Interview with Janet Gregory & Lisa Crispin

Welcome to fourth interviews from “Quality Talks with TLC Speakers” series. This time we have Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory with us. And I am sure you will enjoy this interview as much as I did. 

What made you choose “A whole Team approach to testing in continuous delivery” for your tutorial in TLC? What can participants expect to learn from your tutorial? 

Lisa:

“When agile development gained popularity, teams wondered how testing could possibly “keep up” with deployments to production every week or two. The teams we were on found that the whole team had to take responsibility for quality and testing to succeed with frequent delivery of new changes. As teams today move towards continuous delivery, deploying small changes daily or multiple times per day, building quality in and completing necessary testing activities are even more of a challenge. We need not only the whole delivery team, but people who up to now may have still been siloed – operations specialists, software reliability engineers, and more. In our tutorial, we’ll introduce ways the team can shorten feedback loops, improve their test automation coverage, and fit in the necessary “human-centric” (or manual) testing activities while continually creating production-ready deployment artefacts.”

Janet:

“I completely agree with Lisa’s answer.”

How different do you think the remote format of tutorials would be compared to in-person format? How do you plan to keep it as effective as it would be otherwise?

Lisa:

“Janet and I already had experience adapting our three days live “Agile Testing for the Whole Team” course into a remotely-facilitated course over five days. We’ve had positive feedback from our trainers that the hands-on small group exercises in Zoom breakout rooms work well. This tutorial is mostly hands-on exercises and small group discussions, and we’ve adapted all of our exercises from the “live” tutorial to work online. We’ve had to reduce the content since it takes longer to do these activities remotely. We will provide additional downloadable material that participants can try out with their teams.”

Janet:

“Well said, I can’t add anything else.”

How would you explain your job as a tester to someone who is not familiar with the field?

Lisa: 

“Janet and I have collaborated with others in our software community to put together our “definition” of an agile tester: https://agiletester.ca/ever-evolving-never-set-stone-definition-agile-testing/ We explain how our 10 Principles for agile testers relate to the Modern Testing Principles, also: https://agiletester.ca/our-take-on-the-principles-for-the-modern-agile-tester/ “

Janet: 

“I usually take something that is close by and asks them what they think about it, and what they would have changed if they were building it. I explain our job as a tester is like that, but to think of those things before it is finished. Sometimes to consider concerns before it is even started. I get them to start thinking about what questions they would ask.”

What’s the biggest mistake you see leaders making and what would be your advice to rectify it? 

Lisa:

“If by leaders you mean company executives, my experience is that most do not understand why quality matters and why a big investment in enabling teams to build quality is worthwhile. They think testing is an add-on, they don’t understand it is an integral part of development, along with coding and operations. One of our motivations to write our new Agile Testing Condensed book was to provide a brief introduction to agile testing that managers and execs might be willing to read. I also recommend Leading Quality by Ronald Cummings-John and Owais Peer to help educate executives.”

Janet:

“The only thing I might add is that I would like to see more leaders listen to the people. Ask them their opinion and then listen to the answers.”

What’s the most rewarding part about leading people?

Lisa:

“I try to lead by example. If I’ve learned some new techniques or practices that I think might help my team overcome a big problem, I suggest trying it as an experiment for a short period of time. We create a hypothesis with some way we can measure progress. It might not work, and that’s ok, we learned something. I like to act as a testing consultant to help everyone learn good ways of testing, of building a shared understanding about the features we want to build, of shortening feedback loops, of creating more testable and operable code.”

Janet:

“I really don’t think of myself as a leader. I try to lead by example – being kind in what I say and do although I’m not always successful. If people like what I have to say, they will listen and draw their own conclusions. I think the most rewarding conversations I have with people are when I hear things like “I get what you’re saying. Have you thought about it this way?” or “I tried what you suggested and it worked really well when I tweaked it this way.” Reward – when people take what you give and advance the learning.”

By the way, I read this article the other day – https://hbr.org/2020/04/7-leadership-lessons-men-can-learn-from-women. Do you think women bring something unique in the field of leadership? If yes, what is it? 

Lisa:

“Generally, I do think women have a different leadership style than most men. As that article says, we seem to have more empathy and humility. I’ve learned a lot about influencing and being a change agent from people like Linda Rising. We humans are complex and not really influenced by logic and facts – which is where we testers tend to want to go! More Fearless Change by Linda Rising and Mary Lynn Manns has been a big help to me. I feel sad that there still are so few women in line executive positions in companies. I had hoped the change would happen faster.”

Janet: 

“I think that article brings up some interesting ideas. Change is hard and the Lean-In movement showed how difficult it is to be someone you are not. I believe the best way to succeed is not to make people something they are not, but instead, embrace diversity and each person brings something unique. As a woman, I recognize that I work differently than most men. Let’s use our differences to everyone’s advantage.”

What would be the one thing you would like to change in the testing profession of the present day?

Lisa:

I’d like for testing to be seen as it should – equally (if not more) valuable than coding, an integral part of software product development, which happens throughout that continuous DevOps loop. 

Janet:

“As Lisa said, recognize that testing is a skill that should be valued as part of the development cycle. I would add that we should recognize the differences between teams, products, and ways of testing and be happy that there is such a diverse group of skills in our community. Sharing those skills is what will keep testing alive and well.”

Would you like to share anything else with the TMA community?

Lisa:

“I love this community, people are so engaged, helping each other, learning together. I feel lucky to be part of it.”

Janet:

“This will be my first involvement with the TMA community and I’m looking forward to our tutorial in September.”

Thank you, Lisa and Janet, for the interesting conversation. I am looking forward to attending your tutorial. 

Dear readers, if this interview inspires you and makes you curious about the tutorial that Lisa and Janet are offering with TLC then don’t miss this chance and sign up for it soon. Below are the details:

 

 

About the Interviewees:

Janet Gregory

Janet Gregory is an agile testing and process consultant with DragonFire Inc. She is the co-author with Lisa Crispin of Agile Testing Condensed: A Brief Introduction (LeanPub 2019), More Agile Testing: Learning Journeys for the Whole Team (Addison-Wesley 2014), and Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams (Addison-Wesley, 2009), the LiveLessons Agile Testing Essentials video course, and “Agile Testing for the Whole Team” 3-day training course.

Janet specializes in showing agile teams on how testing activities are necessary to develop good quality products. She works with teams to transition to agile development and teaches agile testing courses worldwide. She contributes articles to publications and enjoys sharing her experiences at conferences and user group meetings around the world. For more about Janet’s work and her blog, visit https://janetgregory.ca or https://agiletester.ca You can also follow her on twitter @janetgregoryca or LinkedIn

Together with Lisa Crispin, she has founded the Agile Testing Fellowship to grow a community of practitioners who care about quality. Check out https://agiletestingfellow.com to find out more about courses and membership.

Lisa Crispin

Lisa Crispin is the co-author, with Janet Gregory, of More Agile Testing: Learning Journeys for the Whole Team (2014), Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams (2009), the LiveLessons “Agile Testing Essentials” video course, and “The Whole Team Approach to Agile Testing” 3-day training course. Lisa was voted by her peers as the Most Influential Agile Testing Professional Person in 2012. Please visit www.lisacrispin.com, www.agiletestingfellow.com and www.agiletester.ca for more.

About the Host:

Astrid Winkler

Astrid 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