How You Measure Success In Testing?

Very early in my testing career I understood that this will be tricky: it is hard to say when you are successful as a tester. Even worse,  it is hard to be proud of anything in testing.

There was time that it was cool to write many as possible test cases or to find many as possible bugs. That was success. But now those times are gone. Now testers question stuff and support teams.

I raised 10 questions yesterday, today I asked 12 – yeay, I am pretty good at this!

OK. Let’s assume for the moment this is how you measure quality of a tester. If asking more questions shows success, then we will want to ask more questions to be more successful. 15. 20! 35? And suddenly questions becomes a noise and distraction for a development team.

My current answer how to measure quality of a tester is following:

Testing is a service. If tester brings value to the development team with what s/he does than s/he is a good tester.

Food for thought – what kind of testing team would you call successful?

 

My personal success

I wanted to answer the question for myself – am I successful?

For a long time I thought I wasn’t. I am an autodidact in testing. I even cannot say that I learned on the job, all learning happened in my free time. There was no manager or senior colleague at any point of my testing career who would guide me through the subject. Google was my friend. Developers around me did not like testing, managers around me always wanted me to do manual checking. It took time and mental strength to understand that there is more. From that moment on I started to practice selling and explaining testing. I had very different results. I started to doubt myself. I looked up to big names in testing, compared myself to them and though I paled in comparison. I was sure that on my self-education way I missed the turn and miss some existential  information. I felt like a fraud…

But then something happened. I attended an open space, run a session and apparently my statements annoyed one of the biggest names in testing. He got angry, we started to argue and then he asked me whether I knew what a state chart was. I said no, causing him to raise his voice and to ask me in front of the group how I dare to call myself a tester. That was it! Somebody was calling me a fraud, but instead of being ashamed, running away and hiding, I answered him with confidence: Yes, I am a tester!

Suddenly I understood that I am very special kind of tester. There is only one of me. My experienced shapes how I test software and how I communicate with people. It will not work for every team or every manager and that is OK. There is no one universal answer to a question. BTW, I looked up immediately after our dialog what “state chart” is. I realised that I knew it, but only in Latvian.

If I do consulting and my client wants me to automate UI tests in two weeks and then leave, I could do a few things:

  1. I could start to explain what testing is, how it works and what you can do with testing. And I will crash and burn, because the client will be frustrated and overwhelmed with this information, which will turn around everything they know and how they work. How do I know it? I experienced it.
  2. Or I could “shut up and simply do the job” (greetings to Mark ;) ) that I was contracted to do.
  3. Lately I choose to combine both. I do the job, but I involve other people to whom I explain what I am doing and why, so that after I am gone they could carry it out by themselves.

Is this the only possible solution? No. It is my current one. Next year it will probably look completely different, because I am continuously learning and improving my methods.

Now, when I look back to when I thought I was a fraud, I can not understand why I felt that way. I always had a job offers and I got mostly good feedback from the teams I worked with. Why I did not recognise this as success? I have a page on this site for speaking engagements.  Average only two appointments per year. To some it could look very empty. But for me it is OK. I have a day job, I have a family, I have hobbies and I am member of several local groups. Two to three talks a year is what I am comfortable with.

As I get older, I find the strength not to compare myself to others. I compare me with me. If I read one of my old blog posts and feel ashamed – this is good thing, because it means I learned something in-between.  

 

 

Giveaway: #TestBash Germany

I have one giveaway ticket for Test Bash Germany – write me an email/ message (mailto:Kristine.Corbus at gmail.com)  , why you should get it and if you will convince me – ticket is yours!  #PayItForward #SimplyLikeThat 

Don’t Patronize Me

Some time ago I talked with a testing friend and he said: “I have never seen you test nor have we talked much about testing”. And suddenly it hit me, I am afraid to talk about testing. I am afraid to be patronised. There is always somebody who knows better. I remember the time 10 years ago – I wrote a question in some forum how to test something better. Very first response explained me that I asked the question wrong. Since that time unaware I have followed unwritten rule:

  • do not ask questions
  • do not give statements
  • never claim that I know something
  • answer the questions

Why? Because I was afraid to be judged.

First step was to realise – I can hide as hard as I want, I am judged anyway. Second step was to accept it, but without impact on my self-awareness. It took me some time and energy to change it. I have confidence now to deal with somebodies opinion about my abilities or knowledge.

 

 

Attracting Girls To Engineering

Statement “girls are not interested into engineering” is wrong.

Take me as an example. I had loving parents, but they had strong opinion what kind of toys are meant for girls. I beg them, but still never got a car or train to play with. Never understood why I cannot wear pretty dresses AND play with the trains?

Later at school we had craftsmanship lessons. Girls did cooking, knitting, crochet, weaving, boys could build something from wood and they took plumbing lessons. One thing I was interested in, but never were allowed to try. Because I was a girl.

At university one of my professors once told me: no way you wrote this code yourself!

It was so frustrating… I did not get chances to show what I am capable of OR every time I delivered something, my work got questioned just because I have no penis!

Based on my experience here are seven simple suggestions how you can attract girls to engineering:

  1. give chances to girls to try
  2. do not question results what they deliver. no comments that they could do better. they will do better after some time of practice
  3. invite not just one girl, but all her girlfriends. it is safer to fail, if your friends are around you
  4. find a role model. tell stories about women, who was the very first programmer, did very first debugging, wrote code to fly to the moon etc.
  5. listen when a girl talks
  6. make no suggestions if she does not ask for those. let her figure it out for herself
  7. if you see somebody doing opposite what I wrote in 1-6, call him/her out, tell that it is wrong. tell to the girl, that it is wrong

Gmail And Dots

This week I was on the phone with my insurer. It was Saturday and I had to say my name, my address, my birthday and my bank account to identify me as me. I asked insurer in future to contact me via e-mail because during workday I mostly cannot answer the phone, because I work as a trainer with full class of students.

  • she: please spell your email address
  • me: kristine dot <rest of my gmail address>
  • she: your phone number
  • me: we are on the phone right now, you know my phone number
  • she: sorry, I have to register this kind of information. this is for Saturday calls only.
  • me: ….. +49 <numbers>
  • she: do you have a dot in your email address? is there any capitals?
  • me: (i spelled it and you did not listen) it is gmail address, it does not matter. And email addresses are not case sensitive.
  • she: no, you are wrong, it matters!

I almost forgot about this conversation, but today got reminded by Netflix scam story. I wrote a year ago how handy it is that Gmail finally decided to ignore the dot and sell it as a feature. I was thinking as a tester, not as a user. But James is right, Google never informed me that I have infinite set of email addresses. If users does not know, and services, who collect my email address does not know it, then we are back to: it’s a bug not a feature! again.

As a tester I will keep using Gmail dot ignorance feature, but as a user I will pay more attention and write a mental note to myself about possible misuse.

 

 

Today I Learned

Last September I joined trending and became one of the ISTQB trainers. I have a whole story “why?” and I plan to share it one day, but today I want to talk a bit about learning.

How I see learning from the trainer side is pretty ugly – mostly students do not want to learn. It is trendy to talk about learning and training should be safe place where to learn, but in many cases ISTQB is something where they have been sent by a boss or something, what they think they have to do, to get a next shiny job title. I try hard to make trainings entertaining (I carry different testing games with me) and informative (learning materials, stories from the past), but sometimes it is simply not working. Sometimes I am happy that at the end of the day everyone simply memorised what negative test is and why we should do it. Most challenging are the ones who refuse to understand some definitions or concepts, for example, difference between validation and verification. Most frustrating if this is a person who has 20 years of experience in IT. In those moments I ask myself, is this really for me? But then I remember my “why?” and everything is OK again. Part of that “why?” are students, who are engaged and eager to learn everything I can share with them. They did some research upfront and have clear vision what they need. It is highly rewarding to work with that kind of students. Discendo discimus – while teaching we learn.

In trainings I invite people to embrace failures, to share experiences, to learn from each other, to use synergy. To help them to do that, I point to my own mistakes. Something like the picture on the top of this post. Few month ago I put whiteboard into our home kitchen. We use it as drawing board, as shopping list, as design board for next game we will program and sometimes I write citations. I guess, now till end of my days, I will spell “intelligence” correctly. Not always I was so cool about my mistakes. Few years ago I would feel ashamed and embarrassed, would try to hide it, put a lot of energy to deny it. Today I share it with the world. I know who I am and spelling mistake will not make me less me. I better put my energy to think why did I spell it wrong? Am I writing too less on an analog information carriers? Do I assume that software will catch all my spelling mistakes?

Since this month we have new colleague Dani. One thing what he did, he created channel in our company slack #todayilearned to share our learnings. It has became simple but effective training for me to identify what did I learn new today. Sometimes it is simple stuff, like, how to spell “intelligence” or that I am afraid to sit in the car which moves faster than 210kmh on busy autobahn, or that people who smell lavender fragrance make less typos and are more productive (I sent this fact immediately to my colleague with whom I used to share an office and passion to lavender). Or sometimes it is realisation that not everyone reads and spends on learning about a software as much as I do. I moved away from digital transition because I was sick of explaining software development basics again and again. Now I explain them on weekly bases :D . I like to think that I can assume correctly about previous software development experiences of my respondent and explain missing parts accordingly his/her level of understanding. And almost every second time I fail, because of aiming too high. People try to write an essay without knowing the alphabet! Yes, even in 2018 you have to explain, with patience and empathy, what is a smoke test, what is a negative test and regression test to a developer with 10 years of experience in software development. And this is OK. We all make mistakes, take wrong decisions and can use it as learning possibilities.

 

 

You Are Next

November 18 is the special day for all Latvians. It is our independence day. This year(2017) we celebrated 99th and Latvian community in Berlin organized a very nice party with a variety of musical performances. The club was quite small, there was almost no backstage, in-between performances singers were among listeners.  I was holding up my 4yo that she can see better the stage. At one moment she turned to me and said to me: “you are going up next, right?”

Amazing how simple is 4yo life… If you know what you do (I was singing along whole night) and like what you do, you go up on the stage and do it there.

Why am I tell you this story?

At conferences, I meet a lot of amazing people and we share a bunch of stories. Many people, who I met, shared their secret – they would like to share their stories from the stage, but think that no one will be interested. My answer to this is: “do not decide for me”.

If you need help to find your topic, prepare your abstract or presentation, then mentors and team behind SpeakEasy will help you. I know, because I was SpeakEasy mentee myself. Now I am helping to match mentees and mentors. Do not let your fear limit your potential.

You are next, right?

 

2017: That Was Awesome!

Everyone is already busy with a new year resolution, but I am finally having time to recap and say “Thank you!” to 2017 for being an awesome year!

Workshops

It all started in January – I gave my first self-created full day (8h) workshop about test automation for a customer – the team of five and half of them were new to testing. What a challenge! I was super nervous before the workshop and super tired afterwards. But the thing I took with me – I want to do it again and again and again!

And I did. Already in February, I gave the next workshop, this time about exploratory testing and it was not created by me. I adapted several ideas and methods, which I learned from Jean-Paul. It turned out very well and I keep using elements of that workshop in ISTQB trainings I give now.

TestBash Germany

Starting March most of my free time went for preparing TestBash Germany. In March I went to Munich to check location together with Patrick, we screened proposals, had some trouble with tax stuff, worked on strategies for sponsors and attendees and so on. I remember as we worked on shortlist for speakers, I asked Rosie how many we should keep back up. She said: none. In all those years never ever they missed the speaker. Well… we broke that and lost one speaker two weeks, second – three days before the conference. Things happen, that’s life, but we as a team, we did the best we could do – we asked some very special attendee to jump in and they said yes!

  

Before the conference, I offered a free ticket, paid from my own pocket, to anyone who could write me few sentences why she or he should get the ticket. No strings attached. I wrote the offer in German, because I wanted to support testers in Germany and to show what words “testing community” really means. This is Carolina, the lucky winner, but just like me she is not a German :)

TestBash Germany was a huge success, but few episodes of the conference I do not remember. My nerves were trembling, the pressure to make first TBG perfect (whatever it means) was high and at the same time, it was my good-bye. After years of dreaming, doubting, daring and convincing, I made my dream come true, I brought TestBash and MinistryOfTesting to Germany. Thank you to everyone who supported me in this time. During the conference, we asked to raise a hand, to whom this is the first testing conference. To our surprise circa 50% attendees raised it!!! Amazing! I could not wish more… I leave satisfied. Since I work for trendig, which is the organiser for ATD, even if I am not part of event team, sooner or later there would be a conflict of interest. But do not worry – the world keeps spinning and TestBash Germany 2018 is happening – our helpers Vera and Marcel are taking over.

My two pieces of wisdom to anyone who thinks about organising a conference:

  1. be sure there will be more work than you think,
  2. get a support of your employer.

I was not so lucky as Patrick and now I can share that sometimes it was very hard to balance. I had to cut my working hours and huge thanks goes to my husband. Without his full support, I would not make it.

Meet-ups

TestParadies is a meet-up I founded and solo organize since 2015. The local community is still inert and I still need to put a lot of effort to convince people to give a short talk, but so slowly progress is visible. In 2017 I organised nine (9!) meet-ups and covered pretty good topics:

  • Acceptance testing
  • UI Automation with Ranorex
  • Testing with agile teams
  • Many shapes of Testing vol.2 – Test pyramid, XLT Testsuite & JUnit5
  • TestOps Toolchain – Docker Workshop
  • Testing infrastructure for micro services
  • MOB Testing
  • Game night
  • Code Patterns for testers (thank you, Llewellyn, for letting me to adapt your talk and to use your materials)

Employer

As mentioned earlier in May I left the company, where I was working for two years. My current employer is trendig and I am happy to work with mind-opened people and evolute my skills. In second part of the year I wrote less blog posts, but spent more time with reading, taking care of my health and my family. We also moved in new home and the day when I will empty the last box will be my lucky day!

People

Besides workshops, meet-ups and TestBash Germany, I attended four other testing events – two local, where I gave a talks, and two conferences. First one was TestBash in The Netherlands. Went down there to help Huib and Rosie, met a lot of new testers and put faces and voices to several digital friends and role models.

     

In November it was Agile Testing Days. This time I was not giving a talk and could enjoy it fully. Had a lot of time for long discussions with like-minded people. To every picture I could tell you a story, but to keep it short, will stick to one. I come from a small country and many even does not know that it is one of EU countries, so small it is. So it was special highlight to meet four other testing Latvians at the conference!

 

Summary

2017 was really an amazing year for me. Beside topics above I also participated in  #30DaysOfSecurityTesting and started to reorganise my (testing) knowledge. I still cannot say I could do security testing, but I definitely learned a lot. I spent some time to investigate how to work better, how to motivate a team better, how to see, what I do not want to see and what makes a good leader. Those are topics I am very passionate about, will write and talk about them in the future.

Year ago I changed the name of my blog to TestRetreat. Now I can say it was right thing to do. I wanted to reduce the tense I had around the testing and it worked! The positive atmosphere and the right tune is very important. But it is also very important to take time off, not just from the work, but from all job-related free time activities :)

 

I wish you an amazing 2018!

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?