Experiences of Copenhagen Context

I recently attended “Copenhagen Context” – a conference that is focussed towards context driven testing. It was based in Copenhagen – as if you hadn’t guessed that already by its name… 🙂
There were so many great talks and really inspirational speakers at the conference, so I really want to share my experience with you.

The format

The conference consisted of 2 days. The first day was a workshop day consisting of many full day and half day workshop sessions, and the second day was a 3 track conference day with a total of 25 international speakers.

The workshop day

I spent my time in Tony Bruce’s workshop, entitled: “Questions are powerful – use them effectively“. The workshop was all about different types and styles of questions that can be used for different purposes, to uncover lots of different types of information. It opened my eyes a bit about now much information we lack before we decide to jump on actioning things (take software for example!!).
I really like Tony’s style with his workshops. He lets people learn! He’ll ask an open question and leave that awkward silence hanging until someone answers (which is actually called “the silent treatment”, which he taught us). It really helps people learn.
Also, at one point we had a room full of testers playing the game “20 questions”. It was the longest game of 20 questions that I have played in my life, as we were testing each question to try and make it as effective as possible – narrowing down the variables and different dynamics; size, shape, material, whether it was purchasable, whether it was common, etc… In the end we didn’t get it, but we came close! It was a fun session.

The whisky tasting

I had the pleasure of meeting Graham Freeburn in Copenhagen (@freeburn_g on twitter). Graham was the organiser of the Whisky Tasting evenings. I am an avid whisky lover and I actually brought a bottle of my own that I was able to contribute (the Lagavulin on the right). Graham brought along some absolutely amazing whiskies for everyone to try, and I was well impressed with his knowledge of good scotch and was well impressed when he walked in with his kilt! I should have brought mine! 🙂

I found out that this is a regular occurrence at Copenhagen Context, so I hope I can get involved again next year. I’ll definitely bring my kilt if I get to attend again.

The keynotes

There were 2 keynotes on the day (one opening and one closing). One by Fiona Charles (from the States) and Anne-Marie Charrett (from Australia). Both are well respected members of the software testing and agile world-wide communities. Their talk was titled: “A Tale Of Two Contexts“, and was structured where Anne-Marie pitched her context as an agile coach in a Kanban environment, releasing 3 times a day, while Fiona’s context was within a Waterfall environment, with a 6 month release cycle.
It was interesting to see the conversation evolve into a debate about pro’s and con’s of each of their contexts. It really truly highlighted that there is no best practise! And that practises only become useful based on your context (taking into account your environment, tools, skills, knowledge, company mind-sets, afforded timescales, clients desires, etc).
I was impressed by their talk, and it certainly stemmed some good conversations in the socialising during the conference breaks.
The second keynote was from Rob Sabourin, a Software Engineer who is also from the US too. His keynote was entitled “Value Sync“, which he describes as “an effort to align people’s expectations for the effort in hand”. Robert spoke about 3 different properties of “value”- emphatic values, dynamic values and emergent values.

The talks

There were tons of appealing talks on the day too. I decided to sit in track 1 (the “Pjerrot” conference room).
A good friend of mine, Helena Jaret-Mae conducted her talk on “A Meditation on Power and Change“, which dove into what it means to be a “change agent” and her experiences of influencing change and overcoming challenges. All while relating her experiences back to the topic of “power”, and the many perspectives of how people percieve power to be like an object. Helena used a stress ball to emphasis this – passing it to people to give them power of a conversation. It was a very effective demonstration.
Up after Helena, was Katrina Clokie from New Zealand. Katrina is best known within the international testing community for challenging some of the most popular testers regarding their models, and this talk titled “A Community Discussion” was no different. This time, she challenged the model structure of the Context-Driven Testing community, presenting her own model on how she feels it should be focussed. I liked Katrina’s model. It was based on her blog post that she posted back in 2014 (http://katrinatester.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/the-context-driven-testing-community.html), which I had seen previously. But it was interesting how the room was split between this model and James Bach’s model on the testing community (also shown on Katrina’s blog post).
The debate from this talk certainly flowed into the following breaks, which is good. For me, conversations like this allow us to enhance our models, and view different perspectives. (Remember all models are fallible!).
Following Katrina was another friend – Sami Soderblom, from Finland. Sami’s talk was about “Anti-fragility” and he discussed his approach for the past year in setting up “tribal” working environments. “Ultimately the tribes form a cell structure that improves from change and for its part realises the antifragile ideal”. It was a very interesting talk, but admittedly, my mind started drifting towards my own session that was coming up after Sami.
The topic for my own talk was about a story from an experience that I had with a red button when I relocated to Shanghai. The button was on the wall behind the TV next to a wall socket, and having been told by my wife that I wasn’t allowed to press it I began my journey of trying to discover the purpose of the button. It’s a funny story that closely relates to software testing, with undertaking investigatory activities to uncover information, rule breaking, utilising emotions to uncover problems, and I also dive into the curiosity gene (DRD4-7R).

Overall it was a great conference

I really enjoyed attending this conference.  There was loads to learn from the talks and even more to learn from peers within the industry. People such as; Ilari Henrik Aegerter, Richard Bradshaw, Huib Schoots, Santhosh Tuppad, Ben Kelly, plus many many more people. The stories shared are so valuable and have given me some good ideas to take forward too.
All the talks from Copenhagen Context were recorded too, so look out for the videos appearing on their website: www.copenhagencontext.com
Finally, I need to mention Morten Hougaard and the team behind Copenhagen Context. What a fantastic conference that they’ve put on. Hats off to them!

2 thoughts on “Experiences of Copenhagen Context

  1. Hi Dan, is seems you guys had some great context in Copenhagen! I am now super curious about your red button but will have to wait for the videos to be published 😦
    Do you have a hands down favourite moment at the conf.? (whiskey tasting excluded)
    By the way, the whiskey picture doesn’t load for me
    Thanks for the report,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment Gus!
      Actually, I really enjoyed doing my talk. There was some humour in there and I got some great feedback from it.

      Another favourite talk of the conference was Helena’s talk. That was great too. And of course it was great seeing old friends and meeting new ones (as you fo at a conference!)

      Hopefully the videos will be out soon so you can find out about the red button! I dont want to give it away. Haha.

      Liked by 1 person

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