KWST – Kiwi Workshop on Software Testing – Day 2

KWST – Day 2… Day 2 left off where day 1 ended – on a high!  Everyone was buzzing and everyone was excited! Before day 2 started, James and I created a list of tangents to vote on and follow which was helpful because it meant the group as whole determined how the day would go.

After the vote, the day went as follows:-

  • James introduced information take aways for everyone involved in KWST (for example Cem Kaner’s paper on Recruiting Software Testers and another paper on Exploratory testing dynamics)
  • Testing books bibliography (or non-software testing books. Most software testing books are regurgitated folklore).
  • An experience report (ER) by James about certification and professionalism
  • Followed up by the dice game (a game in problem solving)


James introduced some valuable documentation from himself, Cem Kaner, Michael Bolton and others. These documents all tied in with the theme “How i became a test professional or how i helped others become testing professionals”. These documents are a rich resource of information and were gratefully received.

Testing books

We discussed a number of books that relate to testing but are not testing specific (most systematic testing books regurgitate the same thing and don’t offer a lot of value). The books we discussed were books on cognition, human eco-systems, general systems, paradigms and military based.

They had nothing to do with testing and EVERYTHING to do with testing.

An example of one of the books discussed was The book of five rings by Miyamoto Musashi. A literary classic, this book has relevance to testing. There is no right syllabus or right glossary rather it is about finding the most effective way to test – learning many ways, not just one way.

(I will post a list of books we discuss in another post).

ER by James Bach

James then gave a rather interesting perspective on some of the debates/discussions and frustrations he has had with certification programs since the ’90’s (Not just ISTQB). This was an insightful ER in that we could relate to the  effects of overly theoretical, poorly thought out certification program(s) that do not empower testers at all (so James ER resonated a lot with us). In fact, what we are left with are not better skilled testers but indoctrinated subject matter experts. This is a real danger and James ER emphasised this sad fact to many in the room. Not all certified testers value certification but do so because they are motivated by fear on some level. Refer to this great blog post on this topic. James ER fitted in quite nicely with the theme because while we identified the short comings of such certification schemes, we also spent a lot time discussing alternate ways to upskill testers. This was immensely valuable.

It is fair to say that amongst this leadership group is a general uneasiness towards the value of certification – at the very least its nothing more than possum certification, at the worst its giving management and HR the ability to discriminate based on a nothing piece of paper.

This led to a discussion on finding ways that testers can improve their problem finding and problem solving skills – skills that are central to becoming a good tester.

The dice game

James introduced the dice game to the leadership group (I shall not get into specifics here as it may ruin the surprise). This game demonstrates the critical thinking and problem solving that is needed to become a good tester. Four of us already knew the dice game so we acted as observers. Our role as observers was to list the skills and attributes that each team (of 3 or 4) exhibit in trying to solve the puzzle. What was interesting at the end of the game were the range of skills  used to solve the puzzle (teamwork, collaboration, communication, general systems thinking, boundary analysis, equivalence partitioning, data modelling, OFAT, MFAT and so on).

These skills you don’t get on a certification course. These skills are practical, real and meaningful.


A fantastic two days! A peer conference that was so valuable. It has created a buzz, it has brought together a community, developed leaders, spawn good community building work – it will be something that will happen again!

Thank you first of all to James Bach for his mentoring, guidance and sponsorship before, during and after KWST. Thank you to the 17 software testing leaders in New Zealand who came from all over to attend and thank you to the Software Education team who hosted a magnificent conference.