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.

 

 

Dare To Question!

More then month ago together with Lisa Crispin we run a workshop “Questioning requirements: improving quality for everyone”. The reason why we came up with this workshop, was to teach and to empower people to question requirements. As a tester I know how important is to question statements, ideas, requirements, designs etc. As trainer I know that with a lot of confidence you can run for presidency.

This is the story how we did that (without particular details in case you want to take the workshop in some other event ;) ).

Setting up

We had some challenges: we did not know how many people will come to our workshop and our time block was less than 2 hours. We took those restrictions and created a workshop, which we could easily scale. At the SwanseaCon we had around 32 participants, which we divided into 6 teams. Each team had a particular context to role play in a simulation. We emphasised that we wanted people to experiment and have fun. We tried to build safe space to learn and to try new things. We presented several tools that participants were invited to use to explore stories and to structure conversations with stakeholders (you can download them here). They were also free to use any other tool or framework they prefer.

simulation

We explained that we as “stakeholders” wanted to create an app and gave each group a list of desired features. In our background story we used words like “deep analysis” and “market research”. User stories were written in ambiguous way with aim to provoke the need to ask questions. The task was to create a release plan, creating stories for the features. Especially noting what feature they would like to start with.

how it went

All groups were extremely motivated, except one. There were lively discussions within the table groups and it was interesting to observe team dynamics. Especially interesting was to see that the group which struggled the most – none of them left the table or whole workshop. They were struggling together till the end. Another interesting thing – we as stakeholders got not so many questions as we expected to get. Just like in companies, our fictional teams were so busy working that they forgot that stakeholders are there in the room… We tried to interact with the teams, but nobody wanted our help and it looked more like we are disturbing them.

After simulation was accomplished, each team presented their release plan. or the process they come up with. After that we started debrief and our attendees exceeded our expectations when they started to reflect on their working experience in their fictional team and usage of tools we presented. It was great atmosphere in the room and we all learned from each other.

I think we managed to create a good workshop and would like to do it again at future conferences or other events.

Some things what workshop attendees learned.

Happy creators