Willful Blindness

I watched very interesting talk about willful blindness by Margaret Heffernan and it made me think about software development. Are we – testers – IT whistleblowers?

 

1981: How Computers Will Affect Our Future

TV story from 1981 about computers influence on daily life. Please ignore Steve Jobs name in YouTube title. Yes, he gives an interview, but he is not the only one.

In 2017 we can say that this is the future they were talking about. Interesting that in 1981 they stated: as the society, we are used to computer problems. In 2017 computers and software is really everywhere and each company is a software company today. Even schools depend on software. The high school, where my son goes, was hacked and suddenly everyone realised that for some of the actions there are no offline alternatives anymore.

I listened to the next Quality Remarks podcast with Mark Tomlinson and there are many things what resonates with me. Will highlight just one: “if students of software development do not learn about testing and students of management do not learn about quality, then we are in big trouble“.

Dictum – Factum

I am the doer. I see a problem/aim/thing I want and I go for it. If I have obstacles, I will put my mind around it, I will make compromise, but I will get a results.

I have put my finger on several key processes along my employee career and for a looong time I thought that I do not need to label my ideas and/or results as mine. Mainly because I believe in following two things:

  • an idea is more important as human, who brought it to the life. If my idea/work lives and developes without me, than that was really necessary for the world and not just for my ego.
  • everyone, who works together with me, knows what I am capable of and which parts of work was delivered by me.

Mostly it worked well. Everyone in the company knew QA=Kristine, even if I was not part of the project. If people needed help with testing or quality related issue, they were looking for me and I helpe as best as I could. I am also very good in puzzles – from small information bits I like to create big picture – that comes handy if you work on big projects or big companies where people do not know each other. Than one day I organised feedback workshop with my old team. We had small, but cool team and I thought it could be perfect to exercise on self-introduction and feedback giving the same time.

Nice and easy, right? To my surprise I got one negative (and 4 positive) feedback about my introduction! I was so surprised. I shaped my introduction to people with whom I work together, I was assuming that they all know who I am, what are my topics and how I am working. In this case I could excuse myself with the fact that the person, who gave that negative feedback, was working remotely. But frankly it shocked me that even people on my team can misunderstand me so greatly.

I started to rethink it all and to pay attention what is my message, what do I say. Besides other things, I noticed that in most of the cases I use “we”. One example – since almost two years I organise TestParadies – a meet-up for testers and QAs. Alone. I have no team, no sponsors, all the fees I am paying from my own pocket. Year ago I was lucky to get Petra on team to write retrospective blog posts about the meet-ups, but generally I do the whole thing alone – looking for speakers, looking for locations, maintaining platforms, writing emails, moderate discussions, deciding on topics. And still when I talk about TestParadies I say “we did…”, ” we plan…” no matter that there is no “we”! An outsider could think that I am ashamed of running a meet-up! Why I do not take the credit for my work?

Why and How Testers Should Act Like Marketeers” was talk by Rosie Sherry on European Testing Conference 2017. I was not lucky to attend it, but found her slides on slideshare. Many good ideas there! Marketing and selling testing seems not to be those things testers are familiar with. Currently I am trying to shape my blog as my portfolio and I struggle on first page – how to design it that the message is clear? I decided to visit blogs/websites of test people who do consulting to collect some of ideas. Almost everyone I checked had a personal bio, but I was very surprised to found just a few business oriented introductions. 

Some time ago I was working together with a developer on contract. He was working 3 days/week on the project and 2 days/week managing his company. At the beginning I thought that it is only an excuse, he is working on some other project and does not want to admit it. Now I see it from different angle and believe that being great developer or tester is not enough. I expand that old Latin saying to:

Dictum – Factum – Signum – Explicatum

Independence Day

This day – 4.May – is very special day for all Latvians. The Declaration “On the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia”[1] (Latvian: Deklarācija Par Latvijas Republikas neatkarības atjaunošanu) was adopted on 4 May 1990. The Declaration stated that, although Latvia had de facto lost its independence in 1940, when it was annexed by the Soviet Union, the country had de jure remained a sovereign country as the annexation had been unconstitutional and against the will of the people of Latvia.

This year I really cannot celebrate this important event with my people, because my mind is occupied by something else. Today is also kind of my own independence day. After a long process of consideration, I finally dear to quit comfort of employee and start my way as entrepreneur. After full two years, I leave diva-e. Thank you all for time you shared with me! It was my pleasure to get to know you and your stories. Some of you I will keep seeing in software related MeetUps, dragon boat trainings or on a bike path. Especially hard was to say goodbye to my team, I will miss them a lot! But my way takes turn now. I am over excited and anxious the same time, but one thing I know for sure – in following few years I will learn a LOT!

Becoming Mentally Strong

Last week was emotionally hard for me. I had a strong disagreement with a person, who’s opinion means a lot to me. It seemed that there is no way out and it made me ill. I hade a feeling I am losing a very dear friend over stupidity. Except that it was not stupidity, but very important part of my believe.

What to do?

As always I asked the question: why? Why it is so important to me and why am I feeling sick? And as always those questions lead to the past. I remembered my personal struggle many years ago, several very unpleasant situations and my actions, who lead me to be a person, who I am today. It was very hard decision, because I never shared those experiences with somebody (except my husband), but I decided to open up to my friend – introduce the elephant in the room and explain myself.

Magic happened – my friend understood my motives and message, we stopped arguing. When relief and joy came down, I realised what happened. Some kind of summary line between then and now, things I have learned and the self-building journey I have made. I learned a lesson, paid the price and moved on. OK, it was a little bit different: stopped to blame circumstances (because it did not help), understood which exactly lesson I had to learn to be able to move on, learned it, stopped paying the price, which I paid during avoiding to understand the lesson and moved on.

It is good, time to time open up, show the scars and person behind them.

 

Mental Strength

 I come from Latvia and our nation is quite small. It depends how you count, but there are only around 2 million Latvians in the world. Good thing about it – that there is space for everyone and if one of us gets successful – everybody feels proud and celebrates it. Since two years there is this guy, from the town next to the sea, who managed to work his way till New York. His name is Kristaps Porziņģis.

His start in NY Knicks was not easy. People did not know him and were very disappointed when he was drafted as #4 in 2015. “They booed him. They said he wasn’t good enough. They didn’t know who he was. He used their criticism as motivation. He proved them wrong. #KP6

I never was in any sports team, so I do not know how it is from the inside. But that was time when I started to think: how it is to perform every second day in front of hundreds of people, who show their dislike and disbelieve in you in very direct way. What kind of motivation, focus and believe in yourself is necessary to prove them wrong?

Later, on my birthday, I got a present sent by post from my father. A book written by Kristaps brother Jānis about their way to New York. At the beginning, I was surprised about the language – locker room talk – simple and direct. As I got to use to it, was blown away by the story, the obstacles and the person, who in such young age made life changing decisions.  Kristaps woke my curiosity about the sports psychology. Some of its elements could be smart to use in software testing.

I can not give you link of the book because it is in Latvian only, but here is video compilation, where best athletes share their formula of achievements.

Back to testing and testers. Many professionals in testing are afraid of public speaking. But hey!, in software conferences most of the auditorium are quietly listening to the speaker. Or tweeting. But definitely no one is booing. So what you are afraid of to step on the stage and tell your story?

 

My First Exploratory Testing Workshop

screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-22-59-08

Today I did something fun!

Already some time my colleagues &co were asking about an exploratory testing workshop. I did not say yes or no. I wanted to do it, but did not have clear idea how?

Then I went to TestBash Utrecht and had a chance to take a part in Jean-Paul Varwijk‘s exploratory workshop. That was mind blowing!!! There is generally this thing about TestBash workshops – they accelerate my skills and boom my motivation. In this one Jean-Paul literally several times said that I have no idea how to explore. Important was that when he said it, it was not like shaming but like exposing one of my unknown unknowns and that’s up to me what I will do with it. Plus, in case I wanted to do something about it, he gave practical tools for it. LOVE IT!

So today, thanks to Jean-Paul, I gave my very first mini exploratory testing workshop. My task was easier, because I work together with my workshop team, and harder, because I realised, it is part of the workshop to expose unknown unknowns.

It turned out to work out very well. We had AHA moments, fun and bonding.

Outline for 45m exploratory workshop:

  • exploring surrounding
  • exploring software with 7 Questions by Jean-Paul at EuroSTAR Conference. Those slides were not a part of workshop in TB NL, but because of limited time and to support the idea I wanted to transfer in my workshop, found them very fitting.
  • re-exploring software with SFDPO

And we ended with de-briefing strategy: PROOF (stands for Past, Results, Obstacles, Outlook, Feelings)

P.S. if you can, go and take a workshop by Jean-Paul. I recommend it. And do not forget to tell me afterwards how did you liked it.

Summing Up 2016

2016 was incredibly good year for me. I aimed a lot and achieved a lot. Here are some of the highlights:

  • understanding and knowing myself better
  • learned how to ask for a help and feel not ashamed
  • discovered a deep trauma, located impact of it in my life and let it go
  • clarity in what I want to do moving forwards, and taking steps to do that
  • attended testing conference for the first time
  • … and then another three
  • spoke in two conferences: BTD & ATD
  • learned and connected with test and tech professionals all over the world
  • work on bringing TestBash to Germany
  • organise local meet-up and rise awareness about software quality
  • ignited to set test automation as default requirement 
  • preparing one day workshop about test automation for beginners
  • mentoring students and other women
  • published 20+ blog posts
  • started to use twitter and learned a way how it can support my learning

I have huge plans for 2017. It starts with making TestBash Germany a big success as the place where speakers and attendies will feel safe to share and to learn. And many other expectations, some of which are currently still unknown to myself, but I am eager to take what comes and make the best out of it.

 

How To Create A Workshop

created by Ash Winter

created by Ash Winter

After a successful year of learning how to give a conference talk, I start a new chapter in my testing life and start to learn how to give a workshop. This is a bit trickier as with a talks, because of limited information about the topic.

As I asked the question in MOT Slack channel, I got respond from Ash Winter with the link to a mindmap he created for giving workshops. Take a look to it and spread the world. I think it is the awesome tool!  I am especially excited about it, because I took a workshop earlier this year, given by Ash, and I still use the skills I learned. So, I can say that I already tested Ash’s workshop creator skills.

A long time ago I worked as substituted teacher and had great fun with my students. Let’s see how I will do with a workshops. Will keep you posted.

Preparation For My First Conference Talk

http://www.tropicalmba.com/presentation/

My personal professional aim for 2016 was to perform as testing conference speaker. I did some presentations in my 20s as I worked in life-long education and co-run courses for adults, but in testing I fellt the best in the background: planing, improving, building teams and motivating others. I decided to leave my comfort zone!

My first steps to achieve my aim was to apply for SpeakEasy mentorship and to join English class. I got great mentor and she helped me to find my subject, to polish it and to submit my very first conference abstract(have you seen those submission forms? HUGE!). Following with second right after it. One of those got accepted and currently I work on my first conference presentation.

No matter that internet is full of information how to be a speaker and to make a presentation, I did not know where to start. I tried few things, but my thoughts did not want to stick to the paper. I put my first slides together but I was ashamed to share it even to my mentor. It did not look even close to presentations what I saw and liked.

Than I found a 15 minute guide: how to create a conference presentation and thought – this is doable! Very practical and easy to follow suggestions. It even cover topic how to glue it together. From that point I was on the horse again.

There was two another things which I did. I ask for advice on Twitter:

and got amazing feedback with many useful tips. Thank you everyone!

I also shared my slides with other testers in order to test – is my message clear enough? I learned it as I wrote my third conference abstract and my mentor was shortly not available. I had this new idea and wanted to have a feedback, to know should I continue or not, is this something for conference or better for local meet-up. I asked several testers if they would like to review my draft. Believe me or not – no one said “no”. People are nice and like to help. Only thing – you should ask!

Talking about feedback – may be it is only coincidence but my observation is that ladies are more supportive and less specific and critical. My suggestion would be, if you want to test your message, send it to ladies and gentlemen and to testers with different background and knowledge level.

After collecting feedback and putting that into my presentation, the next step will be to practise presentation itself. My current plan includes recording and watching it and presenting for small groups.

Release date is in exactly one month!