woensdag 28 december 2016

Agile Testing Days Diary - Second Day

Lean Coffee seems to be a problem for me to attend as I’m still sipping my coffee and eating breakfast as I see people flocking in the Fritz bar for this event. I didn’t even go to bed that late last night, comparing to other attendees who partied-on till 4-ish this morning. I remember a tweet of Richard Bradshaw, stating he brought his own pillow and thinking ‘what nonsense’, but I’m sure to bring my own pillow next year too. The Dorint mattresses are as hard as the pillows are airy; meaning that when you put your head on it: it’s gone - totally flat. I tried folding it in four, but that didn’t help much.

Well, I was on time for the keynote where Diana Larsen, also known on twitter as DianaOfPortland, presented ‘Liftoff: Start & Sustain Successful Agile Teams’.  Instead of using ‘Kickoff’, the ‘Lift Off’ is a better way of heading towards a destination called: “High Value Delivery”.  But before you can Liftoff, you must ask yourself if your product has a committed sponsor and identified product manager, if they can articulate the business case for the product, if someone has allocated the funding and a budget to start the endeavour and if the intention of what you want the team(s) to accomplish is clear.  If so, you can move on to the next step. But before getting to that, you must be aware- although many people don’t like the notion of being a ‘system’- that teams are complex, adaptive systems, with interactions, emotions and the occasional ‘naughty guy’. Being aware of this sets the basis of also being able to create the factors for success. You will also be able to work on something that is called ‘cohesion’ in teams, people that have worked in very cohesive teams will know what she’s talking about and Diana states that once you’ve experienced such a team you’ll always be trying to find a team like that again. Group cohesion is a multifaceted process with four main components which are; social relations, task relations, perceived unity and emotions. She also states: “One learns best when we feel more alive”  and she elaborates on the conditions to be set to promote learning. What I liked the best of this keynote however, was the part about appealing to the humanness. I thought up the term  ‘Sensatory Pleasing’, and my mind started to wander off to what one can do to please the senses, making people feel good and thus not only make the liftoff a success, but also help with group cohesion. Food, drinks, colors, pictures, music ánd smells; it might be very interesting to see if you put an effort into these aspects have that impact when starting a project....  I get back to the keynote again to see something on team chartering and setting goals. I was also charmed by the concept of a test-driven mission;  Make the tests during the Liftoff, test during the journey.  Because everything IS driven by testing in Agile. This keynote inspired me to get into dept of the matter more. If you are interested too, Diana has written a book about Liftoff: https://pragprog.com/book/liftoff/liftoff-second-edition and more information on Diana can be found here: http://www.futureworksconsulting.com/about/diana-larsen

The next track I visited was a ‘New Voice’ track. It was called ‘Sketching User Stories, Making user stories easy and interesting for the whole team and the new voice to be heard was: Viktorija Manevska (@viki_iki). I really like the visualisation stuff in software development and Viktorija does a good job in explaining the benefits of using pictures to get everybody on the same page. I like the statement: “someone explains 3 times and says 'do I have to draw you a picture'. If you could draw it why didn't you start with that?”. She explains how imagery triggers another part of the brain, stimulating to ask deeper questions.  She also shows the tools she uses, like paint and balsamic. Tools don’t have to be highly advances, as long as the meet the purpose used for. But a real powerful thing happens when she shows a description to fold a Christmas tree (origami like) from a piece of coloured paper. The whole room struggles to fold something into the requested item, but – as far as I can tell- nobody manages this in the allotted amount of time. Then she shows imagery of the way to fold the tree, a bit like the way IKEA uses images to explain how to assemble their furniture, and she assigns us to the same task. An behold; everybody is able to fold the tree and in half of the allotted time!  And to shamelessly plug my (Dutch) blog on TestNet about visualisation: https://nieuws.testnet.org/vak/een-beeld-zegt-meer-dan-duizend-woorden/  (to be translated in English in the near future on the FunTESTic blog)

I ran into a PACKED (!!!) room to hear Maaike Brinkhof on ‘Mapping Biases to Testing’, I was lucky to have one of the last seats, but ended up sharing two chairs –forming a provisionally made bench- with three persons. She started with a survey which worked partly. Again: the audio-video monster was haunting the premises and it affected Maaike’s presentation too. (slidedeck: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0By2lWBEOcdiocDhoYmdUc2lUeU0) . Whether we like it or not; we are all biased. Maaike explains some of the biases we as testers are influenced by. She elaborates on the ‘confirmation bias’, being the mother of all biases and effortlessly (she seriously has great English speaking abilities!) goes to the Halo-effect, ‘what you see is all there is’, availability heuristic and closing the loop with referring to the confirmation bias again. The anchoring effect is explained after that. She also refers to a must-read book, mentioned at least three times in her talk, which is called: thinking fast and slow from the author Daniel Khaneman. The book greatly influenced her apparently. I think everybody is biased in some way, I like that Maaike is explaining what certain biases impact us in testing and what behaviour is connected to that.
In the break I notice something: Huib Schoots who is doing the keynote after the break is really, very energetic and seems to become more so by every minute that passes, while I’m getting more and more quite now my workshop is approaching. Is this a different physical effect that is a difference between an introvert (me) and and extrovert (Huib)? In other words: do extroverts become more energetic and introverts more into themselves when a talk to be given by them is to be given? Hmmm..more food for thought...

After setting up the room for my workshop , I attend the next keynote; One upon a time by Huib Schoots and Alex Schladebeck. The keynote is all about storytelling and a commercial about ‘best buds’ is shown, where I –seriously- get emotional (sappy stuff!!!). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlNO2trC-mk We as humans have the capability of storytelling and it’s a powerful instrument. An exercise is done where we have to tell a story about our  project and our failure. The sound in the room is enormous and the energy produced is awesome. They also tell about the science behind storytelling. Although I like science facts, I can’t help but think that (yes... it’s the Halo-effect taking over) that everything has to have a scientific basis nowadays because else it won’t be useful, fun or valuable. I like to have some magic, some imagination and some thinking of my own left. I can’t help it, but I get annoyed because I blame certain ‘skools’ for this. Why can’t we just state things without spending numerous slides on the scientific basis and just be cool with that??? It ruins the keynote for me a bit. I notice I’m annoyed, angry and particularly biased at this moment. Luckily Alex is then telling about her experience with her violin and her special connection to it. Making the keynote having something special again. Storytelling to me is about emotions, tension, climax and inspiring imaginative processes. I feel strongly about the power of storytelling and in this matter I think this keynote is valuable. I also think that imagination and cold-hard facts are more difficult to combine. In my mind-cabinet, I’m making a note titled ‘scientific and factual storytelling’ to make a distinction with regards to storytelling for the sake of entertainment, motivation and other ways of storytelling.

My workshop is up next. It isn’t crowded at all. That at first feels like a disappointment. I’ve put so much effort in this workshop. But then the magic happens. The attendees that are there, and I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not the numbers that count but the involvement (!!), are really engaged in the topic. Bearing with me. Although it might seem I’ve loads of experience in speaking, it’s a huge effort for me and I still get very anxious and nervous when I have to ‘perform’. I’m giving it all of my energy and luckily for me: it paid off. I think deductive games are a fun way to inspire and motivate our inquisitive mindset; so why not use those to help design better user stories and question specifications. I was really grateful for having such an engaging and enthusiastic group of people in my workshop and I felt really blessed. And thanks to Eddy Bruin, I now know that actually playing a game of WhoIsIt? Helps clarify the intentions.

I cleaned out the room afterward and was a tit-tat late for the keynote of Keith Klain. And what a timing to enter a room and seeing a slide stating: “I don't know what the #$%&! I'm doing” , why I wasn’t at the keynote from the beginning It felt like a completely appropriate slide at that moment.  I didn’t get much of the talk though, I was till unwinding and getting to myself from the workshop. Like I said, it takes a lot of energy and a lot of effort for me to do these kind of things, so the keynote; although I really wanted to snatch some learning stuff from it, It just didn’t stick. I did get something about ‘tool fetishism’ and the purpose of doing things. But I hope that the published slide-deck will refresh my memory again.

After the keynote the sponsors and exhibitors did a speed round and after that food and drinks were available in the lobby.  I planned and managed to attend the ‘Beer tasting and testing’ workshop by Eddy Bruin and Bram Bronneberg in the Fritz bar at 19:30. I was there early, because the places available were limited. Bram and Eddy had prepared a couple of rounds where everybody got a beer and a description of two beers on paper. By tasting the beers you had to figure out which beer was in your glass. I know one thing; I’m not good at tasting beer! I had the ‘Berliner Weisse’ correct (the other description was of the Saison). But tasting the difference between ‘outmeal stout’ and ‘schwarzbier’ was a bit more difficult and I failed to taste the distinction between ‘Belgian Blonde Ale’ and ‘Belgian Golden Strong Ale’ (which I felt quite embarrassed about since I like the Delirium Tremens a lot). I got the Belgian Dubbel correct, being not the ‘Doppelbock’, but managed to fail again with the choice between ‘Belgian Dark Strong Ale (Quadruple)’ and the ‘English Barleywine’. After the tasting, the ‘testing’ began. All attendees got a ‘bingocard’ and a description of defects in beer, that can occur when making errors during the brewing process. Apparently there are tablets that you can add to beer that mimic those flaws. The tablets were added to the beer and the attendees had to guess which error was made. That was very difficult and I managed to get them all wrong. But then again... I wasn’t really looking forward tasting ‘skunk-taste’, ‘sewage-flavour’ and ‘baby-puke’. Which respectively stand for ‘lightstruck  a strong skunk like flavour imparted to beer that has been exposed to sunlight for too long’, ‘mercaptan, a drain like flavour that occurs in beer due to aging and oxidisation once packaged’ and ‘butyric, a baby sick or cheesy flavour formed by bacteria during wort production or in sugar syrups’...

After the tasting and testing, I felt very jolly, I went to the cabaret by Mephistoteles Fassbinder. A role perfectly performed by Daniel Maslyn. I agreed to telling a story there. An anecdote about me being a simulation victim and about ‘hairy bits down-there’ (you know what I mean...*blush*). Don’t worry; it’s not having the actual hair ‘down-there’ but about a special made pair of trousers to do delivery-drills at the obstetrics department of the hospital. But it makes an hilarious story. I think it was well received, considering all the other acts performing at the cabaret. Like the awesome performance of Alex Schladebeck and Tomm Roden, Gil Zilberfeld, George Dinnwiddy (as Cat), Four Yorkshire men and a sing-a-long of Test me tender...

During the cabaret Morten Hougaard and me also had to perform some real first aid, when somebody bumped into a doorpost holding a glass, which chattered and cut up the person’s hand.. Luckily in first-aid there is an universal language J. Some of it wasn’t serious, but one finger was really cut up very badly and we send the person to the hospital, where 3 stitches were the result of the venture.

The evening thus turned out to be quite adventurous and when entering the bar I seemed to have started a trending topic, because both groups I joined were talking about body hair and shaving-anecdotes. At 1-ish I really became very tired and decided to leave the crowd to face the hard-mattress-and-flat-cushion bed. 

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