Drenching in the rain of leadership – TMATLC 2020 saga continues

This my third write up on my experience with Test Leadership Congress 2020. If you missed the previous two, then I recommend you to please read those here and here

Tuesday, July 28th

Sessions on Monday kept me thinking about ideas shared, indeed. It kept me wondering about the beautiful word of software testing that appears to me. And I must admit how interesting I am finding all the talks, especially on leadership. Being a Project Manager myself I feel I can closely relate to most of the things discussed. 

With that in mind, I was looking forward to another great day and the day gave me nothing to complain about. 

Vojin Popovic opened the day with his session “Improving Communication and Teamwork Using Perceiver Element Grid (PEG)”.

Here are my session notes if that interests you: 

Perceiver Element Grid (PEG) is a particular type of qualitative grid useful in work with teams, families, and individual work. 

Usually, when we communicate on a project, we assume that our team members have the same understanding of the team values as we do. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The PEG allows us to come up with a common understanding of team values and roles within the team using a simple grid. A stable, valued team is so important especially during this critical Times we are facing right now, it becomes even more important that we have a team we can trust. 

How to use PEG with your team:

  • An initial explanation is given to the team, including the idea that everyone has their unique view on life, themselves, their situation, and each other.
  • This includes that everyone there is a set of “constructs” that we can view as calls to action.
  • Each team member is given a sheet of paper on which they can write their private thoughts. They will be able to select aspects of these that they are happy to share, but the sheet is for their eyes only.
  • The task is to imagine the team in six months or a year“ time, after which some useful work has been done and the team, though not ideal, is functioning well enough for work to be done and the atmosphere is pleasant for all.
  • Think of the team working together at this time. In this situation, how would you like to be able to see yourself? Write down three ideas, or two or just one. More if you like. 
  • Now write the names of the others down and put how you would like to be able to see them. Put three ideas down about them. Positive ideas are better, avoid using “not” or “less”
  • The facilitator helps the members with this, clarifying the task, helping them to imagine an actual situation under the improved conditions, and finding suitable words or phrases for them.
  • When the team is ready, the facilitator asks them to choose their best idea, or most representative idea, that is alright to share with the group. Enter these into the diagonal cells for each member, having drawn up a blank PEG with the correct number of rows and columns to correspond to each other.
  • These are labeled in the same order from the top left-hand corner along the rows down the columns, people as perceivers on the left, and as elements along on the top.
  • If this has been achieved satisfactory enough, one can move on to filling in the other cells of the PEG, being aware to work sensitively around in the other difficult points of tension, and ensuring a good spread of contributions from different members.

To me, this session was a great inspiration and I hope this will reach so many others out there who can use it as a help to build a team. It made me remember the quote Dawid shared in his presentation from Richard Brandson i.e. “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” If we value our team – they value our business.

The following session “Risk or Fear: What Drives Your Testing?” was delivered by Jenna Charlton and I found it interesting. 

Jenna explained her ideas with such great examples that a newbie like me also could understand how essential software testing is and why it needs to be valued.

Some highlights from Jenna’s talk –

“Airplanes have visible and invisible risks. The service cart stops rolling, and the crew can work around by carrying the drinks on a tray. We need to hold each perceived risk up to scrutiny and confirm the amount of impact and risk – focus testing here.”

Having the risk score go up isn’t necessarily bad – it can mean you learned more about the risks. Done is the goal to revisit risks as you go at appropriate intervals.

Some things to remember – 

  • Discernment: Test decisions, what is your real motivator?
  • Embracing the concept, “What is good enough quality?”
  • Reassessing risk by integrating new data
  • How to overcome bias created by fear and previous failures

I was not able to attend the last two sessions since it’s too late in the evening for me, but still, I would like to mention a few highlights of each session in this report. I am sure both the sessions were great and interactive. 

“Building Automation Engineers from Scratch” by Jenny Bramble

This talk was about building automation engineers. Creating automation engineers from manual testers is hard. Even if testers are willing, they have a lot of hurdles to get over to feel like the same kind of subject matter experts in automation as they are in manual testing.

In this talk, Jenny covered – 

  • The basic framework your manual testers need to be successful, including how to determine where the gaps in knowledge are and filling them.
  • Advice on managing the expectations of your testers and management from time constraints to what success looks like.
  • Several teaching methods are framed around a case study of a team that built itself up from the inside out and is running a successful automation suite.
  • Facing and overcoming other challenges such as ability and perceived ability, resources, time, tooling, and how to get your team excited for a new chapter in their professional development.

Another interesting session as it seemed from the abstract was – “Embarking into the New World of Al-First Survival Skills” by Jennifer Bonine

I found it particularly interesting for the Fuzzy-techie combo Jenni mentioned. I guess I would certainly watch the recordings of the talks I could not attend. There is so much to learn and get excited for. Love TLC and I must thank Anna for involving me in this project. 

 “Know what your narrative is. What your life experience is. The result is our reality and sometimes we distort reality.

Oh by the way, during the day again  Lean Coffee sessions happened which invited all the different members of this conference for interactive participation. Even though I was not able to be there I am sure it was a great experience to meet each other from across the world from the comfort of your home.

That’s it for the day. See you tomorrow.


Astrid WinklerAstrid Winkler is a budding freelance journalist and content writer from beautiful Switzerland.  Creativity is her passion and writing is her lost-and-found love which she is willing to develop with more care. 

Connect with Astrid on Linkedin or follow her on twitter @AstridWinkler4