Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Thoughts from Let's Test 2012

Date: 7-9 May 2012
Location: Runö, Sweden
This is a brain dump of thoughts (partial in content and with more analysis later)......

Conference T-1
I arrived just after breakfast on the day before the start of the conference for facilitation training from Paul Holland. Although I'd seen facilitation up close from SWET conferences - it was good to hear some of the theory and problems behind the method. We discussed a little about the decision points that facilitators need to weigh up - of course, Paul makes it look simple - and that's the result of practice and judging the dynamic in the room. I was really happy to get that opportunity - learning different aspects from each of the sessions (2 conference + 1 ?EWT). Cool!

After a facilitation briefing we then joined a LEWT-style peer conference - initiated by James Lyndsay - I will jot some notes on this later. Here I was able to practice my first facilitation, picked up some good feedback and had a great day!

Tutorial Day
Attended Fiona Charles' tutorial on Test Leadership. Didn't know what to expect, went with an open mind - ready to hoover up ideas. We seemed to be thrown out of balance (probably intentionally) by the exercises - which then triggered different approaches. I enjoyed the experience - problem solving practice, observing others solve problems and debriefs. Fabulous. I think the lessons from this will bubble up for a while....

Met what seemed like half of DEWT - very cool guys (Ray, Peter & Huib).

Met 2 very interesting testers from Switzerland (Ilari & Mischa) - met both(?) Belgium testers (Pete & Zeger) - please if anyone else saw a yellow parachute/paraglider down by the water before dinner on the first day, let them know :)

Test lab
Thoroughly enjoyed. It seemed to be an exploration of collaboration with several scenario experiments injected. I found that fascinating. On the first evening we worked with test planning and execution - despite lots of issues with the environment and some early disorganization within 90 mins our group (Huib, Peter 'Simon', Modesty & Joep) actually gelled and generated useful information about the applications.

On the second evening I joined the test lab late (after attending the lightning talks) and sat with Rob Sabourin. Fabulous - soon after joining we found a bug for which we then proceeded to, in his words, gather 'compelling evidence'. We gelled well on that exercise and formed hypotheses to discount along the way, using good lab notes. We continued our debrief afterwards - Rob has the skill of forming a helicopter view of the situation. I'm now in proud possession of his book "I Am A Bug".

Evening events
I think there was something for everyone, and more than I could choose - I could easily have cloned myself to attend the talks (Michael Hunter and Alan Richardson), BoF, art walk, crash test party.

I was in the testlab and listened in to the lightning talks. A talk on some ideas of visualizing test coverage from Kristoffer Ankarberg, a look at "JAM and ACT" testing in an agile context (I didn't catch the presenter's name) and Duncan Nisbet (the "bloke in shorts" ;) ) giving a briefing about NW tester gathering (in England) and aspects of community and learning (just like at a peer conference).

I haven't re-read through my notes yet, but I found thought-provoking ideas or "I should research more into that" moments in all the ones I attended:

Anders Dinsen "Testing in the Black Swan Domain" (I also facilitated)
Rikard Edgren "Curing our Binary Disease"
Christin Wiedemann "You're a Scientist - Embracing the Scientific Method in Software Testing" (I also facilitated)
Henrik Emilsson "Do you trust your mental models"

I enjoyed them all - and will refer to them in future posts! Actually the choice of sessions was very good, making choosing not an easy task!

And finally (for now)...
Stumbled on the "Just?" question with Martin Jansson - more on that later...

Was it fate? I had #1 on my K-cards and I asked the first facilitated question at the first Let's Test.... (The answer is no, of course! Or was it? ;) )

I'm still processing the experiences, thoughts and discussions from the conference. During and after I formulated several hypotheses and started seeing threads of new ideas - sign of a great conference!

This was a conference that embraced many elements of a peer conference: peers discussing testing with one another, aided by great location, great facilities and great organizers - yes, Ola, Henrik, Henke, Tobbe, Johan - that's you!


  1. Hi Simon, nice opening (Lets Test) post - thanks for sharing!

    Like you, I've taken so much from the conference - those "I should research more into that" moments you talk about mean I'm going to busy long into July & August getting my head around the topics!

    It was great meeting you & I hope we will meet again. Also, will you be making the slides from your session available please?


    Duncs (the guy in shorts)

    1. Hi Duncan,

      Great meeting you too! Look forward to the next meetup...

      I've put a link to the slides on the "Published Elsewhere" page (at the top of the page), and I think they'll be on the lets-test site soon.


  2. Hi Simon

    Thanks for sharing your Let's Test experience. It is cool to read all the impressions people gathered during the conference.

    And yes, I think you having #1 on your K-card AND asking the first question in the first session at the first Let's Test conference has some significance. Let's investigate, maybe we even find some unicorns :-)

    Alright, it was a pleasure meeting you and hopefully see you at other conferences again.

    1. Hi Ilari,

      Good meeting you too - and getting fooled by the 'magic' - even though I knew I was getting fooled!

      There'll be more reflections that have their seeds from Let's Test!

      Yes, there'll be more conferences where we meet up!