Greediness, Ignorance and Incompetence – Are You In?

Current topic: lawsuit between Accenture and Hertz. In the same time, you know, this is not about those two companies. This is about business world meeting software development world and not understanding each other. …and about profit, interest and presumption. Soon after initial news came out, inside information surfaced:  CIO was making money for own pocket by “saving” companies money on project.

If you work in IT projects, sooner or later you will experience something similar. I have stories myself. Customers PM (no IT background) gave us (working Kanban team) introduction into Kanban (20 step waterfall). Customers Purchasing Manager (no IT background) making decision about agile or not agile and our Sales Manager (no agile understanding) kicking me under the table when I tried to explain differences (the customer was big company and they wanted publicity that it is possible for them to do agile). Last one: customer wanted performance tests without paying money for a server. Greediness, ignorance and incompetence – software development projects trinity. On both sides in management level. Yes, management level. In 20 years I have not met developer who would want to code bad software. But I have seen so many people going silent, because nobody listens and nobody wants to know. Of course there are exceptions! In my experience working on own product was the one.

As a trainer I keep seeing people, who lost their hope to do a good job. Sarcasm on: World is not driven by good job, world keeps spinning because of profit. Sarcasm off. Forget about business and software development, look into climate change. This is about society which knows, but does not react.

I love software development, I really do! That is why I became a trainer. I don’t want to be part of trinity movement. I want to explain customers and what is software requirement and why it is a key element in whole project. I want to train software people to question requirements. I want to coach people not to blindly believe that software development method will guarantee project success. Agile works for me, because for me Agile Manifesto and its 12 principles is common sense. Why should I force you to accept it as your common sense?

Choose the one which fits you the best!




The Champion Of 1 Year Dojo Membership

I have chosen my champion (I watched Shazam! with my son on holidays) for paid 1 year Dojo membership. But first some numbers. My tweets got some attention:

People from MinistryOfTesting supported my initiative: my tweets were retweeted by Mark and published in MOT newsletter. Even if tweet engagements looks good, my blog post with instructions how to apply was viewed only 172 times. Now you may guess how many applications did I got.

I got four (4) applications and two emails with support/thank you for initiative. That means that everyone who participated had 25% chances to get paid membership.

Because I have done this before, it was very important to me to be clear how I will choose the winner: “Information, how will you use it and why you deserve it more then others, will help me to choose.” I wanted to be sure that I am giving away for the right person, the one who will really use it. After reading and rereading submissions, I have the feeling that only one submission showed the commitment I was looking for.

I have chosen my champion and it is Mike. Congratulations, Mike! His submission email has 904 words (others between 113 and 148), those words describe his detailed experienced so far in testing(with many links, I suggest you to read his blog) and what he wants to do with paid Dojo membership. This man has set a target and he works towards it.

To others competitors – well done! I was touched that you copied (font size is different then the rest of the email, it means it has to be copied) my name (I get so many emails with my name wrong, that this is really a highlight for me). Keep going! You did not win this time, but there are many other opportunities! Remember to ask for things you want – it may happen that you will get what you asked for.

Approach To Test Automation

Test automation – frequent topic in testing community, but for businesses and developers it is still something new and unknown. This blog post is very simple, high level my lessons learned in the field.


Start by choosing your test automation strategy.  Business sees Test Automation as way to save money. The problem is, if you don’t have strategy and simply write 1000 automated tests, then sooner or later your team will become slower and slower. To pick up speed and save money, test automation has to be flexible and lean. Forget about testing-all-the-things, it is not possible and is wasteful. If your system has 1000 automated tests, your team has to maintain 1000 automated tests. Depending how you created your tests and how oft you will change your software – it can be a LOT.

Martin Fowler created great thinking tool: Test Automation Pyramid

Focus on unit tests, because this is the fastest way how developer can find out that her/his new code broke already existing code.

Testing in Agile world

If you are living in agile world, I would suggest you to read “Agile testing” by Janet Gregory & Lisa Crispin. They have great chapter on test automation with thought provoking mind map. I learned from Janet, test automation approach to write e2e tests for epics, integration tests for stories and unit tests for tasks.

Remember: in agile we believe in zero-bug policy. That means as well that all automated test need to be active and results has to be green. all the time.

e2e test Criteria

Test Automation criteria is part of your strategy because it answers the question: What to automate? Typical approach for e2e is to automate:

  1. only standard features
  2. only features with high risk
  3. only most used configurations

Many teams use that criteria to reduce test automation which has grown too big. My suggestion in trainings is – from very beginning automate only really necessary test cases. If you doubt, then don’t automate on e2e level, talk with your team how you could catch it on integration or unit level.


The biggest challenge in Test Automation is not to write a script, but to decide what to automate and what not to automate. You will easily find people who can automate 1000 tests, but not so easy to find people who can create test automation strategy and efficient test automation design. Just like there are many software developers, but not so many software architects.

If you have strategy in place then you will understand how wrong are statements similar to this: “I often write e2e automated tests for bugs raised by customer because if we made that mistake once, we will likely make it again”. We have to learn from bugs raised by customers, we need to understand what went wrong, but we cannot test everything and it is very unprofessional to automate everything. Testers and developers should learn to think profitably.

If you want to learn more, I suggest you to check what Angie Jones wrote about test automation, or better, her free course on test automation strategy.


Few days after I published this post, Lisa, in cooperation with Joe, published amazing collection of Test Automation Models. My suggestion: explore Rob Meaney’s Risk Mapping and Katrina Clokie’s DevOps Bug Filter. Maybe it is something for your team.

Words Has Meanings: Learning

This is conversation between two friends

Kris: I have to tell you a secret… I have big problem with “learning” if we talk about ET (exploratory testing).

Lisa: Hmm… It’s always been taught to me as “learning about our product”. But I am not an ET expert by any means.

Kris: For me “learning” means “to change behaviour”

Lisa: oh, interesting! for me it’s just gathering knowledge

Kris: Gathering information doesn’t include using it. You use information by changing your behaviour (huge excursion in my experience as mother and trainer). But only thing what we want to change is the software. So no real learning on human side.

Lisa: We might learn about features we are missing?

Kris: That is functional or contractual acceptance testing. No learning.

Lisa: So if I do exploratory testing on some feature, and then I realize, before customers can use this feature, they need another capability that we haven’t even thought of before – I didn’t learn something? Or if I find something is really hard to use – I didn’t learn something?

Kris: How do you know that they need something else? Hard to use – do you mean usability? Testing usability?

Lisa: How do I know? Because I’m exploring as a particular persona or role or job, I have a scenario of what I want to accomplish with the app, and I run into a roadblock. The persona is blocked, Lisa has learned that we didn’t provide a necessary capability.

We might be splitting hairs on words and semantics, but exploratory testing is called a process of learning, and it has seems correct to me.

Kris: For me it is very important to clarify what we mean by words. I always liked language (in Latvian we have more then 30 words how we call a mother), but as older I get as more aware I am about layers of language, coded messages and communication in general. People, who name things, make mistakes (just like everybody else). I am not looking for fight… It just feels wrong to call it “learning” if we only gather information.

Lisa: OK

Kris: The way how I understand whole team approach is that if we have situation as you described it, the tester in the team should be able to identify and categorise the problem. Is it functionality, usability or performance? then to decide what following tests should the team run to gather missing information.

Am I aiming too high?

Lisa: IME it works best if the tester collaborates with the team to do all that. We don’t want to be the safety net so that everyone relies on us to point out issues. We want to help teammates prevent the issues from happening in the first place by building shared understanding of features, using good tech practices for code correctness, fast feedback loops with automation, exploratory testing before committing changes…

More a consultant role than doing all the testing for the team.

You know, you have some interesting ideas here, it would be nice to discuss this on the AgileTestingFellow slack.

Kris: Maybe… but I don’t feel there yet. And I didn’t mean that tester is a safety net. What I meant is that tester has this knowledge about testing techniques and approaches and she/he guides the team. This is what I understand with tester as testing coach for the team.

Lisa: Sure but we have to be continually helping everyone else ramp up those skills. If we make all decisions ourselves, we take autonomy about testing away from the rest of the team. Guides, yes, that’s the ticket

Kris: Yes, helping others. But tester should be able to recognise it her-/himself first. Only then she/he can guide others.

Lisa: I like what you say there about recognizing it in ourselves.


Post Scriptum

I really, really LIKE how James Lyndsay phrased it:
“Systems are weird. Are you looking for trouble? Exploratory testing can help you to find unexpected truth, about what you really got.”

Exploratory testing is technique to find out, gather information. As a team we will decide later what we want to do with information with gathered. Maybe we will ignore it, because risk is too low, maybe we will use it and make decision based on it. And maybe we will learn out of it, adapt our behaviour and leave the issue in the past. If it will not reappear, then we really can tell: “we learned something!”

#PayItForward – Dojo Membership

This is my last and final community give away to finalise my TestBash Germany journey.

Two years in a row I donated a ticket to Test Bash Germany, this year I planed to do the same, but one discussion on Twitter changed my mind. This year with little effort you can get a 1 year Dojo membership and to watch the talks from ALL the TestBashes.

You said “little” effort?

Only thing you need to do is to convince me that you really need the Dojo membership. Information, how will you use it and why you deserve it more then others, will help me to choose.

Where to send it?


21.4.2019 7a.m. German time. I will announce the winner on 22.4.2019 12:12 via blog post.

What do I expect from you?

To learn and to fulfil yourself.


Update: and the winner is…

Why Are You Here?

cheek to cheek mentoring session

Besides being leader and matchmaker for SpeakEasy initiative (we are looking for mentors, talk to me if you are interested), I also have two mentees. Both happens to live in India, both are already experienced testing professionals and both explore their way to public speaking. My mentees are very different personalities and their speaking journeys are very different, but this week with both of them I talked about how to engaged with audience and how to adapt/reshape talk for particular group.


My work, giving trainings, and my hobby, giving talks and workshops, complement each other in a nice way. At conferences I can experiment new ideas or fulfill my personal goals and talk about topics I care, at work I have to deliver. As a trainer I have my routine. Every training I start with two questions: 

1)    Who you are?

2)    Why you are here? 


About the first question – I am curious and really want to know with whom I will spend next few days. Second question is my way to find out background story. Why you have chosen to be here, what is your exit criteria for this training? I like to put it on flipchart and keep visible during whole training. Why? It helps to stay focused. That includes that you are responsible to achieve your goals and you will give me continuous feedback how we are doing, what you are still missing. Another thing I am aware of, that sometimes people are sent to trainings, they don’t want to be there, they don’t want to learn and I need to deal with that. I always say that I do not force people to attend trainings, but my take is: we are here and, hey, let’s make the best out of it!


This is my trainer routine, I ask questions and explain ground rules around responsibility of outcome. I have tried few other things, but always come back to this as most effective way how to start a training.


Back to speaking. If I give a workshop during conference, I start in similar way as a training. If group is bigger than 10 people, then I skip the first question. For a track talk you need to play another game. To get information you need about your audience you can ask questions where people need to raise their hand. Something like this: “Raise your hand if you work as tester! OK… one third of the group. Now raise your hand if you are developer!” then continue with something like “raise your hand if you want to learn about explorative testing!”. Time to time situations happen when somebody gets up and rushes out to the door. Conferences are overwhelming and people oft mix rooms, if this happened than now is the time to fix it. 


Now back to mentoring to make the full circle. One of my mentees is at the beginning of talking. She has a topic and currently explores how to create an abstract and a talk. The second is going fast forward the finish line. She has topic, good abstract, slides are done, now submitting and practicing the talk. To both of them I asked my two questions. You can create a talk to one specific target group and to address their issues/problems/challenges. Or you can create one more general talk and reshape it during the presentation. To achieve that I put more pictures & less text on my slides, this gives me freedom to change it, if audience does not respond as I imagined they will. 


For me speaking means to be authentic me and to listen to my audience and their needs. Yes, I am standing on a stage, but this is not about me. This is about you, listening my story, taking parts, which fits to you, and making your (working) life better/easier.

So… why are you here?

Ethical Dilemma #MachineLearning #AI

Everyone talks about AI, I am ready to give you my 5 cents.

I started to study IT 20 years ago. In my circle AI was a thing, I thought I want to belong to the cool gang make it as my topic as well. But my enthusiasm did not last for a long time. I gave up when I realised in what early stage is it and how hopeless it is. I gave up on AI after I learned about ethics dilemma – train out of control, switch and dilemma whom to kill. My professor was amused about our reaction, I got depressed by finding puzzle which I cannot solve. Now 20 years later, being a mother and raising three children, I see unsolvable puzzles everywhere. I can only hope that my three natural intellects will learn the “right” ethics, but there is no guarantee.

My oldest daughter yesterday watch a horror movie for the first time in her life. She is twelve & we are the family who usually watches Peppa Pig or biathlon welt cup. We have not watch all Harry Potter movies yet, because she was too scared! She thought that the movie is named Walking Dad. When she realised that dad is dead, she felt that it is tool late and did not want to let her friend down. So she stayed there and watch it… It is long story how and why, but one of topics what we were discussing yesterday – if you cannot help your friend anymore (she is getting medical help), maybe it is time to end the friendship if this friendship takes too much from you. We spent all afternoon talking and believe me, I never ever thought that I will suggest my child to think about leaving her friend in trouble. So unethical! At the end it will be her decision (it is not only about the movie). As a trainer and coach, it is part of my job – to help people, but not to let their problems to become my problems.

We created the reality of big data. We created this artificial problem, now we need solution. Solution is basically analysis of data, but we are too lazy to do it ourselves, so we want that algorithms do analysis and learning for us. For me it looks like we are creating next artificial problem…  This is why I like love letter written by Smita. It is about data & algorithm and our ability to see behind it. I hope we will question our own algorithms (human behaviour) as well.

I may look like like I know something, but in fact I know nothing. Am I at the beginning or at the end of this journey?

Learning stages (my interpretation):

  • Beginning: I know nothing
  • Years 1-3: I know some things
  • Years 4-7: I don’t know what I don’t know
  • Years 8-12: I know *everything*
  • Years 13+: I know nothing

You may also want to read “Ethics and Artificial Intelligence: The Moral Compass of a Machine” written by Kris Hammond.

Kate Gregory: Code Quality

As a trainer I give a training every week, another group of people and one of 3 topics: testing, requirements, quality with or without agile. To entertain myself, each time I tell another stories and mention another resources. There are no identical trainings. To keep an overview, I decided to create collection of sources I usually mention.

I give trainings but I also continuously learn. My newest discovery is Kate Gregory. Thank you Patricia that you tweeted during Kates keynote and afterwards shared link to the recording.

Kate is developer and it is her keynote on developer conference, but do not get scared by it! In her talk she explains how to find emotions in code and gives some ideas what to do with those. For me she talks about code quality. Many aspects, what she touches in her talk, deeply resonates with me. This is exactly what I think everyone in QA should talk about.

In her speakers requirements Kate says she prioritize events who publish and gives free access to her talks (wow!), so you if you like this one, you can easily find other talks of her (I am trying to watch all of them). Kate also writes, mentors, develops software and give trainings.

Janet Gregory: 3 Blog Posts

As a trainer I give a training every week, another group of people and one of 3 topics: testing, requirements, quality with or without agile. To entertain myself, each time I tell another stories and mention another resources. There are no identical trainings. To keep an overview I decided to do little collection of sources I usually mention and additionally to highlight 3 blog posts.

When I read Agile Testing, book written by Janet Gregory and Lisa Crispin, I could not imagine that few years later I will teach her & Lisas training. Over the years Janet has helped me to write articles and to find my voice in testing community. I am big fan of Agile Testing Fellowship and excited to be part of it.

Here are Janets 3 blog posts:

  1. Shift Left – Why I Don’t Like the Term

  2. Do You Need A Test Column? …Lets Talk.

  3. Removing Clutter – Removing Defects

Have fun while learning!

Exploratory Testing: Peer Conference #ET19

16th February 2019 in the FlyWire office, Valencia, Spain: the time and place for a memorable exploratory testing peer conference!

Important things first

  1. The statement of the peer conference was: “It is 35 years since Cem Kaner described and named Exploratory Testing. What has changed? Where are we standing?”
  2. Many of the attendees tweeted during the event. Look for hashtag #ET19
  3. Results, ideas, following material will be collected and published on Give us time to fill it.
  4. Following events will be coming. Stay tuned if you want to participate.

Attendees and rules

I love this tweet from Marianne – it shows almost all of #ET19 attendees (few joined later) and the introduction of K-Cards.

We wanted to give voice to everyone and take voice away if it was misused or a person talked too much and didn’t let others to share their ideas. This is why we used K-Cards, which was new tool for almost everyone. During ETC I was sitting next to Elizabeth as she explained the rules to Alex, who during peer conference took uneasy role of facilitator. For the cards and usage of them we need to thank Paul Holland and his wife Karen. I am very happy that I could learn this method. I already started to create my cards and will use some of Marianne’s illustrations as inspiration. So hier are the cards and their explanation:

·         Green: Please place me on the new thread list – NEW IDEA
·         Yellow: Please place me on the same thread list – EXTENSION TO CURRENT TOPIC
·         Red: I must speak now (or important admin issue: e.g.: I can’t hear) – ANNOUNCEMENT
·         Blue: I feel this discussion is becoming (or has become) a rat hole. – NOT ON TRACK

We did not have any cards in blue, so we used orange as you can see in Marianne’s tweet. But I agree with Paul, that colours need to be really bright or neon. K-Cards helped us to stay on the topic and tracking who spoke, helped us to moderate that everyone’s voice gets heard. Surprisingly I was the first and only one whose voice was taken away, even to that point I have spoken only twice. As in every facilitated conversation the moderator has a lot of influence – to go on with yellow cards or green ones, to give or to take the voice. How I reacted on this action was that I started to save my speaking time for green cards, if I remember right I spoke only on 2 or 3 yellow cards and always at the end, when I saw that others are not covering that point. I would suggest to everyone who is used to speak a lot to follow a similar pattern.

Topics & Drawbacks

When we got the invitation to the peer conference, we got a homework as well. To think about our experience and to choose one of the stories we want to present to the group and to have a discussion about. After we met altogether and decided on ground rules (Twitter – yes or no?, does everyone is OK by taking and publishing pictures? etc), we got 2 minutes to write our experience story (one story per person) on post-it. We placed post-its on the board and everyone got 20 seconds to present  the story to the group. This was the first drawback: not everyone took the homework seriously and prepared something or thought about how the group could contribute, or what kind of help they expected from the group. After all presentations where done, every participant got three voting dots. It turned out that the majority of dots got people who we are used to see on the stage. I keep thinking, was it unconscious choice based on speaker or conscious choice of topic. I wanted to capture all offered topics, but after checking my notes, I realised that I did not…

If you want to know which topics has been presented, Marianne’s sketchnotes are irreplaceable!

  1. Teaching Exploratory Testing to Developers by Anne-Marie

2. Mobbing With Intent by Maaret

3. Exploring Unit Tests by James

4. Scaling ET in Dark Scrum Organisations by Eric

5. How To Explain Exploratory Testing In 5 Minutes by me. I am currently working on separate blog post to describe learnings in detail.

6. Microheuristics by Alex

Every presenter got 10 minutes to tell the experience story, we voted for. Clarifying questions from the group was included in those 10 minutes. Some presentations were really good, but it was not clear how we as the group can contribute to the topic. Timer rung that 10 minutes are over, so we started facilitated open session with the K-Cards.

Another drawback from my point of view – no matter whether the statement was clear, we tended to speak too much on “what is exploratory testing” and less on concrete tools and  “what we can do to improve it”. Because it was the first peer conference for many of us and the tools what we used were new, I guess if we would have had another day, we would have overcome these drawbacks with ease as we became aware of them thought the day .


I was amazed by the K-Cards. I was excited about the topic and statement. I appreciate Maaret for organising peer conference and Jokin & his team for being amazing hosts. A big inspiration was Marianne, who not only took sketch notes on the event, but after I revealed in retrospective that I did not feel safe to raise the orange card (sliding away from the topic), she took initiative and used it herself. Another thanks goes to Marianne for supporting my topic to stay on track. I thought I made clear in my introduction I do not want to talk about giving trainings nor that exploratory testing is important and it is important to learn it, but only how to  explain it in 5 minutes. Unfortunately the group did not get it, so Marianne challenged the group to do exactly what I asked them to do.

After the session James came to me and gave a short presentation how he explains exploratory testing for business people (I wanted to know it since I first talked to him about ET & puzzles). James has been giving trainings on exploratory testing for years. You can find his four exercises for teaching ET on his website; they are free to use. He is also the creator of different puzzles. Later that day, James slided a piece of paper to me. On it was his elevator pitch for exploratory testing:

“Systems are weird. Are you looking for trouble? Exploratory Testing can help you to find unexpected truth, about what you really got.”

Another experience exploratory testing trainer Anne-Marie has collected different sources on the topic. If you have not attended her training with robots, put it on your to do list!


After we left the peer conference most of the group went to coffee place or direct to the hotel. But I needed some quiet time to rethink and categorise my thoughts, so I was extremely happy that Jess shared the same necessity. We walked and talked for three hours. We talked about many things, but the most important piece is this: we would never expect that somebody would be able to play violin after several hours show & tell, so why do we expect that from people who wants to learn exploratory testing? I have been thinking about this since then. As a trainer I know how many people are missing basics, many are using terms in context without understanding. I think we need to stop assuming what others know or understand and to start to teach exploratory testing from very beginning. I am looking forward to the article written by Jess.

Next Steps

Inspired by the conferences (ETC & peer) and conversation with Jess, I decided to create a training which explains basics of exploratory testing. I like to use similarity to music – nobody learns to play an instrument in day or two. I used to play flute and every week we had at least two lessons in solfége, what other kids hated. I loved it, because for me it was like mathematics, another subject what I loved. No wonder that one of my favourite books is The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse. With all that in my mind I am playing with thoughts to create a training as solfége,  7 questions just like 7 tones. Typical human voice covers 2-3 octaves, that would be 2-3 exploratory testing sessions, each 1-2 days long. Oh, I already have so much fun!