Monday, 28 February 2011

Am I a Context-Driven Tester?

" #softwaretesting #testing "

I'm writing this as a brain-dump that happened during a lunchtime walk...

James Bach made a very interesting post this weekend, here, and there has been a deal of discussion about it - both on blog and off.

Bundled into the comments religion started popping up - religion is a powerful metaphor - it distils some of the intensity around the distinctions. That kick-started my right-hemispere into overdrive...

Declaration of intent?
I've never come out and said I'm a context-driven tester - I've never felt the need - I don't (or try not to) preach (I had enough of that at school), and I'm not a missionary for the church of xxxx testing.

So, what do I do?
Well, I try to do my testing job in the best way I can, with the learnings and leaning that I have. If you've looked at some of my reading list, here, you'll understand that only a part of my learning is geared towards "traditional software development". Yes, the human aspect is very important - understanding how behaviour, bias, thinking traps, thought processes and group dynamics affect the product under development - starting day 1.

I conciously apply elements of systems thinking to the problems I work with (it's very evident when I work with someone from the analytic or factory school) - but I must treat the problem on its merits, how else can I give it my best input.

Does this make me a CDT?
Maybe, but not on its own.

But even when I work with people with strong analytic/factory tendencies my aim is to leave them with the impression of the value my input is bringing.

Does this make me a missionary/franchiser? 
Maybe. But in a "nice machiavellian" way.

But, at the end of the day, I'm in it for me - I'm responsible for my learning - and it's that approach that I hope comes across to people I work with. Yes, I look at problems differently from some. Sometimes they want to look at the problems "my way". Then I just think, "result"!

Either way, context is very important to the problems I deal with. My toolbox is forever growing - as their is no best toolbox - and a big part of my work is geared towards tester-to-non-tester communication. So,

  • CDT? Maybe. 
  • CDT atheist? Maybe.
  • Good tester? Hopefully.
  • CDT community wannabe? Yes.
  • Big toolbox? Definitely!

Have you thought about testing from the school, religion, cult or community perspective?

Sunday, 27 February 2011

My Conference Thinking 2011

" #softwaretesting #agiletd #esconfs #iqnite "

My conference radar so far...

Agile Testing Days 2011

My submission to the conference was accepted, which I'm very excited about. It's an experience report using exploratory testing, with semi-scripted input, and bridges a gap from traditional to more agile (or exploratory) practices. The conference itself looks very interesting and I'm looking forward to CONFER-ing a lot!

EuroStar 2011

Unfortunately I missed the deadline for this conference. I didn't want to re-use a presentation that I've done elsewhere (or will do elsewhere) and had recently being formulating two new presentations - but I didn't have the finishing touches ready :( I took the good advice of Nathalie and Rikard on submissions (here), and didn't want to rush anything. They'll be presented somewhere, sometime. I don't know if I'll make it there as a visitor - need to juggle the bugdet for confs and training this year - but who knows...


There's an internal conference in Linköping (Sweden) that I'm waiting to see if my proposal has been accepted. It's one that I was running a lot internally in the autumn and is an experience report (using 3 different report examples) to show how numbers can fool the report reader. There are elements to do with cognitive bias in there and it's one I enjoy giving. I'm currently re-vamping it - maybe putting in to prezi form - to put it online at a later date.

Next Generation Testing

I saw a tweet from Darren McMillan that he's going to present at this Unicom (not unicorn!) conference. Good for him! I was invited to present there in Autumn 2009, but wasn't able to make it. Hopefully, I'll be invited back some day - as I know there's some clever peeps that usually attend!


I enjoyed presenting at Iqnite Nordic 2010 - they were very well organised, with interesting regular and keynote speakers. Just waiting to see if there will be a Nordic 2011...

CAST 2011

By what I've read for this conference, this year, it's going to be a don't-miss event for anyone who approaches their work in a context-driven way. For me - it falls bang in the middle of holiday season and we've already committed to a bunch of travelling. But, I hardly ever say never - so I'm still keeping my fingers crossed!

Swedish Workshop on Exploratory Testing #2 (SWET2)

This peer conference is happening in April and I'm really looking forward to this it. I know there'll be a lot of good discussions with clever and eager testers. Just polishing off my submission for this one.

So, that's how it looks for me so far....

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Aspects of Motivation in Software Testing

" #softwaretesting #testing "

I'm currently looking at some areas of why some managers and stakeholders are so interested in test case counting, amongst other things. At the same time I had the animation (below) pointed out to me (it's based on a Dan Pink talk - you can find him on TED).

If you replace the motivation examples (in the animation) with a drive towards test case counting then you see a lot of similarities to software testing. If you think of the test case counting as the mechanical work - or the non-cognitive skill demanding work then you might recognise:
  • Measuring work based on test case counting -> worse performance.
  • Measuring and rewarding work based  on mechanical skill (little/no thought implied) -> button pressing testing ->  worse performance.
Dan goes on to suggest a way to get away from this type of de-motivation and towards a more motivated form of work, using Autonomy, Mastery and Challenge - aspects that are important where cognitive skills are necessary in ones daily work. He gives examples where this has worked in various communities. 

If you have these in your daily work then I guess you're quite happy about it. If not, does this bother you?

Enjoy the animation!

Time to think about what's motivating you in your daily work...

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Carnival of Testers #18

" #softwaretesting #testing "

Carnival number 18, maybe it's coming of age, maybe still a little rebellious - ok, enough with the analogies.. January was a very reflective month - lots of look backs at 2010, some looking forward, new ideas, topics and illustrations - all making for varied and interesting reading:

Looking back

  • Darren McMillan was one of the first of the new year to look back, here.
  • Another interesting journey was described was Trish Khoo in her 2010 reflection.
  • A packed 2010 for Lynn McKee was described, here. I get tired just reading it...
  • The cartoon tester (Andy Glover) celebrated a first anniversary of the cartoon blog.

Looking Forward

  • Geir Gulbrandsen was looking to the year ahead with some ideas about his intended learning areas. Have a look.

Looking through the looking glass?

  • A fun reflection on activities with software testing in general was given by Pradeep Soundararajan, here.
Looking good!

  • The Dutch Exploratory Workshop on Testing (DEWT - is it the workshop or testing that is exploratory?) was born
  • I enjoyed reading about Eric Jacobson's work on a first lightning round for testers - something many groups could easily adopt.
  • Martin Jansson made some interesting points about how testers can help with technical debt.
  • The SPIES mnemonic was explained by Nancy Kelln, here. There's also a pointer to Lynn McKee's listing of testing mnemonics, here.

Looking biographical!

  • Rob Lambert & the STC launched a new e-book on the Diary of a Test Manager. Rob says it's fictional and not about him!

Looking like an interesting meetup!

  • An STC-sponsored tester meetup is happening in February in Nottingham - Adam Brown wrote about it, here.


  • What started out as a tweet from Michael Bolton turned into a series of posts, the last one here.

Looking clearer!

  • Seeing systems problems and taking a wider view was the topic of a post from Esther Derby. Worth reading.
  • A nice illustration from Joe Strazzere about issues with test estimation and guesstimation.
  • What does thinking outside the box mean? Some reflections from Lynn Mckee related to this.
Until the next time...