Let’s Test 2015: My Retrospective of Day 2

After a pretty long first day at Let’s Test, the second day of the conference was already ago. I decided to have a bit of a lie in so I missed breakfast, but managed to grab a lovely cup of coffee and jam sarnie in the main hall right before the first talk! That fuelled me enough to face another awesome day!

9:30am - Effective Practice Manager

*Hitting Home*

The day kicked off with a great talk by Erik Davis about how to become a more effective manager within your organisation. For those that haven’t met Erik, he’s such a down to earth and calm guy and not only presented the talk from the heart, but beautifully kept the audience engaged by telling a story about his ideas, challenges and experiences within his company.

Erik started off by setting the scene and the context really well, where he talked about the current status of his company. He talked about things like the company hierarchy and where he sat within it, as well as a an overview of the people at the top, about the effect they had on decisions and how change averse they really are with the mentally of “if it ain't broke, don’t fix it”. Finally he gave us an interesting overview of his thoughts as to why it’s so difficult to find good testers out there and how the world doesn’t really breed testers, through the education system. Very true - totally agree with you there! 

This talk really hit home, because I strongly relate to many things Erik must be going through. Building and nurturing a team is not an easy task especially starting from scratch so having to really thinking about all aspects from people all the way to process takes a lot of stamina, discipline and perseverance. 

This talk also confirmed many doubts or fears I might have had as well about “am i making the right decisions”, “should I be thinking in this way?” “oh god, I really annoyed that person with my decision, but...the team is better off” all these thoughts can mount up and lead to a lot of doubts. So it was great to hear others out there are taking the same steps and are facing similar challenges.

Erik Davis: Effective Practice Manager                                                                                     Photography: Martin Nilsson

Erik Davis: Effective Practice Manager                                                                                     Photography: Martin Nilsson

Erik then went on to talk about how he started to change the way the testing team was functioning. And we’re not talking so much tools or testing itself, but more around creating a community of practice, through encouraging talks, introducing job families instead of titles and many more which you can see in my sketchnotes - take a look! Creating a community of practice is such an important part of nurturing and building a discipline so I think what he’s doing is great!

After the talk, I had a quick 1-2-1 conversation with Erik and asked “If you could build your team all over again from scratch what would you do differently?” his answer was what I predicted, which was start with a small group of people who “get it” and are passionate about testing and build the team from there. Sounds rather familiar ;) 

Once again, great start to the day!

10:30am - More coffee!

*I wonder if there are cookies?*

During another quick coffee break, it was time to choose from the list of workshops. I was a little torn between Huib Schoot’s workshop about “How to be an explorer of software” and Leo Hepis’ workshop “Different Strokes for different testers” But in the end, Leo’s grabbed my attention a little more - sorry Huib, promise I will come next time (and incase there are those who are interested to learn more about Huib’s workshop here’s a link about the session, I’ve heard awesome things about it!) So off to Room Folkets Hus 3 I went. 

11:00am - Different Strokes for Different Testers (Part 1)

*It’s all about people!*

As I entered the room that I would call “HQ” for the next 6 hours or so, I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but I had a feeling this session was going to be about people, and it turns out I was right! YES! Winner! Why would this get me really excited? Well, here’s some context for you guys.

My general attitude in life has always been that people help shape you into a better person (whether you realise it or not). Having the opportunity to actively bounce ideas off each other, sharing thoughts and collaborating with others, allows us to build our bank of experiences and our attitude towards everyday decisions and it’s these behaviours I always encourage the testers and certainly others within my company to think about and practice within the work environment. 

At the same time, looking through a different lens, I feel that it’s also crucial to have a good level of understanding about people especially when building and nurturing a team, learning about their strengths, their weaknesses, understanding what motivates them as well as what doesn’t. Even understanding who they work well with or what skills they can balance with others. So I am always fascinated by people and how habits, personalities and experiences define and often influence behaviours. (Watch this space for another upcoming blog post!).

So back to the workshop. As I mentioned above, our workshop speaker was Leo Hepis. What an awesome guy! Leo is someone whom you can spend hours talking to and is so mindful and patient when you portray your thoughts and ideas. He was a great speaker!

Leo kicked off the first part of the session with a quick run through of the day’s agenda and talked about how the day’s workshop was all about personality types and through the Myers Briggs type indicator, we would learn more about personalities and behaviours leading to eventually run our own Myers Briggs assessment. AWESOME!

Leo Hepis: Different Strokes for different testers                                                                         Photography: Martin Nilsson

Leo Hepis: Different Strokes for different testers                                                                         Photography: Martin Nilsson

Exercise A: What do testers do?

Leo asked all of us to first write down on a piece of card the different activities that testers do. Seems easy enough, but it did make me wonder “where are you going with this Leo?” After we individually wrote our thoughts down we spent some time talking and reflecting about what those activities meant to us (with the whole group) and why we thought they were important during our day to day roles. We then put those cards away for a later exercise. 

Exercise B: What’s your personality?

The second exercise started out with the whole workshop group reading, discussing and understanding the different personality types. After each discussion, Leo asked up to pick which option we were from the four dimensions of personality preferences: 

  • Where you focus your attention: Extrovert or Introvert (E or I)
  • The way you take in information: Sensing or Intuition (S or N)
  • How you make decisions: Thinking or Feeling (T or F)
  • How you deal with the world: Judging or Perceiving (J or P)

The next part was analysing our selected options ( and this was the fun part, which i really enjoyed). For each personality preference Leo asked us to cluster ourselves between two sides of the room, for example for Extrovert or Introvert, all the Extrovert’s were asked to move to the left side of the room and the Introverts were asked to move to the right side of the room and each group was tasked with answering a question (in order to reflect how we would react in situations based on our personalities). For this particular one, Let’s just say, I was flying solo on the Extrovert side! Haha, which gave us all a good giggle, but initiated some brilliant conversations around learning more about why introverts are the way they are and what makes someone an extrovert. It was awesome! Leo, thumbs up!

After running this exercise for the first two dimensions (Where you focus your attention: Extrovert or Introvert and The way you take in information: Sensing or Intuition), Leo had us quickly take the proper Myers Briggs assessment just in time before lunch. 

I was defo looking forward to part 2!

12:30pm - Time to Eat! 

*I love food!*

Lunchtime, once again, came around really quickly, but that didn’t surprise me. What’s that saying “time flies when you’re having fun?!” Cheesy I know, haha! But that’s me. *Thumbs Up with a big grin!*

1:30pm - Different Strokes for Different Testers (Part 2)

*And we’re back!*

After lunch, I enthusiastically made my way back to HQ and we kicked off another round of group analysis (remember the two sides of the room exercise?) on our chosen options but this time for the last two dimensions (How you make decisions: Thinking or Feeling, and How you deal with the world: Judging or Perceiving). 

It’s well worth noting at this point, that we had a few floaters this time round. What are those you ask? Well...what was interesting about the exercise was that some people including myself, felt we had traits of both sides of the spectrum for a few of the dimensions, as it was very difficult to choose one or the other. So you may ask how we came to a decision? During the group analysis, Leo asked the floaters to circulate the room and to see if we could make our decisions based on keywords, habits or behaviours that we could relate to through the conversations and stories of the two groups. For example when it came to trying to figure out whether I was Judging or Perceiving (J or P), Leo posed the question/situation, “You friends birthday is coming up, what do you do?” Now the difference between J and P was that the group that was Judging (J) went really deep into fine details so it was about noticing traits like planning a party or trying to meet the birthday deadline or organisation and delegating. On the other hand the Perceiving (P) traits we more about the spontaneity and going with the flow...not really having a plan. Funnily enough I chose the opposite of what I soon would find out I actually was. 

Exercise C: The Myers Briggs Assessment

Throughout the workshop we spent a good amount of time learning and understanding about the personality types, and if you remember right before lunch, I mentioned that Leo asked us to assess ourselves using the Myers Briggs assessment. So now it was time to reveal our actual results vs what we thought we perceived our personality type to be! 

Mine was bang on! haha! I am ENFJ. That was no surprise to me and it actually made me smile! I like being the servant leader! It makes me happy! Why? Because I love to work with people! :)

Exercise D: Cards on a wall

Remember the cards from Exercise A? Yep, Leo did have a trick up his sleeve! He had prepared sections on the wall that related to each personality type and our job was to take each card shuffle them about, individually pick a handful and place them under the personality type we thought they suited best - note that anyone at any time could challenge your choice and switch the card to a different section, which happened a few time and again initiated a good discussion. It was great to see just how different people like doing different activities within testing and how it can related to their personality! 

I was so buzzed by the end of this session, that I spent a bit more time reading the booklet Leo handed out to the group containing more information about the Myers Briggs assessment. I even started thinking to myself, about how much these traits and behaviours affect teams, collaboration, and decision making and interestingly how I could learn more about this. 

It was a fantastic workshop and definitely well worth spending the day not just learning from Leo, but collaborating with some awesome attendees! 

6:30pm - Time to eat...again!

*Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!*

Once again dinner time came around and after a long workshop it was so nice to tuck into more amazing food! Yum! Seriously who’s the catering company?

7:30pm - Time for a stroll!

*Get the camera ready!*

After dinner I decided that I was completely workshopped out so I decided to head back to my room to freshen up and then take a bit of a stroll around the area. I headed down to the docks, where it was so calm and peaceful, you could almost hear a pin drop! I managed to take some photos (a hobby on the side) and as always instagrammed a few! 

Svinninge Marina                                                                                                       Photography: Christina Ohanian

Svinninge Marina                                                                                                       Photography: Christina Ohanian

During my stroll my mother decided to Facetime me (that nutter walking around talking to her phone, yep that was me!) I have to say technology today amazes me and i love the fact that from another part of the globe I could show her where I was staying and the beautiful island! 

Finally I decided to head back to the main reception and managed to find Dan Ashby and also had the pleasure of meeting Philip Quinn. The three of us had a few beers and as natural agile evangelists did some more retrospecting about the day, through the simple art of pleasant conversation. 

12:00am - Another successful day! 

*I am really tired now.*

After a long day of workshops and talks, I was really tired, so bedtime was a little earlier today! Although one thing to point out and this is probably one of my favorite things about Sweden so far was that it never gets completely dark and there is always a beam of light shining through the clouds! Beautiful!

Conclusion: Another awesome day - watch this space for the 3rd and final entry!