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 https://exploratorytesting.org 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 .

Highlights

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!

AfterPiece

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!

ETC Serendipity

València Vacation
First things first – I am still little bit high. Just came back from amazing week in Valencia and want to tell you everything about it.

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It started with two days of vacation. First real vacation alone since I have family (14 years). The first day I spent on my own, I wanted to dive into the atmosphere. Spain was my dream land as I was teenager, but this was my first time visiting the country.

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On my second vacation day I did sightseeing, but I was not alone anymore. I felt very alive and free. I welcomed serendipity and it answered my invitation.

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After such start of the week whole conference was like a birthday party with closest 200 friends. Three of four keynotes were very personal, honest and empowering. I have a feeling that I can move a mountain! Workshop on branding transformation hold by Martin Hynie gave me confidence that my research on this topic is on the right track. Soon I will start to write about it.

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You cannot say ETC is a new conference. This was already the fourth release! The beauty of conference is that each year it is held in another country and in first quartal of a year (no clash with family or work calendar). I guess around 50% attendees were technical people and it shaped a lot the sessions and talks during the breaks. Little bit unlucky that conference was divided into two parts – auditorium & eating area on one side and workshops and track sessions on the other side of the building. I thought it will be chaos pure and complaining people (including me), but it turned out very positive. Nobody complained (I did not hear) and I was glad to be forced to go outside of the venue and to feel February sun on my skin. I found it amusing to see how many took the stairs (4 flours) instead of elevator. This is how stereotypes about none active IT people die.

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Networking and socializing part. I do not know to be angry or proud about myself in this category. I wrote about this before – I want to take better care of myself. To have vacation on my own is one thing, but another thing is to act reasonable, to stand up, to leave group of friends and go to sleep. Because “better care” is so vague, I set Cinderella as my role model: at the latest at midnight I have to leave, no matter how good is a party. Unfortunately, not every night I followed this rule. The proud part about my socializing is that I decided to leave my bad experience in the past, be vulnerable and open up to people. I am still amazed how this decision turned out for me. I let people under my skin, they appreciated that and we connected on very personal level. In result I feel even more alive and free.  Thank you for your time and stories (chronological appearance): @melthetester @always_fearful @jrosaproenca @SalFreudenberg@_queen , Alex (sorry, I cannot find you on Twitter!), @lucianadrian@coderbyheart and @jess_ingrass . I also had good conversations with “older” friends, especially Lisi and James.

 

On Saturday I planned to have my third vacation day, but I changed my mind and first time in my life I attended a peer conference. That was amazing! But you need to wait till next week to read the story.

 

 

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!

#TestBash Germany – #PayItForward

Ich bin sehr stolz darauf zu sehen, wie meine Idee “Lass uns die Testbash nach Deutschland bringen” Wirklichkeit geworden ist. Diese Idee hätte ich niemals alleine umsetzen können. Erstmal Rosie hat mir ihr Vertrauen geschenkt, dann Patrick. Vielmehr haben Patrick und ich ein super Team bestehend aus Marcel, Vera und Daniel, die wie ein eingetaktetes Uhrwerk funktionieren. Das Gefühl mit dem Team zusammenzuarbeiten ist wunderschön!

Ministry Of Testing und TestBash haben einen besonderen Platz in meinem Herzen. Ich habe besondere Leute kennen gelernt und mich als Tester weiterentwickelt. Eine Lernkurve ist abgeschlossen. Aus diesem Grund habe ich ein TestBash München Ticket gekauft und suche nun jemanden der das Ticket geschenkt haben möchte. Es ist mein Weg von PayItForward und jeder ist eingeladen das zu nutzen.
Ich möchte jemandem die Möglichkeit geben in einem Raum voll mit lernhungrigen Testern zu stehen und das Beste für sich mitzunehmen. Sich über Testing Themen auszutauschen und ein Gefühl für die tolle Testing Community zu bekommen.
Wie kommst du an das Ticket?
Hier sind die Regeln:

Schreib mir einfach bis 24.9.2017 auf testretreat@gmail.com warum gerade Du das Ticket haben sollst.
Das ist die einzige Regel, es spielt dabei keine Rolle ob du Erfahrung im Testing, Support, Entwicklung oder Hauskeeping hast oder wie dein Jobtitel ist. Ich möchte nur sicherstellen, dass auch der oder die Richtige das Ticket bekommt und es auch einen Nutzen hat.

Find Courage – A #TestBash Story

tb_utrecht

On January I was on a trip to the Netherlands. I had an honour to support Rosie and Huib – people, who made another incredible Test Bash event.

I had much, much fun to run registration both days. I love to see new faces, to see the expectations in their eyes, I love to be the first one who meets, greets and guides them into TestBash world. I am kind of staying in the gates to the new knowledge and encouraging people to come forward. I met a lot of new people, had very interesting discussions and good laugh. But let’s start from the beginning.

Meet-Ups

In good old TestBash tradition there were a pre-TB event and pre-pre-TB event, a game night!

If you do not know what is TestBash meetup, then imagine crazy loud tester gatherings in some local bar, where over a drink you have a chance to have a word with a speaker or another cool testing personality. Sooner or later you will realise that all TestBash talks are keynotes and all testers who attend TestBashes are really cool testing personalities. Even yourself! Another very cool thing about TestBash meet-up is, that if you are in the area and can not make to attend the conference, you still have a chance to meet the test people.

Workshop day

Huib picked some very good workshops for the first TestBash Utrecht conference. I heard only good or excellent references.

After registration was done (and it took some time…) I participate in the afternoon workshop about exploratory testing by Jean-Paul. As a person, I am quite impulsive, but since I live in Germany and work as a tester, I work really hard to make me more organised to not to fall out too much. That is why I was expecting to get some practical tools how to do my exploratory testing. And I got them. Thank you, Jean-Paul!

Besides that, Jean-Paul gave me permission to think. This was so unusual, I am too much used to deliver, that I forget how it is to take a time and think. Explore slowly, for example, the room where you are sitting. In fact, everything in the workshop was a little bit like Zen. We tested applications, wrote test cases, documented our findings and let them go. No one wanted to know what exactly we found, what we thought. Very confusing and in the same time healing, because the process was the thing, not the result. Inspired by all that, in February I run my very first exploratory testing mini workshop.

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The day ended up with setting registration area and desks with swag. We learned from mistakes and rearranged place that people move faster to the rooms and do not stay in cold. It worked out good and in the next day there was no jam.

The conference day

My day started after 5 am. Very first thing was to move the car. Then I headed to the old church – TestBash Utrecht location. Punctuality is not my thing, that is why for important stuff I work hard to break my habits. As the result I was the very first one, the church was locked, no lights to see, freezing cold. Ha ha, next time I will take it easier on myself.

The conference started with Alans talk about misuse and fun, which unfortunately I did not hear it in Utrecht because people were coming in late for registration. Luckily my boss got for us Dojo access, talks are now uploaded and available for watching. Jipī!

The second highlight of the conference for me was Gitte talk about courage to be yourself. I met Gitte shortly during ATD and she heard pieces of my trust talk, we share similar values and some of experiences as well. I was thrilled to hear her talk. I can imagine that some felt uncomfortable and some could think that it is not a proper talk in tech conference. But it is proper and it is important! It is the blessing that we have people among us, who dare to remind us – we are humans, we are different and it is OK.

All other speakers were amazing too, but I will highlight only one more – Mary. Her talk about “Just enough security” had huge amount of information and I will rewatch it on Dojo to make some notes. Mary, you gave me the push to participate in #30daysofsecuritytesting. Thank you!

I like to talk to speakers after their presentations and take photos of them. The atmosphere of sharing is amazing!

I also like to take group photo of all lady speakers to show role models and inspire more women submit their stories, but in Utrecht they were too many to organise in one photo. Good job, Huib!

99 sec talks

Another tradition of TestBash is 99sec talks. Never participate? You should! That was first stage experience for several presenters, me including. The idea is to give a 99 seconds long (short) talk about testing related subject. As I first stand on the TestBash Brighton stage, I was surprised that the lights are not so bright as they seem to be and I could see all attendees. Before that, in my imagination, I thought it will be like a crowd of wolfs starring on me from the darkness. But instead of that I saw bunch of friendly faces, some carefully listening, other checking or typing something in their digital devices.

Utrecht

Usually, I do not have a lot of time to see a place where a conference is happening. This time I came by car and had no time pressure for leaving.

At the end…

In few days TestBash Brighton will start. If you are going – I wish you joyful learning journey! If you just got to know about TestBashes – I guess there are still some tickets left – invest in your future, you can afford it yourself, if your boss does not see value in sending you to the conference. I fund most of my activities myself and look where it brought me!

Women In Agile

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Agile testing days organized this year something new: “Women in Agile Summit”. Great idea, difficult subject, wrong conference day – night after the conference has been closed. Not enough public information that without men, discussions are meaningless. And in fact, the person, who closed the conference, forgot to mention the upcoming event!

I arrived late but brought seven men with me. They had a hard time between choosing to drink a beer and guiding me to something-with-women-thingy. All of them chose to be brave and face the difficult topic. Bravo! But it is getting better – as we started our lean coffee session we got another member. We collected our topics, voted and as we just started our discussions, time was suddenly up and all teams were asked to present their results. So we did not really have a chance to discuss our topics as a team, but to our surprise, we got unexpected feedback to our presentation:

  • first of all because of men: women ratio in the team
  • gender of the person, who presented the team results
  • discussion topic “beer bet”
  • usage of the word “female”

No matter that the conference was extremely friendly and Maaret as Women-In-Agile facilitator was very inviting, the atmosphere was intense and spiky. Yes, we were late and yes, we did not have a lot of time, but as I talked to Garreth afterwards, we both had a feeling that no matter what would our team present, we would do it “wrong”. Even during open discussion about women role in tech, we still try to mould participants in old stereotypes.

Before I continue to share my personal views about this difficult topic, I need to share some background facts:

  • I am a woman
  • companies where I worked and work, male are a majority. In two companies I was the only woman with ratio 1:15 and 1:50.
  • the most terrible thing what can happen to a woman in tech, that she is invited/promoted because of her gender, not because of ideas she present

For example, my personal aim for this year was to become a testing conference speaker. I accomplished it with the talks at Belgium Testing days and Agile testing days – both are women friendly conferences. I am very proud of myself, but in the same time, because I know about women-in-tech-promotions I cannot be sure that I got my chances because of my stories or because of my gender. My hope is that time will show what is what. But for now, for 2017 I set another aim – to talk in non-testing conferences. Till now – only rejections.

The thing about diversity is the same with excess weight, you close the eyes and hope that one day it will disappear just like that, without any effort. But deep inside you know that if you want a real change, you will have to work hard and disciplined. And it will take some time until first results become visible.

Conferences are mostly organized by men and mostly men are invited to present. They speak in one language and have a similar set of values. But men are not only one to blame. Women need to lean in more and not get scared by the first decline. I know what I am talking, I heard a lot of NO’s. But the only way how to keep going is to keep going.

This is my pattern how I do it:

  1. do not wait for permission
  2. do not think what others will think of you/your work
  3. do not give up

Some of the companies, where I worked, had no-feedback-is-good-feedback policy, in other rules of procedures. In both of the cases you can get old while waiting for permission to work on something. So I started the following pattern: inform the manager about solutions or ideas and if there is no immediate feedback, like “NO, DO NOT DO IT!”, then I proceed with implementation. With a time I learned that that was exactly what was expected from me after informal part. No feedback is approval!

Other two things mostly are supporting the first one. To imagine what others will think about my actions takes too much time and energy. Time and energy which I need to proceed with my aims. Reduce the waste, get rid of everything what is holding you back. And just keep doing what you love to do.

At the end, dear men, do some fact checking from your past and present and recall when did you last time thank or praise your women colleagues for a good job?

Special Announcement

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My dear friends,

Today I’m announcing something I’ve worked on for almost a year – we are bringing TestBash to Germany!

I hope you share my excitement and will consider participating in the event as either an attendee or as a speaker. If you have any questions or suggestions for myself or Patrick we would love to hear it!

 ~~~

Meine Kollegen und Freunde,

Heute ich habe eine ganz besondere Nachricht für euch: Patrick und ich – wir haben fleißig gearbeitet mit dem Ziel die einzigartige TestBash Konferenz nach Deutschland zu bringen.

Jetzt ist es so weit – am 6. Oktober 2017 in München werden wir die allererste TestBash Germany feiern! Bitte nehmt das in euren Kalender und Jahresplanung auf und ich hoffe euch persönlich begrüßen zu dürfen als Besucher oder vielleicht auch Redner.

Für Fragen stehen Patrick und ich sehr gern zur Verfügung.

Link to official MOT announcement

Pay It Forward

I am currently working on my Agile Testing Days talk, organizing MeetUp event to celebrate one year of Test Paradise and another bigger testing event which we will announce very, very soon. In the same time, my little daughter and myself got cold and had to stay in beds. We were watching a lot of Frozen.

Elsa in Let it go sings following lyrics:

“And the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do,
to test the limits and break through.”

Is she singing about boundary testing?!

Albert Einstein Elsa of Arendelle

 

Why am I writing about children’s cartoon? Because I like the idea about gaining confidence and it makes sense together with one of my current read – Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun. To acknowledge consequences and be yourself. It is scary to stand in front of people and be some kind of an expert, even if only in your story, in one particular situation. Much safer it is to stay quiet in the crowd, that no one gets an idea to question your expertise. 

I know that because I was quiet myself for a long time. I felt very inexperienced, no matter what I learned or delivered. So why I finally left my fears behind and dare to step up? Did I suddenly become an expert? No. Really no. I know there is too much out there what I still do not know. I am on my way and now I know that my stories can help those who are just starting. Or as Albert Einstein put it together:

“Every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.”

Belgium Testing Days 2016

Kristine at BTDconf
I am back in paradise from Belgium Testing days 2016, time to write down my impressions.

I was for a first time in Brussels, so I was very happy that part of speaker dinner event was guided tour in the city. We had the very best guide and I learned a lot of interesting facts about Belgium, Brussels and people who live there. Big surprise was people – young couples, mother with children, tourists – everywhere in the old town sitting on the ground and having their desserts. Other thing – police – it is everywhere and guns are very present. I witnessed arrest of two guys. It is very stupid to make jokes with police these days. If at the beginning it was alarming to see so many armed people in the streets, than afterwards I felt guarded.

If I would need to express my impressions about BTD2016 in one word it would be DIVERSITY. And by that I do not mean only gender diversity, but age as well. During open sessions and lean coffees at the conference we talked a lot about testers career – patterns and anti-patterns. Many of us have noticed that oft promising testers leave the field. One thing that testing as profession is not an easy one and in the same time testing is missing challenging path. At the conference was several “seniors” with 5 and “lead” with 3 years of experience. To take myself as an example – since 8 years I work as software tester and last few month I keep asking myself – what’s next? I have at least 30 working years waiting for me to fulfil, the question is – with what? So for me Isabel Evans lightning talk “I was so much older then…” was like a balsam and wake up call in the same time.

My talk “quality mini sessions for stakeholders” went well. I got valuable feedback from attendees and have several ideas how to improve my talk. I got a lot of questions to answer and inspired Debbie to make her lightning talk. To those who currently work on their first presentations – I was prepared to many things, but not for broken air conditioning… but we all survived :) and I will buy my own clicker! Thanks Mark for suggestions.

It was real pleasure to meet known faces and learn new ones. Thank you for sharing and till next time!

Imagine A Conference

Imagine a conference. What do you see? Expensive hotel… companies with big names… people, who all pretend to be extremely successfully… small talks about titles and budgets? Yes, there are many conferences of this kind. Test Bash is different. Test Bash is all about people, about testers, gate keepers, working in pairs or solo, trying to understand customer needs and to build the right thing. Being human and accepting ignorance. Working with smart algorithms, web applications, or taking care of security tests. Manual or automation. Everyone is welcomed!

This is a place where you can stand on the stage and share your story how you failed… and audience will understand you and support. Because we all failed once. No need to pretend. Together we are stronger!

You don’t believe me that such conference is possible? Only chance to verify it – buy a ticket to the next Test Bash conference and see it yourself!

Note 1: Wanz is a software tester. Cool, right?!

Note 2: I cried in the conference. I heard stories similar mine. I was not alone any more.