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

Find Courage – A #TestBash Story

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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!

My First Exploratory Testing Workshop

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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.

How To Create A Workshop: Follow-up

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End of the last year I wrote about starting to create my first testing workshop. This is follow-up with details how I did it and results after the workshop.

Ash’s MindMap

As I know Ash and loved his workshop in TestBash Brighton, I took his mindmap as a proved recipe. It helped me to tune it and to have an overview. Especially helpful was everything under “Principles”. Small adjustments from my side – I added a node “Emails/Communication” for the “Checklists” section.

Creating Mental Model

With map in the hands, first thing what I did, was to create a mental model of the workshop. I spent more than week to build it. Very classy with pen and paper – my two favorite thinking tools. Some of the ideas what went through my head during that time: why company asked me to do a workshop? What kind of problems do they want to solve? What are possible solutions? What would be my solution? What background has people who will attend the workshop? What kind of skills they have? What kind of skills they need to have? What is the main, core thing to be able to solve their problem? How can I teach it? Can I teach it? How to build it up in small stages/ containers?

Some answers I knew, for the rest I decided for two possible versions – positive and negative. As a next step – I simulated dialogs with me and workshop students, where the students where unwilling to learn, disagreeing with my ideas or frame of work, not cooperating and simply not understanding what I say because of different background and level of information about software testing. May be it sounds silly, but it helps me to prepare and to deal with potential situations. With every simulation I check my model – does it work? Should I improve something?

Test The Workshop

When the mental model is done and tuned, than I started to test it. First I tested it with two of my colleagues. One of them has test management background, never did test automation before and shortly started to learn it. She liked some of my ideas, but her main comment about the subject in general was: it is so difficult and it is not possible to learn in one day; people will block them out because of amount of information.

That gave me a lot of thoughts. I went through my mental model again, cut all advanced level stuff, noted that I need slides for basics and changed the structure.

After I was done, I looked for people outside my company with whom to test the idea. Got very valuable feedback and some tips.

Only then I started to create the slides. When slides were done, I gave a short presentation of it to my colleague, who said that it is not possible to learn TA in one day. My heart singed, when she said, that now I build a good workshop.

Outline

So what was my plan? I started with fusion of “Test Automation with Lego” by Richard and “Mob Testing” by Maaret. The goal was to write script how to build a tower and they had to write it in the team, where one was a driver and everyone should had a posibility to be a driver. After that we “run” the scripts. Next step – to analyse the scripts and think about modularity. First learning block we would end with a little theory about testing and test automation, just to assure that we are on the same page. Before the lunch I wanted to start practical scripting in the teams, which we would continue in the afternoon. I planned to end the day with second theory part with lessons learned and suggestions and to wrap it all with another mob-test-automation-lego to acknowledge what we learned.

Results

How it went? Like in the life – unpredictable :) Lego as an ice-breaker and illustration of test automation worked very well. Light problem was with mob testing – drivers did not want to give away their positions. All my effort went unheard. I stopped pushing and paid attention that everyone is envolved even if as contributer.

The idea to analyze the scripts and try to modulyse them did not work, because scripts did not work. I switched to back up and we analsed one of their test cases.

My light theory part raised a lot of questions and took much more time as I planned. That is why before the lunch we managed only to share the files and set up for practical part.

As we started practical part, team required to change the planned setting and instead of team work they wanted to connect one laptop to the beamer and have a shared understanding how to start scripting. I agreed and than problems started… first two students could not connect their laptops to the beamer, with the third it worked, but again we lost the time. After basics were covered I asked to join their groups. Mob part we skipped, because it just did not work for them. The technical problems kept following. One students keyboard did not work. I suggested to get an external keyboard, but it was ignored. A second student in that team had too old browser version and did not have admin rights to update it. I suggested several times to change the teams but it was ignored as well. On another team driver had a mac book and he missed some files as we diagnosed afterward. I have to be honest – I was not prepared for any of those situations. Who comes to the workshop about test automation with broken keyboard?! But I think the thing which disturbed me the most was – that was OK for them!

At one point it stopped to be an organized workshop in teams. Everyone, except one, tried to script the test case on their laptops, shoutting around, sharing excitment and frustration. I was running from one to another and helping to fix problems. For a moment I saw one blinking word in my mind. Disaster. I had to skip second theory part and lego wrap up, all students wanted to make their scripts to work. We used every minute till the end of the workshop. And you know what? They did!

That moment I switched off that blinking word in my mind. The technical problems were OK for my students, they hit the goals of the workshop and all of them were smiling when they let the workshop. And yes, before we cleaned up, it looked like a workshop. Mission accomplished!

Summary

I am glad that I had a chance to create (in less than a month) and run a workshop. I am happy how it turned out. I realized how spoiled I am with technology at work (new keyboard or mouse is never a question). The students said it was interesting and usefull.

What I will do differently next time? I will put more effort to make sure that there is less as possible technical issues. I heard it before, but did not really understand until experienced myself. Another thing – Andrei has a list of skills what he expects from his students and if they do not cover part of it, he refuses to give a workshop. It sounded a little bit overacted as I talked to him about it, but now I think it would be good to draw a line, to set up basic knowledge level for participants.

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.