What has new knowledge, new chances, and new options in common? YES! A new week of TMATLC 2020

The third week started and I must admit, the time flies fast. I am always surprised by how much knowledge can be shared just in one week.

Monday, August 3rd

The first day started with the interesting session “Building Better Teams and Testers Through Play” by Jenny Bramble.

Jennifer started the session with this inspiring saying by Vygotsky – “Activity that is desired, involves an Imaginary situation, and always involves rules.”

Below are my notes from this session – 

Why should we start playing? Because to play is to heal.

  •  Play helps those with the most to learn
  • Play creates and reinforces the social bonds we need to operate as a team
  • Play is good for professional development

We find ways to bring play into our lives. Sometimes the random unstructured play- escape rooms, video games, puzzles help us. Play reinforces our social bonds, helps us grow professionally.

Flow Time is Wolf Time backwards. Wolf Time is semi-structured, regular, limited and often one person is in charge of arranging it.

Few examples for your own Wolf Time:

  • Board Games
  • Giant Jênga tower games
  • Make a gingerbread house
  • Cook together
  • Scavenger hunt in the office

Emna Ayadi created this lovely sketch note and kindly let me use it for this report. Have a look at how we build better teams and tests through play in this colourful illustration.

I would summarize my understanding of this session with the below points:

  • Play is team bonding and building activity. 
  • Creatures who need to learn the most, play the most. 
  • Start small and group to bigger games
  • Any play is healthy.

Tuesday, August 4th 

I had the opportunity to attend a second session by Jenny Bramble named “Building Automation Engineers from Scratch”  

The outline for this session was: 

  • You never start from zero, you start with your assumptions
  • Setting expectations
  • Framework for success
  • Face challenges
  • Win

Here are my notes from this session – 

Assumptions – your resources;

You have a group of manual testers or are a manual tester who is interested in moving forward. You have time, resources like some kind of support system, or people willing to help to apply in this adventure. And you are willing to make a plan and execute that plan.

Framework for success;

What do you know? Remember this is a skill built on top of your existing skills, not starting from zero.  Learn to code; don’t learn to automate. You don’t just drop your manual skill set completely to pick up automation, everything you have done in your past is a stepping stone to making automation better. Have the ability to learn, and use tools including asking questions.

Face challenges and make automation invaluable, professional development means change and change leads you to victory.

Albert Einstein once said, “Try not to become a {Human} of success. Rather, become a {human} of value.” 

My key learning from this session are:

  • Find a mentor
  • Pairing between devs and testers helps
  • Dedicate time for reviewing PRs, helping other teams and other tasks
  • Refer example automation projects
  • Use coursework
  • Try games (last session by Jenny)

Shortly after this lively presentation, we continued with “Why is there a Marvel in your Nose?” by Angela Riggs

Angela recommends the following skills to help us during our work with people. 

Let me mention some of them in detail.

Even at work, we can not separate our emotions from ourselves as an individual. People need time and space to get through their emotions. Negative emotions reduce people’s capacity for effective and productive work.

Empathy gives us a better awareness of our role, relationships, and work.

Understanding emotions make us better testers because it allows us to work in a way that meets people’s emotional needs. Empathy makes us better testers to understand the people we are working with and the people we are building for better.

Leading through influence is all about building relationships and trust with people and it makes us better testers when we lead with trust and collaborate.

Communication is a way of transferring ideas, it happens whether or not we intend to happen. Effective communication means adapting your communication style for different audiences. Communication makes us better testers because we have more awareness and control over the ways we share and receive information.

Attention, you get the behaviours that you give attention to.

Angela shared an important rule about feedback. Negative feedback registers more quickly, one small instance of criticism may make a big impact on your team.  One negative feedback will overthrow five positive feedbacks. We need to mind how we are giving feedback as a leader? Keep this rule in mind and think about it the next time before and how you will communicate your feedback. 

Attention to details makes us better testers because it helps us understand the impact of our interactions.

We learn, retain knowledge, and improve the most when we succeed in something that challenges us. Our experiences make us better testers.

Wednesday, August 5th

I was very excited to attend the “Workshop: Why Your Team isn’t Performing” by Kim Adès 

For this session we were given the following agenda:

  1. Why people struggle to perform
  2. Strategies to accelerate performance
  3. Exercise for the bold and courageous

Kim explained four areas of struggle to be isolation, the fiction of communication/relationship, chronic dissatisfaction, and slippage. Based on my experience of working in teams, I can relate to some of these, especially the one about communication. 

In her session, Kim also explained some interesting thinking strategies to improve team performance, such as – 

Thinking strategy One: Challenge their (team) beliefs

What is true of what you believe? Journal it down, what are your fundamental beliefs? Are they true? Under what condition will they change? When behaviours change, all the questions you had before may not be important anymore.

Thinking strategy Two: ResourcefulnessWays of thinking process our behaviour and our behaviour is a reflection of our beliefs.

Thinking strategy Three: Focus on what they (team) really really want. How to find what you really really want? Look at yourself (team), ask yourself, all answers lie in your beliefs. Review answers to living the life you want.

One sentence stuck with me from this session which was- outstanding performance is NOT about skill, it is all about our beliefs.

Thursday, August 6th 

“Embarking into the new World of Al-First: Survival Kit” by Jennifer Bonnie

This session about Artificial Intelligence started with this interesting message; “Where we are going, good enough is death.”

My session notes: 

Foresight = discuss the future, shape the future and imagine the future

Three things to keep in mind –

  1. Put your customer first
  2. Don’t forget about employee engagement – turn them into “Innovations Agents”
  3. Transformation effort should bridge the old new

Three gatekeepers for the words of the tongue to ask yourself before you address any message to someone else. Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? 

The following eight job skills, according to Jennifer, will lead to success in a post-Covid19 World.

  1. Leadership
  2. Tech Savvy
  3. Creativity and innovation
  4. Data literacy
  5. Critical thinking
  6. Digital Marketing and Coding skill
  7. Emotional Intelligence
  8. Lifetime learning

Lessons we learned today, don’t be afraid to build stuff you might throw away, keep your skills current and luck favours the present.

Friday, August 7th 

This week ended with a session named-  “What needs to change to be your best?” hosted by Amy Jo Esser And it was worth the wait and staying up late to be a part of it. (Yes, I attended it at 3 AM my time)

“Being the best version of you” changes your habits and it will change your life.

Some rules that Amy mentioned:

Rule One.

Make it a must. A Necessity.  A non-negotiable. Create and write down a big why. It’s critical you master this skill/habit

Rule Two.

“Eat that Frog” first Brian Tracy has said, that your “frog” should be the most difficult task on your things-to-do list. The one you are most likely to procrastinate on.

Rule three.

Start tiny and atomic. Tiny habits and atomic habits. To change your habits and so your life seriously, Amy Jo shared ten simple hacks to follow how to change a habit/skill for the future.

What needs to change to be your best?

  1. Answer the best leader questions.
  • What does being the best leader look like for me?
  • What skills do I need to master to be the best leader I can be?
  • What do planning, preparing, and practising look like for me?

2. Select a challenging leadership skill you want to improve or master.

  • Write down what skill you want to improve, break down the skill, write down ideas of the different areas that you may have to learn and practice in order to master this skill.

3. Manage your mindset – determine if you have any limiting beliefs around this skill that could hold you back.

  1. Plan when you will practice your skill.
  2. Create and write down why you must practice this skill.
  3. Practice this skill daily.
  4. Create and print out some version of a 66-day calendar to put a victory check on each day after your practice. Don’t break the chain!
  5. Be aware and fight “The Resistance” that will show up.
  6. Make a commitment and contract with yourself. Honour is like a commitment you would make to someone else.
  7. Print off and sign the contract. Review every single day.

Change for better NOW, there is no better time coming. Below you find a contract you can sign right now and start working towards your change. Let us know on Twitter @TestMatserAcad, @ajesser and @astridwinkler4 with the hashtag #tmatlcs2020

What are you going to change next? 

I would always remember these great words by Amy, “Every struggle is one step closer to greatness.”

We had a great week together and another one is already waiting. This awesome week full of leadership knowledge, testing wisdom, and personal growth hacks was a great push forward. 

If I may, I would like to dedicate this week to late Kobe Bryant who said,  “There’s a choice that we have to make as people, as individuals. If you want to be great at something, there’s a choice you have to make. We all can be masters at our craft, but you have to make a choice. There are sacrifices that come along with making that decision. 

Thank you for your precious time to read my summary of the third week of Test Leadership Congress 2020. I am already excited about the next week and hope you will join me again. 

See you next week. 


Astrid WinklerAstrid Winkler is a budding freelance journalist and content writer from 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