woensdag 3 augustus 2011

Holidaytime, readingtime

I'm on holiday and nothing more relaxing than to sit back in a garden chair and catch up on some reading, so that's what I did.

During the last half year I got two smaller books from Dutch testing colleagues that I still got on my to-read list and I got a book that I still had to finish so I grabbed the three, poured myself a large cool glass of (organic) pear-apple juice and started reading.

The first was finishing 'What got you here, won't get you there' by Marshall Goldsmith. (http://www.amazon.com/What-Got-Here-Wont-There/dp/1401301304/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1312367632&sr=8-1). I started reading this one as a recommended book from my coach in a leadership development program. Although I'm lazy regarding the whole setup of getting feedback and follow-up and probably won't follow the whole path described in the book. I have sure (already) grabbed some stuff from this book to apply in my daily practices and it made me aware of some habit I have that I might improve and gave me tips on how to do this. I think this is a must-read for all people who aspire to be better in their jobs, leadership and what not more, I even dare to go that far that it would be a good book for people who wan't to improve their personal lives, some of the examples in the book are also good for some homeimprovement.

The next one was the Dutch 'De held die voor mijn nachtrust zorgt' by Derk-Jan de Grood (the hero that takes care of that I have a good night's sleep)(http://www.valori.nl/de_echte_wereld/de_held_die_voor_mijn_nachtrust_zorgt).
It's a small book that is published (as first one) in the Valori, real-life series. Small books that make the theories of things applicable in practice or in other words; how it applies in day to day practice.
Derk-Jan's book describes some good stuff and makes it undertandable not for only 'us testers' but also for other disciplines in the IT. It focusses on having grip in the development process (on the project) and providing comfort within the organisation, most of it from the human perspective (like perception, feeling and emotions) in stead of theoretical models.
The material is clear and simple to understand (for me at least), and is accompanied by examples from some experts known in the testing community. Although most of what I read was 'an open door' for me (and I hope it would be for most of us who are into testing, testcoordination or testmanagement) the book is a good read to refresh the memory, to re-think (an reflect) on approaches that we apply and food-for-thought on the perceptions of stakeholders in our projects that we might have overlooked over time. The size of the book makes it a handy and easy approachable reference.

After reading I couldn't help to still have the feeling 'and who is that hero then..' it just seemed to miss something. Maybe my expectancy was that it would be more a description of what the hero does, more written from the person (that would be the hero) view. I also missed this connection in the concluding chapter. I would have expected something '.. applying this and that, makes the X my hero that takes care of... etc. ', now it was more a book full of (mind: usefull!) techniques and theories, but it just wasn't applied to 'the hero' that is mentioned in the title. IT gave me a bit 'I didn't just get what I expected' feeling that would immediately inspire me to grab the material in the book and become the hero in my organisation myself. In short; the question I formed in my mind 'What can I do to become this hero' wasn't answered in an obvious way.

The last book was that of Ard Kramer and Hans de Rooij: 'Het Q-mysterie' (also a Dutch book; the Q-mystery)(http://www.eclipseit.nl/over-ons/nieuws/categorie/Algemeen/titel/publicatie-het-q-mysterie).
First of all; the book is beautiful to see. Very impressive artwork and very high-quality glossy paper, it's a treat to just flip through the pages.
But don't judge a book by it's cover right?

The book is a very easy to read one. The examples are done by metaphores and it makes it really understandable and accessible. It's contents is not about theory, but focusses on the need of quality(level) within an organisation, related to its goals and why testing should thus be applied in stead of applying a bunch of strategies, techniques and templates to coherse some (false) feeling of quality. The main goal is to make the connection between testing and acquiring the optimal return of investment. The main tool to provide insight in the exact need for quality for product or organisation is the Product Quality Strategy. The PQS, which is short for the Product Quality Strategy, is a guideline which uses the ISO 9126 quality characteristics 'Functionality, Usability, Efficiency, Maintainability, Portability and Reliability' to make a diagram of the exact needs regarding these characteristics for the component of organisation.
Although I could follow most of the text regarding this concept; the diagrams and figures where mostly confusing, there was even one diagram with ecliptic figures in it, where I still haven't figured out how to read it. I guess that when you have the theory in mind and know it by heart, it's easy to understand those (beautiful) graphics, but in my case; it just confused me and should have more information in them to explain exactly what the (parts of) the images meant.

But honestly: The book is very pleasing, both in a graphical way and in the content way. It has really applicable stuff in it and I figure Eclipe (company of the authors) might also have an oppurtunity here to develop a workshop or short course to be able to use the PQS. I think the material is really applicable and very usefull to apply on a daily basis. It won't (have to/ should) take up much (valuable) time and will certainly help to focus on the exact needs. Ard and Hans did a good job!

Tip for both Derk-Jan as Ard/ Hans: consider publishing your books in English too... I think it would really benefit our non-Dutch colleagues as well.
And... I would REALLY like to thank both Derk-Jan as Ard for handing me the books (with a personal message in the cover!) to read (and apply..): THANK YOU!

And for know... I'll get back to my garden chair with my next 'want to reads' :
Terry Pratchett's 'I shall wear midnight', some novelettes, Personal Branding by Frank Kwakman and 'Managing the Testing Process' by Rex Black.