twitter)

#starwest.. Move beyond the black box…the black box is dead in mobile testing @jonathan_kohl #testing
#starwest…gamification…reward the best bug video of the week.. @jonathan_kohl … Me: great idea!
#starwest…gamification of work @jonathan_kohl .. Me: send testers on a quest, level up to test paladin level 1…sounds cool!
#starwest … Gamification of work movement… @jonathan_kohl me: Great idea!
#starwest … Social features..now do we harness the time spent on social media…use social media interruptions in your app testing
starwest … Testing mobile apps..get out in the real world..at home, on the move and away from home (mall,weather etc)
#starwest …build something amazing as opposed to strictly following a certain methodology @jonathan_kohl
#starwest…usability testing and how a user uses an app is paramount! @jonathan_kohl ..research usability testing approaches
#starwest …one type of project challenge with web apps…extreme time pressure @jonathan_kohl
#starwest …airline apps are developed on assumption of a strong network signal…at an airport not always true @jonathan_kohl
#starwest @jonathan_kohl …think about whats outside of the device…
#starwest think about testing apps in the grey box space. Black box may not be enough
#starwest..understand users motivation and emotions
#starwest …testers don’t use apps in ideal environments
#starwest deleting apps is an emotional thing. Think about emotions when testing mobile apps
#starwest apps…don’t give people reasons to delete your app #testing

The key points for me were about understanding a users emotions and motivations when testing a mobile device and that testing is not confined to just the *black box*. There is more to testing that the front end.

What also struck a chord with me is when testing an app is the  need to have in our mind the thought of not giving a user a reason to delete the app. It doesn’t take long to install and even less time to delete. Also the reason to delete an app may be magnified if a gripe about the app is spread on social media. If this was done, it may require a hail mary pass to come back from that!

Great talk – crowd now *fired* up!

The second keynote of the day was by Johanna Rothman on Becoming a Kick#$% Test Manager. To start with, Kick#$% here actually means awesome!

Here’s is what I captured via twitter…

#starwest…if there is no problem to solve then you don’t need a meeting @johannarothman
#starwest…if the meeting doesn’t have an agenda you don’t have to go…ask for 24hours notice for an agenda @johannarothman
#starwest…How to say no to multi tasking amongst projects @johannarothman http://t.co/JDLEib6l
#starwest…Build communities of practice…”lunch and learns” great for learning what others are doing/sharing @johannarothman
#starwest.. Forget about solo experts and multitasking…testers assigned to multiple projects..nothing gets done @johannarothman
#starwest…When people start caring about bugs depends on where they are in the products lifecycle @johannarothman
#starwest…An awesome manager has regular one on ones…they are more AWARE of what is going on @johannarothman
#starwest…testers are generalists …help them move into other positions with they want to.. @johannarothman
#starwest…coaching is when your offer options with support..when its needed @johannarothman
#starwest…as a test manager, how do we determine that our people are high worth to you? @johannarothman
#starwest…you need testers that can also understand the solution space. @johannarothman
#starwest….hire smart, high value people. When you start talking about price, you’re not talking about value @johannarothman
#starwest…@johannarothman … We test from the perspective of curiosity not victims….
#starwest…@johannarothman … Next StarWest keynote on becoming a kick@$$ test manager. Kick@$$ = awesome!

I dislike meetings or to be clear, meetings that do nothing and have no direction. They are time wasters and give the illusion of activity so when Johanna reiterated then need for an agenda or not having a meeting if there is nothing to solve, that got a big green tick in my mind. Like a lot of us, we have been in far too many non-productive meetings that generate…nothing.
Great talk – first time I’ve heard Johanna speak and the crowd was fired up again ( I thought I heard chanting like an English Premier League soccer match in the far corner acknowledging Johanna’s keynote – but i digress).

After the keynote, the trade show opened when a million tool vendors (of very similar tools) and consultants dazzled everyone with their wares (and swag – I was too slow for the Atlassian t-shirt but picked up a couple of usb sticks, a mouse pad and a whizzy pen that lit up.) Interestingly enough, the big focus appeared to be tools that tested mobile applications.

So, being the tester that I am, I decided to rock up to a few vendors and ask if they have any tools that work on iSeries.

Mostly I got blank looks.

One vendor attempted to find out more but admitted that they didn’t really know if their tool could – If it did and If I was looking at their tool for iSeries, I would sound them out. Why? They were honest enough to admit that they didn’t know (though did they did try to find out) and that *integrity* counts for something (some other vendors gave me a rehearsed sales pitch without listening to what i was saying – at that point, I just wanted to leave – but pass me the swag first! :))

I quite enjoyed walking the tool vendor hall and it was good to be amongst the *buzz*.

Spotted Michael Bolton and introduced myself and chatted to him. Bumped into Scott Barber and we had a good talk – 2 out of 2 so far…

From 11:00am till 12:00pm I was involved in giving free consulting sessions. Anyone that wanted to talk and ask could (and did). I had some good discussions particularly on the state of test automation in New Zealand (which unsurprisingly, was similar to the US – just a different degree of magnitude). I also managed to get a *free* consult with Doug Hoffman, a real gentleman amongst testers and I came way with some answers to some questions.

After lunch, track sessions began in earnest and there were six streams to choose from which I won’t go into detail here. Suffice to say that I took quite a few notes – I was like a kid in a candy store!

Leaving the conference after day one was a buzz. Ideas floating around my head – walking through downtown Disney with the Disney tunes playing non-stop –  spying Goofy and the Mad Hatter – it all added to the magic of StarWest 2012 (how can you NOT be entranced by having a conference here)!

I’ll talk on day 2 next post…

Agile @ StarWest Software Testing Conference 2012

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In my experience, what makes agile so powerful is the  encouragement of rapid, effective communication to achieve, uncover and discover what is wanted, what is being built and what could be going wrong. Practices such as collaboration and co-location can be effective tools for any project regardless of whether your project is agile or not.

I will be at Star West 2012, Anaheim, California next week (1 October 2012 – 5 October 2012) and will be speaking Thursday on how I borrowed some agile practices for a non-agile project and the lessons that I learnt.

If you’re attending Star West, come a long and say hello otherwise I will blog and tweet where I can!

See http://www.sqe.com/StarWest/Concurrent/Default.aspx?Date=10/4/2012#T19

Star West Software Testing Conference 2012

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During the first week of October 2012, I will be presenting at Star West at The Disneyland hotel, Anaheim, California on Using Agile techniques to Manage Testing – Even on non-agile projects (http://www.sqe.com/StarWest/Concurrent/Default.aspx?Date=10/4/2012#T19 ).

Its going to be an exciting testing conference and I’m looking forward to meeting fellow testers at such a prestigious event. Already as I scan the speaker list I see testers such as Michael Bolton, Dawn Haynes, Rob Sabourin and so forth who are leaders in our craft and I’m looking forward to meeting them (again) and talking – what else? Testing!

No doubt there are many more here that are not on the speakers list and I’m looking forward to meeting you too. :)

See you there!

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