A short review of a whirlwind week at Agile Testing Days 2018

This year marked the 10th anniversary of agile testing days, and my ninth time attending. It was my busiest and best agile testing days yet – for so many reasons. 

Tutorial: Time to Lead

For our workshop on leadership and enablement for testers in agile teams, we had 16 participants from a wide variety of countries and teams. Over the course of the day, Zeb (our friendly developer) and I led them through exercises to:

  • be able to talk about the value of testing
  • identify what responsibilities and tasks can belong to a tester in a team
  • communicate with stakeholders
  • recognise what a team that believes in “whole team quality” looks like
  • find ways of achieving such a team
  • learn more about working with developers on e.g. code reviews and unit tests

This workshop has already run 6 times since April this year – and it’s one I (we) love giving. Definitely worth looking into for your teams!

Open Space

Throughout the week, Simone (our agile tester and agile coach), Huib Schoots and I were responsible for hosting the open space. Open space is a great concept: it allows people to learn from each other in a reasonably unconstrained setting. It is based on the premise that sometimes your biggest “aha moment” comes from a conversation you had outside of the conference rooms. During the week, we had sessions on empathy and vulnerability in managers, documentation, TDD, Q&A sessions with the keynote speakers and more. 

The MIATPP Award

It was hard not to mention this as the very first thing! On the Tuesday evening, the Agile Testing Days party took place. As is tradition, the award for the Most Influential Agile Testing Professional Person was presented to the winner of the community vote. There is no shortlist, there are no nominees. Everyone in the community can simply vote for a person they think deserves the award, based on their work and influence in the agile testing community.

This year, I received the award. I was absolutely honoured and speechless – and it really is the crowning achievement for me so far in my career. I know previous winners, and it is unbelievable to belong to their ranks. Thank you once again to everyone who voted for me!

Exploratory Testing Challenge

Funnily enough, winning the award made me even more nervous for my special session “live exploratory testing challenge”. One of my current topics is to really grapple with what we’re doing when we’re exploratory testing. I’ve been doing testopsies (narrated testing) and live exploratory testing, but Lisi Hocke had challenged me to do live exploratory testing of an application I’d never seen. Never one to say no to a challenge, I signed up! On Wednesday evening, a group of us spent a couple of hours watching me test, pairing with me and mob testing with me to discover what thought patterns, heuristics and structures are at work in our brains when we test. It was an experiment – and it went really well! We learned a lot, and – although there are some things that I can improve on for next time – it’s definitely something worth repeating. 

Keynote: Stop being a Hamster

To finish off the week, Huib and I did our keynote “get off the hamster wheel and start adding value!”. It’s a look at how we, as knowledge workers, need to look after ourselves, recognise our indicators for too much stress, and look out for them in our teams as well. We can only add value if we value ourselves enough to care for ourselves. Agile environments are theoretically “sustainable”, but the reality is that we can often get caught up on the hamster wheel – going faster and faster, making more and more mistakes, until we finally fall off. That’s not good for people, and it’s not good for projects. I really loved that many of the keynotes had a focus on self-care and using the principles we hold dear in agile to look after ourselves and change the world. 

As always, I left full of the magic and wonder of being surrounded by so many fantastic and passionate testers. That will carry me through until we meet again!