Agile Testing Days 2013 – Day 1 Keynotes Notes

The conference days, apart from the first day which was a tutorial one, consisted of a morning start keynote, followed by 2 talks (in which you could pick 5 different tracks), an after lunch keynote, followed by 2 more talks or workshops and a closing day keynote.

“Agile Testing is nonsense, because Agile is testing” by Andrea Tomasini

It was the first talk/keynote of the conference and the feeling afterwards was that Andrea tried to cover a little bit too much ground specially considering we were just getting started. I guess you could argue that if he tried to deliver the same keynote towards the end of the conference then people would have been exhausted already so it wouldn’t have worked. There was plenty of information and here are some of my notes (also as a side note: just because I write down my conference notes, it doesn’t necessarily mean I agree with them, it means I would be happy to discuss them with you, and that hopefully it has sparked some interest from you too):

  • testing is an attitude – being competitive is an attitude of mind;
  • questions matter a lot more than the mind;
  • every step performed while creating a new product is unique, therefore all testing is unique;
  • clients don’t always have domain knowledge to know what is right or not;
  • inspect the outcome and learn to validate assumptions and hypothesis;
  • if we test because we don’t trust what the team did then we are far away from understanding the true value of testing;
  • testing as an approach: if we write a test that doesn’t bring anything new, then it brings no value;
  • we like to learn using short feedback loops;
  • being successful once doesn’t mean you got it right – you could have got lucky (“works on my machine!);
  • reduce:
    • social risk
    • schedule and cost risks
    • business risks (show it to the customer as often as possible; contracts are not as important as collaborations)
    • technical risk (no one does a project twice – each step is an opportunity to learn)
  • testing as a practice:
    • creating a vision with stakeholders
    • test as a vision – you test hypothesis first, then you go back and test again after thinking about scaling the business
    • the next step is consulting – get consultants to help fill the gaps
    • co-creating – you start creating something that at the beginning no one knew what it was
  • don’t overload people when trying to go lean – it’s not only about reducing waste;
  • Unnecessary variations – keep the flow even;
  • wasteful activities – remove non value adding ones;
  • when retrospective actions keep being the same then no continuous improvement process is in place
    • under pressure your muscle memory wins so you will do the same mistake
  • Testing is
    • an attitude because we embrace the Agile manifesto and its principles, we have to accelerate learning, and requires individual commitment to validate assumptions
    • everybody makes mistakes, every mistake is an opportunity to learn
    • testing is an approach, it requires to systematically initiate everything we do by understanding the constraints, and the expected outcome
    • testing is a practice, because once we develop the attitude and learned the approach, we will be able to emerge practices.

“Agile Testing: Strength through interdependence” by Mary Gorman

  • Types of interdependence:
    • pooled interdependence: marketing, develop, training, operations
    • sequential interdependence: analyse, design, develop, test
    • reciprocal interdependence: analyse to and from design, and so on for develop and test
    • comprehensive interdependence: 4 quadrants (analyse, design, develop, test) interacting with each other
  • strongly interdependent team relies on each other;
  • trust: team interdependence is built on a foundation of mutual trust;
  • capacity for trust: trust ourselves and others
    • 3 C’s of trust: contractual, communication and competency
      • contractual: clear expectation, meet commitments
      • communication: who knows what, when, open to feedback from each other, direct, constructive feedback
      • competence: trust of capability, respect each other, engage others and empower them, help others learn new skills
  • agile activities: discover via structured conversation (explore -> value/evaluate -> confirm (loop))
  • typical testing used to happen when code was happening; we need to bring it to the discovery stage (early testing)
  • we can’t afford the V&V model anymore – we need to collapse the hands and bring it together
  • product requirements interdependencies:
    • external: where to begin, where to end?
    • internal: 7 dimensions (user, interface, action, data, control, environment, quality attribute), techniques, user and action / action and data / data and interface have to be tested together, cross interdependent and internal dependent
    • techniques: scenarios, example, data tables, given when then, planguage (Tom Gilb)
    • shared techniques: yield a strong, higher quality product
    • interdependence across all views
    • interdependent wear, fail, dependent controlling, interdependent strong, flexible.

“The science behind building and sustaining high-performance teams through understanding behavioural science, neuroscience and social psychology” by Peter Saddington

  • True self organisation? Theory or reality?
    • ability to change and influence everything around you in autonomous teams
  • high performance – high productivity, fun, sustainability;
  • people are the problem… and the solution, not heuristics, methods or patterns;
  • emotions aren’t accurate over time;
  • as behaviour patterns are understood, accuracy of predictable engagement pattern increases;
  • as team dynamics are understood productivity of teams increase
    • and management effort decreases, shifting towards inspiring, enabling and fulfilling people – managers become managers of inspiration instead of issues;
  • re-interview process:
    • what do other people say you are?
    • what do you love to do (outside work)?
    • who do you look up to (mentor/role model)? why?
    • what type of problems do you enjoy solving (outside work)? why?
    • how do you know you’ve done a good job at something (outside work)?
    • what is your best way of supporting others (outside work)?
  • the power of play (fun):
    • year after year (for the past 30 years) fun has only decreased
    • happier people are more productive people
    • increase fun – increase innovation
  • how do we get more fun at work?
    • purpose
    • autonomy
  • switching context causes disruption to teams: silly and unproductive context switching;
  • multiple projects cost:
    • money to companies
    • 40% loss in productivity
    • visual input drops 29% and brain activation drops 53%
    • context switching linked to memory loss
    • multitasking linked to madness
  • focus is the important word;
  • effective leaders should see themselves not as managers or even problem solvers but as lovers of people and inspiration starters;
  • understand people, increase fun, focus.
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