Wednesday, 28 November 2012

3 of 3: Eurostar Testconference 2012 – Lessons learned and to learn...

The testlab and the community Hub

I didn't write down all the presentations I have seen or all discussions I've had during the conference. Nor all ideas that popped up.

But I would like to mention the Test lab, which was positioned in the expo hall. This was great, until now the test lab was hidden away somewhere in a conference room, but now it was  open and visible to see. They had computers to test on and real robots you could test. If you found a bug, you got a nice t-shirt and I wear it with proud. When you get to a conference where the Test Lab of Bart Knaack or James Lyndsay is, reserve a few hours to spend there. You could be testing software with some of the well known testers in the world and learn something new.

Testing the Robots in the testlab
Community Hub
Something new at the Eurostar conference, a room where five minutes talks were executed, discussion and to relax. Also the Eurostar minmap of learning was made in this room. This is something like a big beautiful mindmap where the visitors of Eurostar could put subjects (by yellow papers) on the map, that are drawn visually by Nathalie Roosenboom.

I visited the community hub a few times, even got a free book there: "Who wants this book?": Experiences of sofware test automation The authors (Dorothy Graham and Mark Fewster) were there, so they signed my copy. This was one of the new books I wanted to read, and didn't buy yet.
Detail of the mindmap 'what did I learn at Eurostar'
The workshop of Marcus Gärtner
I like subjects that are not really about testing but help you in your daily work. I also like to be challenged in thinking and this workshop had both aspects. Marcus Gärtner named his workshop "Beyond testing". It was really way beyond testing and we all had difficulty keeping up the pace.

We started of with some questions about testing, but very quickly we had to form groups and start thinking and discussing the question: What is System thinking? We created a mind map and got even to complexity theory and other subjects.

Later on I talked about systems thinking and was advised by to read Quality software systems Volume 1-2 by Jerry Weinberg. I knew the books, but now I finally ordered them.

The discussion in our group in mind map format.
The workshop continued about communication and aspects of communication, in combination with playing role games in this workshop. Also in blog 1 of 3 of this series I mentioned the cause effect diagram. This was discussed and tried out by ourselves. After that Marcus talked about change in organizations and a way to support that process via a certain method. And even the break in between was a communication exercise (talk to a member of another group how that group had interpreted systems thinking).

So this was a fully filled 2,5 hour, very interactive, much to learn and think about session. OK, I was lost there a few times, but the subjects are in my notes and will certainly guide me for more learning.

The end
A conference ends and then there is time to think and reflect. I guess the conference was better then I expected beforehand. So maybe next year again to Eurostar... Well, as I really like the 'big cheese'  who runs the show next time, there is no hesitating in that and I expect even a better conference next time.

To summarize the lessons learned and to learn
So to summarize this, also to check on later in the next year, these are things, because of this conference I will actively use. If other ideas pop up, that's great, but for now:

Some books were mentioned that I will have to read now
Solving problems (is innovating)
  • Is it really a problem, maybe there is a problem behind the problem, what is the real cause of the problem?
  • Always check if the problem still exists.
  • Defocus on what is perceived and try to see the bigger issue behind it.
  • Start using cause-effect diagrams
Test reporting, explaining testing
  • Study reporting by for example visualizing testing and testing results (Research blogs that write about this subject)
  • Practice status reporting of a project: Stop where you are while working in a project and explain the status of the project in 30 seconds.
  • Stop using as much as possible the ISTQB words and use the business language for this.
  • Try to explain testing without using the word “test” in it. This is also something I heard from other presentations and on the Agile Testing Days. (Did the challenge this week, creating a plan to improve and structure testing, without using the word testing. That was a challenge, still have to refine this :-))
Create improving Testing within organizations checklist
  • testing dojos, focus on learning and training for testers
  • let people speak on conferences, introducing test work groups
  • less documentation by using mind mapping techniques and low tech dashboards
  • test improvement by session (session based test improvement?)
Cognitive biases
  • create checklist for overcoming biases and he mentioned
  • always be cautious when making decisions
  • Reference class forecasting (check with other industries and compare).
  • Double check the Michael Bolton presentation about confirmation bias
Skills I will work on the next months
  • Influencing other people
  • systems thinking
Lots of more ideas were going around, but I have to channelize this in this way. I hope it helps you too in some odd way that I wrote this down. See you!
And now on to my notes for the Agile Testing Days of last week... Pfew.

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