Lessons Learned from Agile Testing Days (Day 3)!

By the time the third day came, I was already feeling the haze of “information overload” and had been up late on the previous night socializing with some great testers, such as Daniel Maslyn, Sami Söderblom, Tom Mantsch,  Jose Lima, Adam Knight, Chris George, Pete Walen, Huib Schoots, Tony Bruce, Gus Evangelisti and many more amazing people from all over the world!

If you haven’t been to a conference like Agile Testing Days before, then I strongly advise that you try your hardest to get to one – the conversations that you are able to have at the end of each day over a beer or two (or even some whisky!) offer just as much if not more value, from being able to discuss and listen to everyone’s stories and learn from everyone’s experiences. We were even able to try out some puzzles and games at the bar and in the lobby too, which was great fun!

Anyway, on with my summary from day 3:

Keynote: “Visualizing Qualityby David Evans

I’ve seen David talk a few times before and I really like his style of presenting. His talk was essentially about how to use visual aids for reporting, such as Heat Maps, Info-graphics, Carto-grams and Story Maps. It definitely offered me a few fresh ideas on how to visually report my testing back to my organization.

David also mentioned about using scaling methods in our diagrams – by size, value, usage and risk. Although he mentioned about being aware not to use your models or diagrams incorrectly. He gave a couple of great examples of this – the map of the London Underground system, which does not come close to matching the real distances various tube stations on a real map (Lancaster Gate and Paddington stations being a prime example, where the two are very close together but don’t look close according to the London Underground map).

Another example that he used was something that I had discussed with my colleague Paul on the flight over to the conference, which was regarding the airplane path simulator that is used on the screens on the airplane to show where the plane is flying over at that point in time… The scale of the plane is so disproportionate that it looks like you could board the front of the plane in London and walk to the back of the plane to get off in Berlin!

One more thing that David mentioned in his talk was “The McGurk Effect”. This is where your brain is fooled into believing that you are hearing something because you see something that you relate to the sound that you think you hear… It seems like a similar phenomenon to “Inattentional Blindness” and it’s something that I definitely want to do more research on and investigate how it might affect us during our testing!

My notes on David’s talk:

My notes from "Visualising Quality"
My notes from “Visualizing Quality”

Natural Born Testers. Are you one? If not, then become one!
by Graham Thomas

Graham’s talk was one of my favorites of the conference. I wrote a post for The Testing Planet a while ago about whether testing was like a gene, where it’s not just a job, or even just a career, but you cant turn it off… Graham’s talk was similar, but he his focus games, which was fun!

He made the points that we all like playing video games (which is true in my case) and computer games are very relevant and can teach us some key skills relating to testing! At first I was a bit dubious about what we can learn from playing computer games, but then he took us through playing Lemmings (if you don’t remember it, it was a fantastically addictive game from the ’90s that I believe originally was released for the Amiga games system).

It was amazing! Lemmings actually can teach us: multitasking, parallel processing, problem solving, time management and goal orientation. These are some key skills here!

Graham then stepped through some other games and highlighted other areas that they can teach us. It was such a fun session that taught us that playing games can teach us new things! Here’s my notes:

My notes from "Natural Born Testers - Are You One? If Not Then Become One"
My notes from “Natural Born Testers – Are You One? If Not Then Become One”

Resistance is Futile: The Hybrids have arrived” by
Daniel Maslyn

It was a pleasure meeting Daniel at ATD. He is so full of knowledge and has such an energy of enthusiasm for testing. And his talk was no exception to his personality!

Daniel spoke about the concept of being a “hybrid”. This is where you combine techniques and methods and skills to enhance them.He went on to speak about how there is so much differing terminology out there and that each different meaning leads to different rules being set but that there shouldn’t be so many rules… It should all be mutual agreements instead of rules.

His slides were great – they were very creative, and his talk was fairly fast paced but very gripping! He had one diagram that I thought was fantastic (my notes are a scribble of it and don’t do it any sort of justice whatsoever). Try and get hold of the slides when they become available online and check out that diagram!

One other thing that he mentioned was that everything should be seen as a source of information, which I wholeheartedly agree with! Here’s my notes:

My notes from "Resistence Is Futile - The Hybrid Has Arrived"
My notes from “Resistence Is Futile – The Hybrid Has Arrived”

Workshop: “10 Steps to Creative Problem Solving with Sketching
by Mohinder Khosla

I didn’t initially know what to expect from Mohinder’s session. I’ve always aimed to be creating with my mind mapping and note-taking, but I’ve heard of “sketch-noting”, but fear that my drawing skills are definitely lacking enough for me to be able to draw my notes in any sort of timely manner! 🙂

Mohinder started his workshop by explaining how the brain works – how the left hemisphere of your brain is very textual, logical and digital. Whereas the right hemisphere is more creative, colourful and sapient.

He handed us out a drawing pad each and a pencil and spoke about 5 different exercises that we were going to run through: drawing while focusing on perception, drawing text under various conditions, drawing various types of contrasting lines, drawing upside down and displaying emotions through shapes.

We discussed the various topics throughout the workshop. It was a great session and I got to draw many objects  as part of the exercises (some of my sketching could be found on twitter as it happened!). I thoroughly enjoyed myself and will definitely dabble in sketch-noting at my next conference that I get to attend! Here’s my normal boring old mind-map notes:

My notes from "10 Steps to Creative Problem Solving with Sketching"
My notes from “10 Steps to Creative Problem Solving with Sketching”

Keynote: “Build Bridges, Change Viewpoints, Delight Customers
by Lisa Crispin & Janet Gregory

Lisa and Janet started their ending keynote with a bit of entertaining role play! Pete Walen was the narrator and a few other people took part too. The story was about “the world as we knew it” with developers tossing code over the wall (they literally tossed soft toys over a partitioning wall to mimic this). The story then led on to “the SAP” superhero being introduced (super agile person). He then went on to create the agile team, where collaboration, harmony and happiness were the key results. Although it seemed a bit bizarre at first to see these testing legends do some role playing, it was very funny!

Janet and Lisa then began their talk which highlighted the problems that everyone previously had and the steps we’ve taken to overcome these problems and advance our industry. They touched on a lot of various ways to collaborate with the rest of the team, and why it’s important to collaborate. Then they spoke about how a culture change was required and how to continuously enhance the culture within your company.

At the end of Lisa and Janet’s talk, the opened the floor for people to talk about their stories and experiences of change. I managed to tell the story about how I accidentally deleted all of the data in one of my test script excel files and sent it to my customer (who was adamant that they needed me to produce for them)… I didn’t realize that I had deleted it until a week after I had sent them it and they hadn’t even noticed, which meant that they hadn’t even looked at it! :S
This allowed me to gain a strong foothold for influencing change in getting rid of the heavyweight test scripts and moving to a much more lightweight mind mapping process! 🙂

It was a great ending keynote, to end a great conference!
My notes on Janet and Lisa’s talk are below:

My notes from "Building Bridges, Change Viewpoints, Delight Customers"
My notes from “Building Bridges, Change Viewpoints, Delight Customers”

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