Attempt to Improve the Blog: Who are my Readers?

One thing what I want to improve in 2019 is my blogging. Not loosing a day, here come the first improvements.

I started blogging by sharing my current ideas and topics. The idea behind it was to track my personal development. My part was clear to me, but I had no idea about the readers. For a long time I did not know if somebody at all read the blog: I got some little traffic, but there was no sign that this somebody really read the article and found it useful. I kept writing and one day, I guess it was after it was added to MOT blog feed, system informed me about my very first follower. At the moment I have 46 followers in WordPress and 7, who subscribed per email.

In the mean time I started to learn about the tool I am using – WordPress. Many topics are still very blurry to me, e.g. where WordPress ends and Automatic starts, where exactly information is stored etc, but I am learning. WordPress shows me information where the readers come from. As you see from the graphic above, most of you come from Twitter or MinistryOfTesting websites. Facebook is a mystery to me, because I do not use it. What comes to search engines, no idea what they where looking for, because I do not see keywords. For more detailed information I would need to instal reader tracking, but I prefer to keep it very basic.

Once you landed on my page, the question is, what else do you read? For today it looks like this.

First three are my last blog posts, linked in right sidebar for each page on my blog. Funny thing is that I linked there last four blog post, but 4th does not appear on todays summary. Conclusions which I make here:

a) you already read Trainer Notes before;

b) no interested in my stories as a trainer;

c) you did not see it;

d) you had time to read only three blog posts;

e) there is something between my blog and you, who overrides my settings and shows only last three posts.

I could continue like this forever, but in software development we talk a lot about getting to know your users. If I see this blog as kind of product, that you, my dear reader, are user of it. So…

Here we come to the most important part. Call for feedback! Dear 53 followers and guest readers, I would really appreciate if you would share what you like in my blog and what you do not like, any suggestions, feedback or simply to say “hi!”. It would be great to get to know you! For this occasion I reopened comment feature. GDPR made me disable it, so be aware that by leaving a  comment, WordPress system will save your IP address and only possibility to delete it, is by deleting your comment.

Goodbye 2018

I love to write yearly roundups! It is the time when I put numbers to my feelings and celebrate my personal development. So, here it goes! 2017 was an amazing year, a lot of change and most of it positive. To compare, 2018 was much calmer year. Real working bee year.

What did go well

trainings/work

In 2018 I gave 29 trainings in 2 languages (DE & ENG, still hoping to give a training in LV) in 4 countries – Germany, Austria, Finnland and Rumania. I gave trainings around software quality, more specific testing and requirements, with and without agile dimension. From those 29 trainings, 17 was in-house trainings (in-house are not displayed on trendig website). I like to think that I helped 17 teams to become better with software quality. One team was special because all 9 students were developers. Some of them were giving trainings (agile, TDD etc) themselves. Their thank you for the testing training I gave them is one of my highlights this year. This training was special in another context as well. One of developers scored 100% in certification exam. This happened for the first time in my training career. I build trainings on stories and put more focus on discussion and less on exam questions, many of my students get 90something %, only 5 did not make it with first try. Anyway if I managed to bring just one team of developers closer to testing world, I mark 2018 as successful year.

I also worked on improvements and creation of new training material and wrote two articles. My first trendig article was on quality assurance, written mostly for managers and executives. Second article is addressed to whole delivery team about transition, testing and working as a team. In first whole team article I could scratch only the surface, stay with me others will follow soon.

speakeasy

In summer 2018 Anna-Marie and Fiona due involvements in other projects decided to handover SpeakEasy. Abby and me, we were mentees and after delivering our talks supporting SpeakEasy already for some time, so for us it was only logical to take over. But because we are heavily involved in several other projects we were cautious to commit. In that situation Maaret came as saver, she overtook organisational part and takes care of communication with conferences. We were lucky to have Ash on team as well, she enriches our start team with perspective and gentle push to find the focus and round up.

conferences

I am pretty happy with my two appearances in conferences. For the first time I did a workshop and for the first time I paired with someone. This someone was Lisa Crispin and I am still amazed how easy it was to work with her together. Working together with Lisa is my conference highlight of the year. I also like the workshop we created a LOT and hope to be able to give it as much as possible in upcoming conferences. I have already some confirmations, but need to wait until organisers will announce the program.

blogging

I wrote few blog posts less then previous year, but got more traffic (see the picture on the top). I am still searching how to shape my website and blog. I am writing for myself, but I am aware that others are reading as well. By look on topics where the traffic goes it gives me strange feeling and reveals delta between what I want to write about and what seems you want to read about. This is top 3 of most viewed posts:

  1. AM I A SEXIST?                                                                  with 941 views

  2. HOW YOU MEASURE SUCCESS IN TESTING?   with 308 views

  3. EXPLAINING SOFTWARE TESTING                        with 212 views

Unfortunately, articles which are important to me, like Attracting Girls To Engineering(71 views), Words Has Meanings – QA(51 views) and Today I Learned(47 views), are not under top 14. To serve readers, but to stay true to myself I decided to improve my blogging and to share more everyday stuff, things what I do as a trainer, consultant and speaker ( I thought it is boring, but after some private conversations discovered the opposite).

I notice other bloggers to put information about advertisements, paid products or affiliate programs. I guess this is the right time to say that I am not using any of it and everything I write, I write because I want to share or because I wanted to understand it better myself, did little research and then wrote a summary. Yes, I work at trendig and they pay me salary, but they pay me for being a trainer and not for writing my personal blog.

What did not go well

I got sick and could not really get well again. I had to cancel several events and despite of support of my team, I felt like I am letting them down by not carrying out with my commitments. Only after longer break, reflections to my last working years and acknowledgement what I did wrong, I could rejoin my team. Thank you, Jana for being there for me when I needed. I am happy to work for CEO, who cares for people so much.

meet-ups

TestParadies was project which suffered the most. To compare with 9 events in 2017, in 2018 I managed to organise only 3. Unfortunately due my current work situation there is no improvement to expect. I am calling for support. If no-one will be willing to help or overtake, I will have to close the meet-up.

 

Wishes for 2019

First and most important one – I want to get my health under control. By “health” I mean physical, but everything is connected, so… whole health.

Second,  to keep my believe system strong and keep changing world to be a better place by changing myself to be a better person. Leading by example works, I verified it.

Update: just noticed that this is my 100th blog post! Another reason to celebrate tonight, juhuu! 💃💃💃 Happy New Year, everyone!

Lisa Crispin: 3 Blog Posts

As a trainer every week I have another training, 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.

This week I will highlight Lisas work. I had the honour to create and run a workshop with her together and since then, I am huge Lisas fan (I was before already, but now HUGE fan.)  Her blog has all kind of posts – information about webinars, recordings, book reviews, pieces of information from her books and many, many, many situations of her daily work. Here are Lisas 3 blog posts I suggest you to read:

  1. Teamwork for building in quality
  2. Dressage, Discipline and Quality
  3. Team Commitment to Quality

Have fun while learning!

Plans For Valentines Day

Today is my happy day! In autumn as we at trendig planed our activities for 2019, I shared list of conferences I want to attend. We are pretty diverse team with diverse interests, but us much as it is possible company supports our personal development. Most of events I plan to attend as a speaker, but there is one where I will be on receiving not sending side. It is European Testing Conference. I find keynote lineup very interesting, I love technical talks and I think it great idea to run the same workshop twice! Just look to this schedule – very inspiring!

Today is my happy day because I do planing around it. Flights, hotels and so on. I usually take my vacation together with my family. It is our quality time. This year I decided to have some quality time with myself, so I will fly few days before the conference and do some sightseeing. I always wanted to visit Spain, but somehow it never happened.

Another positive thing about ETC – that will be first time when whole SpeakEasy team will come together. Cannot wait!

Trainer Notes

Agile Testing Quadrats

Weeks after Agile Testing Days were pretty intense. Every week another training. Business as usual? No. I do not know why… was something in the air or was it my students, or myself. We tackled agile and dig really deep. To experienced and guide it, made me very vulnerable.

To learn means to leave comfort zone and to realised that what we did so far was not OK. Learning can make you feel big discomfort. That feeling is not a good feeling, so sometimes to get it go, people turn the anger to the messenger. Trainers and coaches need to learn how to deal with it. Another thing next to anger is struggle. I see struggling people, who want to be really agile, not only on paper, but they have no idea how to do it in their environment. Sometimes I do not know which situations are harder – anger or struggle, but definitely since I attended Agile Couch Camp this summer it is easier to deal with situations like those.

Week before Christmas I had a group of people who had especially big emotional debt. No matter which topic we were discussing, it went back to the old stories about orders, ignorance (from managers) and silence (from employees because it does not matter if they say something). This group was special with another thing – there was one of managers sitting with them. She is one of the new managers, who joined the company not so long ago, but still – a manager. First day she was all about denial. Everything, what group said about bad practices, missing communication or management, was not true. On second day she started to listen and at the end of the day she said: “now I see that we have communication problem”. She realised that to talk or to share ideas is not enough with people, who were misused for a very long time. They do not believe you and they listen to something else. On third day the manager was missing for the first part of the day. I used the time and asked the group to reflect on training and how the manager reacted. It was interesting to observe that they collectively realised that maybe there is real change coming. The training they got, the manager, who listens when they complain and reacts when she realise something wrong. I felt very privileged to guide them through this moment. Felt like real transition to new level.

At the very end of the training group asked me for tips how to stick to ideas and how to keep agile spirit vivid. Maybe because of approaching Christmas or because of this something in the air, this time I chose to share story of my own vulnerability, my own struggle and my own insecurity and my tricks how I keep going and where they could look for tools what would help them to create a positive agile habit.

Sometimes giving a training can be exhaustive… but I still like it.

Katrina Clokie: 3 Blog Posts

Katrina Clokie

As a trainer every week I have another training, 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.

I start with Katrina, who is one of my role models. Her blog is a real treasure chest, but many post surfers may have a feeling that it is for advanced readers. Please do not get scared, here are 3 blog posts what everyone will find helpful:

  1. Use your stand up to make testing visible

  2. How do you decide what to automate?

  3. Can we remove a tester from our agile team?

Additionally I suggest you to explore her posts labeled with “Pathway“.

3 Ideas for Beginners in Public Speaking

We at SpeakEasy get tons of requests to mentor people who wants to start public speaking. Because we all are volunteers and matchmaking is very sensitive process, sometimes it takes time until mentee is matched with a mentor. To speed it up we are looking and experimenting with new ideas.

Other bottleneck is how long time it takes for mentee to get accepted for a talk. In many cases basic understanding about public speaking and/or personal goals are missing. To fix that here is my short list what I suggest all mentees to start with:

1. Blazingly Simple Guide

Rob Lambert, who is very entertaining speaker himself, put a list “how to Submit and Speak at a Conference” together with all kind of aspects new speakers should have a thought about.

2. Practical Slide Deck

I used it for my very first talk and I still like to use it as a frame for my talks. Keeps me focused on listeners. A 15 Minute Guide : How to Create a Conference Presentation.

3. A book

Scott Berkun “Confessions of a Public Speaker” It is not a lecture, but more like a collection of stories and tips. This book helped me to lose my fear and start to enjoy public speaking.

Important

No matter what is your topic – technical, soft skill, experience story – one thing is essential. You have to be emotionally connected to your message. Talk on topics you are really passionate about.

Communication Links

AgileCommunic

Few years ago Gojko Adzic tweeted following:

https://twitter.com/gojkoadzic/status/482506004102672384

 

Even today, several year after the tweet, people do not understand why agile team has to be small. The answer is communication links! Take a look on picture above. The dots are symbol of person in the team, and lines shows communication links in team. Example on the left is for team of five (10 communication links), example on the right for team of nine (36 links). Formula is very simple:

Connection Links=n (n-1) /2n , where n=Number of Team Members

In a team of 15 you will have 105 communication links(15*14/2=105).

Agile is about team, not about isolated knowledge of some individuals.

In trainings I still hear team members complaining about management, who placed timers on each desc, that people time their conversations and do not talk too much. But that is not about communication anymore. It is about company culture. There is a reason why they talk too much, find out what it is, instead of to forbid to talk.

Quality is the Responsibility of the Whole Team

Originally this article was posted on trendig.com English & Deutsch

Since 2001 we have the agile manifesto in place and since then the whole industry is learning to use agile principles and values in their daily work of software development.

 

agile manifesto

The Agile Manifesto guides teams through agile transition and in their daily work of software development.

One of the problems I see, is that many who claim to be working in an agile environment have never read or really understood the agile values. While consulting teams or giving trainings, I’ve heard countless times that the Agile Manifesto says everything that is on the right side is what we should not do, e.g. in agile we have no plans, no contracts, no documentation or processes. I got to know a team who lost their software architect in agile transition because architects are not mentioned in the Agile Manifesto. Now they struggle with huge technical issues and there is no one who can help them… But it is not meant to be like this! The Agile Manifesto states that value is in items on both sides, but if we have to choose, we are choosing items on the left over the ones on the right. Logic says we have to have all items of the Agile Manifesto if we want to deliver sustainable software and improve our delivery cycle. The aspect that agile methods wants to highlight is, that documentation, plans or contracts are not the aim of the project, but are supporting tools. The aim of agile projects is always to deliver working software, have valued team members, and promote collaboration with customers and value responding to change.

 

the whole team approach

The way in which we achieve the values and the principles described in the Agile Manifesto is using the whole team approach. Since it changes fundamentally how we work together in a project, you can say it is a new style of project management in which everyone on the team is held equally responsible for the quality and success of the product.

The Whole Team Approach supports the 5th principle behind the Agile Manifesto.

Professionals in software development know that each development decision is a quality decision as well. The Agile Manifesto sets it as a top priority. Software quality does not depend on the software development model that we use, but on the method how we all together as a team structure the whole software development process. Together, we use tools and activities which support the achievement of high software quality. One of these activities is testing.

 

what does testing mean?

Everyone around the world knows or can imagine what “software development” or “project management” are, but very few can say what software testing is, how do you do it and, most importantly, why?

10 years ago when I started my career in testing, there was the statement: “everybody can test” with the meaning that you do not need special skills to test. Today I often state myself: “everyone can test software”, – meaning everyone: developers, software architects, product owners, support people and operations – everyone, who can analyse information and build a mental model of it, to discover invisible strings and deviations between software and requirements, business regulations, standards, norms and legal regulations. Testing is an intellectual sport. But we are more used to say: Testing is the process of how we collect information about our product with the aim that, based on this information, the team is able to decide what to do next.

Two types of testing are very important in an agile context: automated regression and exploratory testing. With regression tests we collect information about software features which are already in use by users, and with exploratory tests we are learning about software features that we are currently developing.

If you run tests and your team cannot make decisions based on information your tests collected, your tests are not adding value. If you write weekly reports and nobody on your team reads those, your reports are not adding value. If there are 12,000 automated tests and no one can articulate what they cover, the automated tests are not adding value.

You may still have a tester on your agile team that acts as a coach for testing techniques and does some of the testing, but on an agile team, everyone should be able to collect information about the current state of the software. Remember: quality is the team’s responsibility.

the challenge of change

The essence of the whole team approach lies in the testers, developers, and the business representatives working closely together at every step of the development process. Because the whole team is responsible for success and quality, the whole team or at a minimum, representatives from each specialty – see three amigos  – is involved in every consultation or meeting in which product features are presented, analyzed, or estimated. For many organisations and individuals, it can be a struggle.

The first attempt to switch to an agile software development, in my experience, in 90% of cases looks like a 2-week-waterfall development. It is hard to change a person’s way of thinking or collaborating, a company culture or processes already in place. People and companies have to break deep-rooted processes, e.g. working in silos or not listening to junior members. Give it time and recognize people’s fears – it is scary to change! Some fears that people have expressed to me are:

  • “How exactly should I support my team members?”,
  • “If everyone should be able to test, what should I, the tester, do?”
  • “If the whole team decides on issues, what should I, the project manager, do? Is there still a job for me?”,
  • “According to our HR guidelines and my job title, I am a senior developer, but I never really understood testing. What will happen if others find out?”

All of those are valid questions and should be addressed.

Janet Gregory and Lisa Crispin were two of the pioneers in agile testing. Many agile testers call their book “Agile Testing” the Bible, because it was the first comprehensive book about testing in an agile context. Today they have the extension “More Agile Testing” and the 3-day hands-on training “The Whole Team Approach to Agile Testing and Quality”, for whole software development teams, with games and exercises on collaboration, planning and agile testing quadrants. I train this course myself because I am convinced that I can give many team members valuable knowledge for the implementation in their daily work. But whether it’s a book or training or reading blog posts or just trying things out for yourself: I encourage everyone to take a look at the whole team approach, because it is an important step forward when the entire team feels responsible for success and quality.

Story Behind My Logo

The logo for my website is not coincidence. It has a back story and deep meaning for me.

Story

Many of you associate me with Germany. Sometimes people speak broken German to me with aim to connect on personal level, but the thing is I live in Germany only because my husband is German. I am born, grew up, studied and worked in Latvia. Next week my small, but brave country will celebrate 100th anniversary. I am huge patriot of my country and in my local circles well known for distributing tourism information about this green and untroubled place on earth.

We Latvians are very proud of our culture – locally (dances, songs) and internationally (music, science, sports). Big part of our cultural heritage are signs, known and used since Middle Stone Age. My logo is one of those signs.

meaning

Sign of Laima (fortune) is proved to be one of the oldest known signs in Latvian (Baltic) culture. Laima is known as peoples life path giver, fortune. Displayed a fire needle – symbol of nature, evergreen as omen of not giving up. Another explanation is based of feathers of birds, which symbolises the soul.

Sing of Laima has a branching – Swab of Laima. Placed horizontally and extended.

Meaning: A soul keeper. Sweeps away the undesirable.

Why it is important to me

When I moved to Germany I faced many struggles: alone without family, friends and business contacts, I had to start all over again. Of course my husband was supporting me all the way, but he is from different domain and his friends and family are his, not mine. Especially hard it became when my mother got sick and died.  I felt like i was loosing my roots. I felt torn between two families, two countries, two cultures, two realities. I felt lost in translation. Belonging really nowhere, except my safe place – my little family around me.

What helped me, was reading Latvian literature, listening and singing Latvian songs. Reconnecting, rebuilding with my origin, but this time without my mother.

On the way I rediscovered Swab of Laima and gave another meaning to it:
>>>   all my stories in the past. everything what made me – me
<<<   everything, what expects me in the future. the person I will become
|||       living now and here. me as connection node for two stories, two countries, two cultures, two realities