Lessons Learned from Agile Testing Days (Day 1)!

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be able to attend Agile Testing Days, which was held in Potsdam, Germany.
My employers bought 2 tickets to the event and put them up for a competition to the test team and I managed to obtain one along with my colleague Paul Coletti.Although we didn’t have tickets for the tutorials on the first day, I met so many amazing, influential people and learned so much from the conference talks, the afternoon workshop sessions and the socializing that pertains at conferences such as this one. I can say hands down that it was the best conference I have ever been to!

Here is a recap of the talks with my notes from day 1:

Keynote: “Agile Testing is nonsense, because Agile is Testing by Andrea Tomasini

Andrea had the challenge of opening the conference with his keynote, and he opened it with a bold statement: “Agile Testing is Nonsense”. He went on to explain his reasoning behind this and how he believes that agile is testing and that testing is an attitude. He went on to give some valuable information, such as the 3 main dysfunctions of any system; overburden, unnecessary variations and wasteful activities.

I really enjoyed this keynote and I thought Andrea done a great job encapsulating the audience! My notes are below.

My notes from "Agile Testing is nonsense, because Agile is Testing"
My notes from “Agile Testing is nonsense, because Agile is Testing”

Flying Under The Radar – how conventional testing was secretly transformed into sapient testing” by Sami Söderblom

Sami’s talk was fantastic! He gave an insight into the difficulties of working for a large-scale corporate companies that have a fear of moving away from the Waterfall and ISTQB ways. Sami shared ideas that he himself has utilized in being able to advance your conventional testing to the sapient, exploratory, lightweight arena while initially keeping it under the radar to prevent any fight back from the big corporation. He gave an insight into how to get rid of chunky test scripts and use mind maps instead. And he spoke about how to overcome unneeded metrics.

It was great meeting Sami too. His energy and enthusiasm for testing was contagious! I’m glad that I got to share some stories and hear about his experiences.

As I was so engaged in Sami’s talk that I’m afraid I didn’t take much notes on it… Do look out for the slides being put online though, as this talk is great!

Be a real team member
by Tony Bruce

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Tony has one of the best, engaging styles of involving the audience! He seems to manage to make it feel like a big group discussion and it works really well! His presentation was also in the style of a mind map, which I was very impressed with.

Tony spoke about what it means to be a team member. He spoke about “Belbin roles”, which I had never heard of before, but are very interesting! He also gave some great ideas on how to be a great team member, such as: “listen”, “invest time with people” and “think AND do”.

Tony also touched on some influencing skills, such as the rule of reciprocation and the idea of socializing and sharing food. Influence skills are something I believe are a key skill for a software tester, and it’s something that I have touched on in my previous post “Why tea is a great tool for a tester!“. Here’s my notes:

Be a real team member
My notes from “Be a real team member”

Keynote: “Agile Testing: Strength through Interdependence
by Mary Gorman

Mary’s talk was very interesting. It opened my mind a bit about regarding the dependencies and inter-dependencies within my own organization.

Mary discussed the different types of inter-dependencies; Reciprocal Inter-dependencies, Sequential Inter-dependencies, Pooled Inter-dependencies and Comprehensive Inter-dependencies.

The talk then went in the direction of talking about “trust” and the 3 C’s of trust. One of the best quotes from the conference came from Mary, when she said: “It’s the goal… Not the role”. This is something that I believe in and strengthens my opinion that the team should have a common goal and be as collaborative and together as possible to achieve that common goal! Here are my notes:

"Agile Testing - Strength Through Interdependence" by Mary Gorman
My notes from “Agile Testing – Strength Through Interdependence”

Workshop: “Tester Roundtables: Bring Problems, Discover Solutions at ATD
by Peter Walen

Pete is one of the nicest guys I have ever met! He is such an inspiration with his enthusiasm and his workshop was fantastic!

I initially went into the round table session as I had a few questions and problems that I wanted to hear people’s opinions on regarding the report-ability of SBTM across multiple teams that all use different methods (but that’s a post for another day!). We ended up settling on a different, but very interesting discussion about the “3rd order of ignorance”. To try to get your head around this, it essentially means ‘the things we don’t know that we don’t know’ (as opposed to the 2nd order of ignorance, which is ‘the things that we don’t know’).

There was an initial phase of obtaining an explanation of the problem in more detail and then we went on to discuss the impact interactions surrounding the problem and the possible solutions. Pete introduced a modified SWOT chart, where we created 4 quadrants and titled each quadrant; “Constraints/Road Blocks”, “Assumptions”, “Tasks” and “Stakeholders”. This worked well as an aid for us to be able to break down the problem and discuss to a higher degree some more focused potential solutions. Pete has blogged about the whole workshop experience. See his blog here!

I enjoyed the round table session and I thoroughly enjoyed Pete’s company over the course of the remainder of the conference when we shared some puzzles, stories, a few wee drams and even some Scottish folk songs!! 🙂

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