Test Retreat

Welcome to the homepage of Kris Corbus

Archive for the tag “communication”

Meaningful Agile Metrics

People like to set deadlines and to measure things, this is how we roll. In my classes, I hear many questions about how to measure software quality in an agile context. Many teams who switched to agile continue to measure quality like they used to do it before: number of found bugs, number of closed bugs, number of automated tests, stories rejected by PO etc. But after some time they found it was not helpful.

I am very cautious with metrics. First of all, because out of context they are misleading. Secondly, people tend to focus on what they are measuring, because they want to improve that thing. If we focus only on the numbers, it can be very dangerous. 

If you measure “stories rejected by PO” you will work with those numbers, but not address the real reason behind the problem, so in the majority of cases, it will not change. Just like in Dilbert comics or more current issue with Trump who did not want to test people for Corona, because then the numbers will sky rocket. He “likes the numbers where they are”.

OK, let’s assume I convinced you – metrics are tricky. But what can we do? My first suggestion is to evaluate if we really need a metric. If yes – for what and why? Sometimes the answer to those questions can give the solution. “Because we’ve always measured something!”, “Our management / stakeholders want to know it!”, “Our boss wants to know to whom he should pay a bonus”. Some of those are indicators of bad management, others of bad agile approach and I hope you understand that no metric will solve those problems.

If your challenge is nothing like this, then for the second round, I have a story to tell. Two years ago I took an Agile Testing Fellowship TrainTheTrainer course. I had two major highlights in the training, two things that changed my agile approach. I remember so vividly the moment when Janet Gregory announced: “forget about traceability in agile! We don’t need it”!

It came as a shock. How?! Why?? No traceability??? But, but, but… how will I work without traceability? Traceability always was a part of software development – starting from requirement elicitation until support and maintenance. I needed some time to process it. In the end I had to agree with Janet. If everything from beginning to end works, if testing is a part of development, if the team is the one who leads, if stakeholders support the team and give freedom of a decision then of course we don’t need a traceability. It becomes one and the same as the process.After reevaluation of traceability, I started to revise other old “religions”. As you can guess, one of them was metrics. My idea was – if I would remove everything I used to know about measuring quality and assume that it is baked in, what would I like to measure then? I will save you the whole rethinking process. At the end, I decided to focus on the whole team. For that I use 5 values of eXtreme Programming: Simplicity, Communication, Feedback, Respect, Courage. There are several ways to measure each of them. I will give you few examples that you know what I mean: simplicity besides known methods can be measured by checking if everyone on the team can read and understand code from somebody else. Respect I prefer to measure with closed team dot voting. For courage I find it very important to monitor how strong a team feels about pushing back or questioning (unnecessary?) user stories. 

It took some courage (ha -ha) to leave old practices in the past and I must admit not with every team and company this will be possible. If you practise fragile (bad agile), if the company does not really live by agile values, it will not work.     

For a dessert I want to share a video of a TED talk about missing baby dinosaurs. Maybe it gives you another perspective on known things.

 

Lies About Work

This week my sister was visiting us for big family celebration, that is the reason why this blog post is extremely short. My sister doesn’t work in IT, her topic is marketing and communications. I like to exchange business staff with her, because she lives in different information bubble and has different views. Last week we talked a lot about communication especially about coding the message. We also talked about team motivation and aspects which indicates or lets us to measure it.
Besides everything else, she suggested a book to read: Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World

After checking index, I really got curious about the book. Who else wants to join me to read it?

Update:

I think I did not explain enough why I want to read this book. It is not only about the index. Everyone in testing knows that communication has important role in software development, but how often we really try to understand the other side? I remember once I was listening to my colleague complaining about the project manager she had to work with. I could easily understand her frustration because I have worked with him before and suffered myself. This time as an outsider I could see that the PM is visually stressed, I could see that something is wrong. I surprised myself by suggesting my colleague to have lunch with PM and to find out what is going on. Her reply was: “no way!” I am sure if someone had similar suggestion for me, I would respond in the same way.

For me that conversation became a turning point. I started to look for opportunities to build bridges with other people involved in software development. I had very interesting time, getting to know people, things what they do and work problems what they face. Time to time I met difficult people, who were comfortable in their silo or didn’t want/were afraid to open up and to have a conversation. I chose to leave it like this. I told myself that I respect their choice, but in fact I gave up. Since I have a teenager at home, I keep saying to my husband and to myself – in times when it gets harder, we need to double our love, patience and understanding. “Nine Lies About Work” maybe controversial, but it is mainstream book about corporate world. World – which I always tried to ignore. I learned from my mistakes and now I am ready to have a lunch together.

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.

Shake It Off

image

I have three kids and they are my teachers. This is my oldest, 11 years old dreamer, lego builder and kayaker. A few weeks ago he participated in the local championship. He had bad results in solo and in team race they even did not finish – one of his two team mates felt in the water. It was cold and windy day. After they put their equipment back in place, I got some sweets from my car and went to find the boys to cheer them up. To my surprise, they were not disappointed at all, but instead planning to go to Berlin and be part of national team! “Berlin!? What Berlin? Wake up – you just got disqualified on local river!”- I screamed inside of me. I did say nothing out loud, but watched distanced their childish and untroubled behaviour.

A week later there was another competition. All three of them had good solo results and got qualified for Germany national championship. As a team they finished second and came home with medal. At first we did not believe our sons story (I was not at the race). Qualified for national races – yeah, right! But it turned out to be true. I shamed on me because I did not believe my child can achieve good results.

Short time ago I had talk at work. I am good with dealing feedback and criticism about my work – how I test, what I test, when I test. But this time it was about how I communicated. My first reaction was – this is not serious! I am very aware of importance of communication. I did the worst thing ever – I took it personal. Criticism was not about my work, it was about me as a person.

It took me few days, but than I remembered my son. I shook it off, analysed my communication as objective as I could, got second opinion and localised few weaknesses I want to work on for next few month. It is just one persons opinion and just one in row of many others. It is hard to stay professional if feedback is personal, but as my work experience grows, I see how greatly personality influences work issues. My next conference talk idea is to talk about trust – item, you can not put in contract, but what has huge impact in results.

Post Navigation