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Interview with Simon Prior

Welcome to one more interview from “Quality Talks with TLC Speakers” series. This time we have Simon Prior with us. And I am sure you will enjoy this interview as much as I did. 

What made you choose “Growing a Culture of Quality” for your session in TLC?

“Over the last few years I have worked in organisations where Testing and Quality have not been valued as highly as they should have been, this has to lead me to try to transform the mindset so that Quality is built in from the start in product development. The story of this talk is walking through my experiences where I’ve had successes in moving the teams forward in starting to understand that testing is more than an activity left to the end of a project. I felt it was important to try and spread the awareness of what can be achieved if others have felt like testers aren’t being appreciated for what they could really bring to an organisation. I also felt TLC would be a great platform to start spreading the word on the importance of growing the culture as it provided an international audience who could all take ideas back to help their organisations.”

How different do you think was the remote format of sessions compared to in-person format? And what do you believe will change in future?

“I think Anna and team did a fantastic job in making this virtual format feel inclusive. With this and TestBash Home this year, they have proven that the barriers we all felt previously with virtual conferences not being engaging are no longer valid. I believe more conferences will go forward with a virtual element in the future, I imagine that means there will be a plethora of virtual conferences as the overhead of running a conference will be less. This has to be a good thing with more platforms for people to share ideas and move the industry forward.

Of course, as a speaker, not having an audience to feed off, made it tougher to present. But the other breakout sessions and communication mechanisms really helped with the overall experience.”
What’s the biggest mistake you see leaders making and what would be your advice to rectify it? 

“In my experience, the biggest mistake I see leaders making is all around their teams and not giving individuals the time they need (especially in the current working environment), I definitely feel there needs to be more focus on nurturing and building our teams. Learning to adapt our styles as leaders to mean we are accessible to all team members, who may all need us in a different way. Some will need the metaphorical arm around them to encourage, others will need straight-talking. We as leaders need to lean towards the servant leadership style more with our teams. If you have happy people, the work will get done more effectively. Even just simple things like checking in regularly and taking courses for yourselves like the Mental Health First Aider courses will give leaders insights and tips on how to be there for your teams when they need it. Of course, our roles to be strategic leaders first will be more effective too if we have highly collaborative/passionate/energised teams to bounce ideas off and get them buying into your vision and helping to push the ideas forward.”

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

“I would talk about it in terms of a simple analogy of looking at an aircraft or other safety-critical system. Would you be happy to board a plane if you thought no checks or tests to prove its working, had taken place? Would you be prepared to have a vaccine if it hadn’t been tested? I try to then take this back to software and explain that testing is not just about running tests to prove it’s working, but also to discover and communicate as much information as possible about how the system works and ensuring that it works in the way the user needs it to.”

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

“I’m going to be cheeky and say two as I can’t narrow it down to one.

Let’s try and be more pragmatic in our approach to automation. We don’t need to automate all the testing. There is just as much value in good quality investigative/exploratory testing alongside automation. A holistic approach to testing is needed.

I urge everyone to help push local colleges and universities to include testing/quality engineering fundamentals as part of their software engineering/computer science courses. Find opportunities to speak to students about testing and help plug the gap we have in finding new young talent into our industry. Check out #MakeATester on twitter to discuss this further.”

 Do you want to share anything else with the TMA community?

“Please take a listen to the podcast series I am hosting alongside 3 other awesome Test Leaders. Search for “Testing Peers” wherever you listen to podcasts or check out https://testingpeers.com. We’d love to get your feedback on how we can improve in sharing ideas around testing and leadership.”

Thank you Simon for this interesting conversation and being a part for my TLC interview series.

About the Interviewees:

Simon Prior

EasyJet, Test Manager

Simon is heading up the Core QA team at EasyJet. In his career he has worked in various roles across IT from C++ developer, Scrum Master, Build Engineer before finally finding his passion in Testing. He’s worked in various domains from CyberSecurity, Gaming/Gambling and now the Airline industry.
He has a keen interest in finding ways to improve the testing process and ensuring products are released with the highest possible quality. He also loves coaching/mentoring his team to be the best they can, enabling them to use all possible tools and skills to get their job done to the best of their ability

Simon is a well-known speaker and meetup organiser in the Software Testing world and also a keen advocate for companies to consider Neurodiversity as part of their inclusion programmes.

Simon has also just launched a podcast with 3 other Test Leaders called ‘Testing Peers’, more found at http://testingpeers.com.

 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

Interview with Dana Pylayeva

Welcome to another interview from “Quality Talks with TLC Speakers” series. This time we have Dana Pylayeva with us. And I am sure you will enjoy this interview as much as I did. 

What made you choose “Seven Rules of Virtual Engagement” for your tutorial in TLC? What can participants expect to learn from your tutorial? 

“This year we were all forced to become virtual, while many of us were totally unprepared. I was fortunate to accumulate years of experience in facilitating, training and coaching distributed teams across the globe. The workshop I am bringing to TMA community is a powerful synergy of tried and true practices from my own experience, ideas from Training from the Back of the Room (by Sharon Bowman), as well as facilitation methods from Liberating Structures (by Keith McCandless and Henry Lipmanowicz). 

In this workshop, I will share seven key rules I found useful over these years. Some of them you may find controversial, others will sound really simple. Together they’ve been making a difference for my workshops participants, shifting the energy from dull to exuberant, creating safe and collaborative space. Participants can expect to learn by doing, engaging, connecting and collaborating with others in the virtual room. Best of all – they can expect to pick up simple and versatile tools to change the way they facilitate collaboration with their own teams.”

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?

“This tutorial was designed to be virtual. We take advantage of the digital tools and space, instead of fighting against it. With Zoom Breakout rooms, creative use of chat, poll and annotation, everyone in our virtual room will find themselves engaged and contributing. I mentioned Liberating Structures. If you haven’t experienced them in a virtual space before, you are up for a big surprise! Give it a try and you will find that they make virtual collaboration rock!”

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

“Expecting to be the one providing all the answers. Leaders of the past were expected to have all the answers, direct every step of their subordinate, give out orders. Today we are dealing with unpresidential complexity, within which no single person can have all the answers. If you still have (or know someone with) Frederick Taylor’s mindset, my advice would be to pick up David Marquet’s “Turn the ship around” and consider experimenting with Intent-based leadership.”

What’s the most rewarding part about leading people?

“The most rewarding part about leading people is in enabling their transformation from a group of individuals to a truly high-performing team, driven by the common purpose, open to experimentations, learning together and figuring out the path forward.”

Do you want to share anything else with the TMA community?

“It’s been an honour to contribute to TMA community in the face-to-face format in the past. I am excited to support the community again, now in the new virtual format and appreciate the tremendous effort on the part of organisers to make this conference a reality. Great work, Test Masters Academy!”

Thank you Dana 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 Dana is offering with TLC then don’t miss this chance and sign up for it soon. Below are the details:

About the Interviewees:

 Dana Pylayeva

Agile Coach and Founder at Agile Play Consulting, LLCUSA

In her 16 years of industry experience, Dana has been exposed to different areas of IT as a Java Developer, an Architect, a DBA Manager, a Scrum Master and an Agile Coach. Every role she has had in her career has given her an opportunity to apply her passion for agile principles and practices and to help others recognize the benefits of Agile. Dana holds MS in Robotics and Mechatronics from Moscow State University of Technology “STANKIN” as well as CSM, SCPO and CSP certifications from Scrum Alliance. An active member of the global agile community, she has been volunteering at Agile Alliance conferences for the past 10 years. A member of the “Women in Agile” group and NYC Scrum User group, she leads the “Big Apple Scrum Day 2016” conference organizing initiative. Dana enjoys speaking, facilitating workshops and training groups from 10 to 120 people. She speaks internationally on topics ranging from DevOps to User Story Mapping, improving the effectiveness of distributed teams with retrospectives and agile games. She finds inspiration from reading, practising yoga, hiking, travelling and spending time with her family.

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

 

Interview with Kirk Walton

Welcome to my interview from “Quality Talks with TLC Speakers” series. This time we have Kirk Walton with us. And I am sure you will enjoy this interview as much as I did. 

What made you choose “How to Create High-Performing Tech Teams in Today`s Market” for your tutorial in TLC? What can participants expect to learn from your tutorial? 

“For the past 7-8 years, the market for top technology talent exploded.  With so many organizations in high-growth mode, it became a candidate’s market with so many opportunities to choose from.

Many organizations have had to shift from a mindset of making sure prospective candidates “checked all the boxes” to becoming much more flexible and creative when it comes to building teams. 

At tapQA, we’ve always been proud of building our teams with incredibly talented individuals that had the hunger, energy, passion and aptitude to become great consultants – even if they didn’t have the experience one might otherwise look for.  This has allowed us to build some awesome teams at tapQA.  I wanted to share some of the ideas we have when looking for “the right fit” for our organization as the more people we can bring into the technology industry, the better the industry will be as a whole.

This talk will also help employers to better position themselves as “a perfect fit” for the right types of candidates to bring into their organization.

Even in today’s unpredictable market, candidates still have a wealth of opportunities – so these same principles apply.”

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?

” We’ll be doing some hands-on exercises as a group like we would in a live setting.  With Zoom being such a great tool, it makes it easy to collaborate as if we were in-person.  I believe this collaboration will be just like we were all sitting in a room together.  I’ll have download links for attendees to download forms before the sessions begin.”

How is leading tech teams different from leading non-tech teams?

“There’s no “one size fits all” answer for this, but it goes back to a pretty simple concept (that applies to all teams) – know what makes the members of your team tick.  Everyone has particular hot buttons – as a leader, it’s important to know what is important for your team members, and try to do what you can to meet those hot buttons as an organization. 

Members of tech teams often have hot buttons such as learning new skills, staying on top of technical trends, career growth and advancement and taking on new responsibilities.  It’s important for a leader of tech teams to stay current with technology trends that may be of interest to their team members.”

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

“Building teams solely based on one’s experience vs really focusing on “the right fit” for the organization. One thing I talk about in my sessions is to focus more on a person’s motivations, aptitude, and passion for learning and growth vs focusing on the experience one has so far.  There are definitely roles that require a significant amount of experience, but in many cases when you say you need someone with “x years of experience” and rule out people that don’t have the number of years you ask for, you’re potentially ruling out people that could make a huge impact on your organization. 

When leaders hire solely based on experience and on a candidate’s resume, they often ignore soft skills and motivations that might make the individual a really poor fit for their specific organization.  We are firm believers that “many hard skills can be taught, but soft skills cannot.”

What’s the most rewarding part about leading people?

“Seeing the impact that “the right fit” has in people’s lives is one of the biggest reasons I do what I do.  We spend so much of our waking hours at work – and when someone finds the right company and right role, it has such a huge impact in all aspects of their life.  Conversely, when someone really enjoys their work, that positive energy has a huge impact on the others around them.  That’s a big factor in helping great organizations grow.  We’ve definitely seen it here at tapQA.  To be a driving factor in that is the thing that gets me excited about my job each and every day.”

Do you want to share anything else with the TMA community?

” With the current state of affairs in our industry, building the right team for you has never been more important!  I love talking about this – please feel free to connect with me as I’d love to help!” 

Thank you Kirk 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 Kirk is offering with TLC then don’t miss this chance and sign up for it soon. Below are the details:

About the Interviewees:

Kirk Walton

Kirk Walton is Vice President at tpQA and has 20 years’ experience in the IT Services industry (starting as a Lotus Notes consultant in 1999!) He has over 15 years’ experience in recruiting and has successfully recruited and hired well over 500 IT professionals during that time.

Kirk is incredibly passionate about building teams and helping organizations and individuals find \\”the perfect fit\\” with one another.

He established the recruiting practice at tap|QA, a national consulting firm exclusively focused on QA, Test Automation and DevOps. Kirk has a highly successful track record of building strategies to attract, build and retain high-performing teams.

Kirk LOVES talking about the IT industry and team-building, with a focus on culture, \\”fit\\” and fun!

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

 

Interview with Bob Schatz

Welcome to the eight interview from “Quality Talks with TLC Speakers” series. This time we have Dr Bob Schatz with us. And I am sure you will enjoy this interview as much as I did. 

What made you choose “Faces of Courage in Agile Transformation” for your tutorial in TLC? What can participants expect to learn from your tutorial? 

“Last year I completed my Doctoral degree and this was my field of study. My dissertation was a study of people that have led to radical transformational change in organizations. I looked at what factors triggered these people to take the risks that come with leading change as well as the organization’s response. It revealed what commitment looked like from the change agent perspective and some ugly responses from others in the organization. I’ve had many of these experiences myself, but it was enlightening to study it in the broader perspective and gain an understanding so I can help organizations and change agents recognize and cope with the dynamics of change.

Participants in this tutorial will gain a better understanding of the dynamics involved in transformational change. If they are a change agent, it will help them understand what they will experience both within themselves as well as the reaction from others. If they are a participant in an organization going through change, they will gain an understanding of what forces are at play in the pursuit of change and how they might become a better support system for the overall benefit for the organization. The goal is to raise awareness that change is not an edict from management to be compliant with, but a complex system which involves the interaction of all participants.”

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?

“Fortunately, I have had to pivot my training and consulting practice to a fully virtual online experience. I have taught courses and coached organizations in-person for nearly 15 years. For the past 7 months, I have run more than 35 engaging, collaborative, 2-day classes using Zoom, Powerpoint, Notability, and Mural. At first, it was a little uncomfortable learning to effectively connect via video, but with practice and adjustments, I have realized more benefits than drawbacks.”

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

“I’m not currently a tester, but I have been in the past during my career, and I have led organizations involving test professionals.  I think the best way is to describe it as making sure that a system performs and operates in a manner that meets or exceeds the expectations of users and consumers, by making sure the processes, procedures, and people involved in developing the product have their focus on quality.”

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

“The biggest mistake leaders make is not seeing the best in people in their organization. Assuming people are not “motivated” or not putting in enough effort. When leadership fails to take complete responsibility for creating an environment where excellent work can be achieved, and then tries to place that responsibility on their people, it makes for an oppressive work environment. If you show compassion, empathy, and support for your people, and give them a sense of purpose in meaning in their work, they will accomplish amazing feats.”

What’s the most rewarding part about leading people?

“The most rewarding part for me is seeing people that I’ve led and influenced achieve their own goals. From my early days at General Electric, I was taught the power of pulling people up instead of keeping them under you. The only way to get promoted there was to train your replacement. Seeing people follow their dream and experience their journey motivates me to keep doing what I do.”

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

“I strive to get organizations to see testing as an integral part of developing a product. In the past, testing was more of a gatekeeper, trying to find defects before a system went out the door. Testers were rewarded and punished based on how many defects they could find. I never understood that logic…I was looking at why we were producing so many defects. With agile teams, testers are needed on the team. Cross-functional teams swarm on solving problems. However, many organizational leaders, mainly QA leaders, try to protect turf and hold on to power, preventing this from happening. There are many reasons why they might do this, but it needs to change. We have to ask ourselves, What is in the best interest of the customer? How can we organize to serve them in the best possible way?”

Do you want to share anything else with the TMA community?

“I just want to say Thank You! Thank you for all you do. The passion, commitment, and professionalism has been and continues to be impressive. Having people with different perspectives exercising systems helped billions of people around the world. We have a lot of work to do to move this industry to new levels and everyone will need to bring their best to work every day.”

Thank you, Bob, 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 Bob is offering with TLC then don’t miss this chance and sign up for it soon. Below are the details:

About the Interviewees:

Bob Schatz


Dr Bob Schatz has over 35 years of experience in the IT industry-leading software, systems, and organizational development. In July 2006 Bob Schatz started Agile Infusion LLC to provide advice, consulting, and training to companies around the world using agile development techniques such as Scrum and XP. Bob served as VP of Development for Primavera Systems, Inc. where he was responsible for leading the highly successful adoption of agile development techniques starting in 2002 for the team that develops Primavera’s software solutions for Enterprise Project, Resource, and Portfolio Management. Before joining Primavera, Bob spent seven years as a founder at Liquent, Inc., managing the development of publishing software targeted for the pharmaceutical market and global regulatory agencies, and 12 years at GE Aerospace/Lockheed Martin, where he held various management positions for large-scale development, deployment, and operations projects for US government agencies and the Department of Defense. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Temple University, a Masters’ degree in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Doctorate of Management in Strategic Leadership Degree at Thomas Jefferson University.

Bob is a leader in successfully implementing agile development techniques, such as Scrum and XP, and driving culture changes in organizations. He and his team have been featured in several industry articles. Bob often speaks at industry events talking about the benefits and challenges of bringing agile techniques into an organization.

Bob’s clients include Apple, NASA, SAP, HP, CapitalOne, Cisco, Symantec, Disney, Minitab, IBEW, Comcast, Motorola, H&R Block, Thomson-Reuters (Dow Jones, Liquent), Dish, US Government Accountability Office, Dept. of Defense, Dept of Homeland Security, The Hartford, Liberty Mutual, Intuit, ICON Clinical Research, Jewelry Television, Scripps Networks (Food; Travel; HGTV; etc), Turner Broadcasting, Laika Entertainment, Line 6, Vantage, Achieve3000, Sears Holdings, Accenture, CapitalOne, NY Court System, IBEW, Command Alkon, Office of POTUS

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

 

Interview with Anders Dinsen & Ole S. Rasmussen

Welcome to the next interview from “Quality Talks with TLC Speakers” series. This time we have Anders Dinsen & Ole S. Rasmussen with us. And I am sure you will enjoy this interview as much as I did. 

What made you choose “Personal Leadership Development for Quality Professionals” for your tutorial in TLC? What can participants expect to learn from your tutorial? 

Anders: 

“We have given this tutorial before at TLC and ConTEST with good success and we are looking forward to offering it in a remote edition. Leaders are to a high degree judged in their workplace by their personality. While management used to be about giving instructions to individuals, modern leadership is more centred about a theme of bringing the best out of your team. This applies generally for expert work: As a leader, your job is no longer to know everything but to help your team collaborate and create. Participants will learn about their personal values and motivations, and learn and try to use them actively.”

Ole:

“It is our belief (both from personal experiences and scientifically proven knowledge) that the personal and social competencies of the manager are as important as the hardcore ability to decipher codes and numbers. 

We find that among managers in testing and development, these qualities are not as focused as they could  – and maybe need to be, in order to drive the best possible quality.”


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?

Anders:

“Ole and I very much enjoy facilitating and working with social interactions in our workshops. Limiting contact to video and sound will change the experience somewhat, of course. However, this is not an uncommon situation for us: We’re both experienced with remote training. We will make sure our instructions are very clear, and that the presentations are kept short and to the point. Every individual present in the workshop will be involved in the break-out sessions. We will facilitate to ensure people get to share their reflections.”

Ole:

“There is no doubt that there is a difference. I have a fairly good experience teaching online. In my opinion, a digital format is a supplementary form to the physical meeting. Used in the best way, both can lift the other to a higher level of effectiveness, but as for now, this is not possible. Right now we have to lean on the digital tools. The next-best way then is to, not just copy what you do in the physical meeting, into a digital platform. If you do so, you are prone to fail in the aspect of making the tutorial engaging to the participant…they will become mere spectators or viewers, not participants.

Our tutorial/workshop is highly dependent on people meeting each other in an open dialogue. This is best achieved in a small group in a physical room…we will have to try to resemble that in our digitally-driven tutorial.

We will try to create small-group discussions and while we speak, we will use the chat-function to help engage AND control the debate during the tutorials – and when Anders speaks, I will keep an eye on the chat and visa versa, when I speak.”


How is leading tech teams different from leading non-tech teams?

Anders:

“Good question! I think tech teams consist of independently working professionals. Social interaction can feel a bit more awkward or out of place for some doing their work. I think leaders have to take that into account and adjust both leadership style and planned activities accordingly. Also, tech teams don’t require instructions. Sometimes they need help prioritizing and planning, but don’t tell them how to carry out their jobs. All teams are different, but I think those are the most common general differences.”

Ole:

“I find that Tech-team members (in large) are more introverted and they are naturally more focused on the specific tech parts or elements, than other teams – who, on the other hand, lack the understanding of the tech part. I also find more diversity as to introverts and extroverts in the non-tech communities…ups maybe I punched a hornets’ nest there =;0)

This gives that the manager has to consider very different approaches to your mentioned two kinds of teams, but even though she has to consider the different approaches, it is still, very much the same “buttons” she has to push in order to make the teams perform better/raise the level of quality – It is, for example, her own approach, appearance, social skills and psychological understanding of which underlying needs that drives the team, that she has to consider – and that is universal to all teams…and no; it is not the money =;0)

Another thing I find is, that the tech-teams tend to want their manager to be the best tech-guy of all – the leader-thing comes next….but if you want a manager that can drive the best quality, you need a full-blown leader…and that takes time and room. That room has to come not only from the upper management but also from the team members.

This is clearly a very rough view, I know, but it’s the short answer to the question about the differences.”


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

Anders:

“That’s hard to answer without having tried being in people’s shoes! But let me try anyway: I think the biggest problem in leadership today is that many people are a bit afraid or anxious about being their authentic selves as a leader. Putting on a suit or a pair of heels bossing people around can make you feel safe as a manager, but that’s not leadership! Leadership requires a good sense of people, context, and atmosphere. You have to be part of the team and lead the team from within: Not from above. We all make mistakes, of course, which is why inviting and appreciating feedback is also important. Ignoring opportunities for feedback is a big mistake.”

Ole:

“The biggest mistake I see is managers forgetting to lead. Managers who allow others and themselves to bury them in the everyday operations and thus not being strategic, explorative and developmental in their approach.

To rectify this I would recommend looking at their personal leadership development – which is what we try to show a bit of in our tutorial/workshops.”

What’s the most rewarding part about leading people?

Anders:

“For me, it’s seeing people learn and grow as individuals and professionals. Having opportunities to share their successes is also wonderful.”

Ole:

“To me personally it has always been seeing my employees succeed, not just as in getting the job done right, but more as seeing them finding that they matter on a higher level than just fixing whatever it is they have to fix. It may sound a bit solemn, but to see them excel as humans, that makes my day perfect. It is not as much about doing it right, as doing the right thing…and that is what only self-driven, curious and safe feeling employees do….and as an unintended side effect, the customers love them for it!”


Do you want to share anything else with the TMA community?

Anders:

“I was saddened when TMA couldn’t host the Test Leadership Congress due to COVID-19. It’s such a wonderful community and event and I can’t wait to return to New York for TLC, hopefully in 2021. But I’m excited about the way the community has continued to support TMA and TLC this year. A conference is not just people talking. It’s everyone present conferring. It’s great to see the enthusiasm of people around the globe even now when we can’t meet in person.”

Ole:

“It has been really interesting for me as a non-tech-guy to get to meet you all at the different congresses and conferences. I have been working with literally thousands of managers over the years. 

Managers from all kinds of business´, but it is only a few places I have seen a community so dedicated to the technical aspect, but yet with such great interest in investigating the new aspects… and with such ability to meet that “other” approach to management. I find that you have some of the same qualities as I see within the police, the armed forces and first-line responders. That enormous focus on details and repetition gives you a strong edge when committing to trying out ways like what Anders Dinsen and I are presenting. I am so excited to meet you (again?).”
Thank you, Anders and Ole, 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 Anders and Ole are offering with TLC then don’t miss this chance and sign up for it soon. Below are the details:

About the Interviewees:

Anders Dinsen

Consultant at ASYM APS (Denmark) Copenhagen Area, Capital Region, Denmark. 

Anders Dinsen drives organizational learning and development through testing. He works in agile, waterfall, and hybrid contexts in Copenhagen, Denmark. Anders is Danish, critically minded, educated, and enjoys the short power-distances part of Danish organizational culture as it enables him to influence people with power. He has 25 years of experience in software engineering as a tester, developer, test manager, project manager, leader, facilitator, and coach. He is also the father of four sons aged 15-24 and married to Marianne on their 25th year.

Ole S. Rasmussen

Founder, Executive Coach at Langer & Rasmussen (Denmark) Ole S. Rasmussen is the founder of the management consultancy, Langer & Rasmussen based in beautiful Jutland, Denmark. Ole has more than 20 years of management experience from the armed forces (e.g the Danish Queens’ guards), and the different levels of private and public organizations. The past 10 years he has been running his third company, where he is active as a management consultant, facilitator, coach and teacher with a diverse set of clients from both the private and public sector. Ole is an assistant professor at Copenhagen Business School’s Executive Programme, working and writing with leadership professor Dr Ole Fogh Kirkeby. He also teaches in the Diploma/Bachelor Leadership programmes at the local business college in his hometown. Ole likes to team up with a network of people with diverse, but equally fascinating backgrounds.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Interview with Thomas Haver

Welcome to the third interview from “Quality Talks with TLC Speakers” series. This time we have Thomas Haver with us. And I am sure you will enjoy this interview as much as I did. 

What made you choose “Effective Solutions for Enterprise Test Automation” for your tutorial in TLC? What can participants expect to learn from your tutorial? 

“I have solid working at multiple companies leading an enterprise-level effort in the automation space. My team has learned quite a bit through both successes and failures. We had to spread wide (73 applications) across the web, mobile, desktop, database, services, and mainframe. We’ve also had to deep dive into team processes and metrics to ensure the long-term viability of a program. Participants in my session can learn how to build an enterprise framework – both in terms of automation architecture as well as governance. Automation has become omnipresent in IT, however, most implementations focus on delivering for the next day. I plan to show how an individual can build momentum to keep a program strong for years to come.”

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?

“The in-person format certainly makes it easier for group activities compared to remote format. I’ve taught a few workshops since COVID restricted conference formats and some of my prior material cannot work remotely. For the activities I’ve planned at Test Masters Academy we won’t need to worry about hands-on activities. I plan on using Miro and CardBoardIT to help facilitate activities and make generous use of file sharing to facilitate my session.”

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

“The comparison I draw with testing is with my former career as a scientist. Both jobs require you to be analytical, inquisitive, technical, reflective, passionate, and communicative.  Whereas Science is the pursuit of knowledge for knowledge’s sake, testing is an investigation of a product to reveal quality-related information (presumably to people who care).”

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

“From my own experience, I would say some leaders can be deaf to the needs of their team. Sometimes the most important thing you can do as a leader is to listen to your team. Be understanding of their perspective and be willing to change your approach based on that information. Leaders who focus solely on the deliverable without considering how that impacts their team don’t ultimately build trust.”

What’s the most rewarding part about leading people?

“My definition of success is watching them grow and be happy. Their success is how I measure myself as a leader. I care deeply about their professional development so I make a great effort to give them time to learn.”

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

“I’ve noted there seems to be some animus between members of the testing community on usage of technology (automation, AI, ML, etc.). Healthy discussion is important for us to push boundaries and grow but at times it seems personal. Watching those public battles online or at conferences probably hurts our profession more than it helps, especially since we’re in a focus area that tends to be more restricted by time and budget than others.”

Do you want to share anything else with the TMA community?

“I hope everyone has enjoyed the new conference format. Multiple speaking slots at different times and the sessions spread out over weeks has made it easy for people to engage in their own time. I’m glad Anna decided to keep the conference this year and I look forward to my upcoming workshop.”

Thank you, Thomas, 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 Thomas is offering with TLC then don’t miss this chance and sign up for it soon. Below are the details:

About the Interviewees:

Thomas Haver

Thomas Haver Test Automation Architect

Thomas is presently serving as a Test Automation Architect. He leads a team of testers, ops engineers, and production support analysts in the adoption of DevOps practices. Previously, he led the enterprise automation support of 73 applications at Huntington National Bank that encompassed testing, metrics & reporting, and data management. Thomas has a background in Physics & Biophysics, with over a decade spent in research science studying fluorescence spectroscopy and microscopy before joining IT.

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

 

Interview with Zhenya Rozinskiy

Welcome to the second interview from “Quality Talks with TLC Speakers” series. This time we have Zhenya Rozinskiy with us. And I am sure you will enjoy this interview as much as I did. 

 

What made you choose “Build, Manage and Succeed with Remote and Distributed Teams” for your tutorial in TLC? What can participants expect to learn from your tutorial?

“To move to the world of remote and development teams has been around for a very long time. It’s been around since the first time people decided to sit in different offices of Natsume, and then that expanded and expanded further to different floors in the same building, building across the street, in the same town, different towns, different states, different countries. 

But up until last year and earlier this year, some people made a conscious choice of remote working, some liked it, some didn’t like it. Some people had a choice and people didn’t have a choice. Nobody knew back in March of Feb this year if people would be sitting close to each other, in the same office, or area if they would be working remotely. 

I happened to be involved in the distributed workforce for over 20 years. It’s different, the workforce management with the remote setup is different than doing it in person. It’s not that it’s worse, just different. 

And so what I chose to do is share some of the knowledge, some of the skills, some of the underwater rocks that people will experience or already experienced and stories of how I dealt with it. How my team dealt with it over the past 20 or 20 plus years. Does it range from how do you hire what do you pay attention to? How do you manage? How do you even know if somebody is feeling good, feeling not good, feeling motivated, you know?

How do you make sure that you people with different personalities get along together with different work styles, with things that you took for granted? And some people are friendly to openness, to casual, some prefer being formal more. It doesn’t matter what culture it is but, when somebody new comes in, you mould them into this culture. Well, in everybody’s mould, there is no culture. You’re mould everybody. Everybody’s on their own. And yet you have to have a culture. Like what mode of communication your office culture prefers? Open voice policy or in closed rooms? Do you instant message or chat? Do you do this late at night and you do this in the morning? Do you speak straight to the business or are you a teacher? Is that appropriate if my child runs in the middle of the meeting and sits on my lap? All of that is now completely different. What is it with a culture that has to change? So there are many, many things that we can address in discussion.”

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?

“I think the format is different, but luckily I’ve been doing online tutorials and classes and presentations for many years. There’s a fundamental difference in conversation when I do a lot of things. When I am in the person sitting in the room and I’ve got 20 people, I can easily go and say, who thinks that I can walk around and I can have a conversation and then I can actually like to do this.

I like to have discussions where I drop seeds in people’s heads and then let them discuss. They could agree with me or disagree, they could challenge my ideas or challenge each other. I prefer letting them discuss and be a silent observer there. 

And then I see how that’s working because that’s where a lot of interesting ideas come out and a lot of learning comes up. It’s very difficult, different and difficult to do it online because you can have two people talk at the same time. Facial expressions are different. Some people have cameras on. Some people have cameras off. And there could be lags. People interrupt each other in the process, unknowingly.  So there’s a lot of that. That’s what I’ve been doing for many years. Not the first time, or the last time. We’ll make it work.”

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

“This question is probably not applicable to me. I have to share my background. I started in the tech field as a tester. My first job in the high tech field, I was a key engineer, probably that is more of a fancy title, but I guess Tester could have been a more appropriate title for a company that most of you know called Autodesk. I was working on a project called Architecture that was my first job and actually built my technical career. That was I became an automobile engineer if one can say. Later I became a director, became an IBM, and then I moved to a different and a little different role. So I want to describe myself as a pastor today, but if the question is more applicable, how do you describe the job of a tester? It’s a representation of your clients in front of your product owner. So you are the client. You are the face of the client. And when somebody wants it’s not about fighting, but people think that testing is about five bugs, 20 bugs. It’s just you have to find them, OK, we’ll find them. But it’s about making a product that your customer would enjoy happily.”

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

“That’s a tough one. There are so many mistakes. The people in leadership roles are interesting, I frequently question their leadership.

Not allowing the opinion of other leaders. That’s probably the number one mistake.

I also think people mix up a leader and manager role. Sometimes people get the title of the leader but they are meant to be managers and vice versa. Everybody knows the first mistake that most managers need to address, is that they’re afraid to hire people that are smarter than them. Once they learned that mistake, then hopefully they get to a situation where they never hire somebody who is not smarter and more knowledgeable.

People need to understand that there can be more than one correct answer to the majority of the question, yes, there are some that are very clear. There’s no right or wrong, but there is more than one, the correct answer maybe? And if some of your team members do not agree with your views or think differently, please let them go ahead and develop on it. Let them take over because of their idea, they will do everything they can to defend it, defend it in a way, make it happen. When they’re implementing your idea which you enforce on them and. if it fails, they can always come back and say it was your idea. That might lead to petty arguments. So. Let your people do things. Doesn’t matter how junior they are. No matter how small the task is, but it is their task and you can help them do it better.”

What’s the most rewarding part about leading people?

“To see them grow. The best manager that I’ve ever had in my life, the best leader that I ever had, the person that was my boss more than 20 years ago, and is still to this day, I remembered him and thought about him. He came to me one day and said, it’s time for you to move on. You’re ready to take on a different role and it’s not going to happen in this company. And he actually helped me find a job elsewhere. And I’ve done the same for other people, I worked with other people and know you outgrew this, I can’t give you what I believe you deserve. So let me help you find a job. So the most satisfying thing, I think is for the family or at least for me is to find the right spot for you or for your employee. Sometimes it means you move things around. Sometimes it means you move people out.

Helping people grow, mixing them together by recognising their talents and helping them fit where they belong to, and making most out of it for them, for the team and the product, gives me the satisfaction of special kind. “

Thank you, Zhenya 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 Zhenya is offering with TLC then don’t miss this chance and sign up for it soon. Below are the details:

About the Interviewees:

Zhenya Rozinskiy

CEO Mirigos with nearly 25 years of software development experience, Zhenya had an opportunity to help grow and make successful many companies of different sizes and different maturity levels. Zhenya is a renowned expert in building and managing globally distributed organizations. With experience working with teams on almost every continent, Zhenya developed unique know-how for successful software development with remote talent. Zhenya is a frequently invited speaker at international conferences and has co-authored multiple books on subjects of leadership, remote management, and product development. For the past six years, Zhenya has been focused on helping local companies to build efficient use of remote people and teams.

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

 

Interview with Jennifer Bonine

Welcome to the 1st interview from “Quality Talks with TLC Speakers” series. This time we have Jennifer Bonine with us. And I am sure you will enjoy this interview as much as I did. 

What made you choose “Leadership IQ in the Age of AI” for your tutorial in TLC? What can participants expect to learn from your tutorial? 

“I choose this due to the challenges we are facing now with a pandemic, changes to work life, home life, community life, social life, and everything else.  I want to make sure that along with the rapid technology changes people have the tools and skills needed to lead and navigate these changes.  Managers we have plenty of in the world, but what I feel is critical right now are great leaders who can help communities, organizations, teams, and people through all the challenges we are all faced with currently and in the next few years.  I hope people get some techniques and strategies to help them think about their leadership style and how they want to adapt it to what is needed in their current organization.  I also hope they connect with others facing similar challenges to network beyond the session and help them with leadership challenges they may be faced with.”

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?

“Remote is more of a challenge naturally as everyone right now is not only remote from the workshop but also probably remote from their workplace.  You have the added distractions of family members, other things happening in the world, balancing work and family, and other stressors so remote and then quarantine add a whole new dimension to teaching a workshop! Interaction and discussion are key.  Also, shorter intervals and more breaks help.  We can’t focus as long so taking breaks and getting up and moving around is key to learning.  The connection is also key.  I always start with an activity to connect the audience to one another.  Better connected teams outperform teams that are not highly connected.  So creating that connection even in a remote workshop is necessary and critical for success! And to maximize learning.”

How is leading tech teams different from leading non-tech teams?

“Many elements are the same.  What varies more is what different needs from you as their leader.  It is important to understand the traits that are most needed for the team to succeed and to make sure you as their leader have what is needed in that project and to achieve the goal.  Many people believe you need to be deep in the subject matter to lead and really what usually is most needed are skills like being able to identify talents and strengths in team members and highlighting and showcasing those talents.  Another big task for any leader is to be able to remove barriers and utilize emotional intelligence in situations.  It is also important to know when you need a different leader to change the outcome.  For example, some people lead best during growth stages of teams, some during sustaining times, and some in times of reinvention.  It is important to know what stages of companies you prefer and to know when it is time for another leader to step up and take your place.”

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

“Right now I believe personally that empathy is critical and leading with understanding and empathy is necessary.  We see even in leaders of different countries and how they are leading their citizens through a pandemic.  They have different approaches and styles of leadership.  If you look at countries with leaders that are recognized as emotionally intelligent and empathetic they are excelling at this time.  When in crisis empathy and emotional intelligence are key to leadership and sound decision making.  I believe more leaders need formal training in emotional intelligence and how to adapt their leadership style as needed based on the situation and team they are needing to lead.”

What’s the most rewarding part about leading people?

“I personally love seeing people achieve a goal they didn’t think was possible.  Watching them reach and achieve something they didn’t know they could do.  I love being a mentor and coach and seeing people succeed in their personal and professional goals.”

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?

“Naturally, each person has different things they bring with them from their own life experiences and perspectives.  I believe diversity of thought and experience is critical for all leaders.   They have done studies that show female leaders tend to naturally have more empathy so in times of crisis they can draw upon that skill if it comes naturally to them.  That is not to say that all women have that trait, but the percentages seem to be higher in women overall.   I believe for any leader you also need to know your blind spot or weakness and surround yourself with a “ personal board of directors” to help you navigate and steer you with key decisions in your career.  I have on my personal board individuals that are extremely strong in areas I know I am not as strong in for the reason of being able to give me another perspective on a situation or challenge I may be facing as a leader.  The key is to remove the “echo chamber” of people who always just agree with you and to empower a group of advisors who challenge your thinking and help make you a better more well-rounded leader.”

Do you want to share anything else with the TMA community?

“I am passionate about youth leaders and entrepreneurs and spend time with them to gain insight and perspective and encourage others to do that as well!  I learn so much from youth and working with them and hearing their ideas and approaches to solving challenges.  I am also working on a children’s book series about a lion and her best friend bot and their adventure to help introduce AI/ML concepts to young children, to hopefully pique their curiosity about technology and how it shapes their world.   A chapter I wrote just early released in a book called “accelerating software quality”.  It was fun to provide a chapter in this industry collaboration around the impact of AI on Quality and DevOps.”

Thank you, Jennifer, 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 Jennifer is offering with TLC then don’t miss this chance and sign up for it soon. Below are the details:

About the Interviewees:

Jennifer Bonine

 

CEO AI Appstore Startup Life • Entrepreneurship • Leading Change• AI • Cultivating diversity of thought • Design Thinking 

Jennifer Bonine is the CEO of AI Appstore, Inc., and was the first female Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) platform tech CEO. AI Appstore specializes in custom subscription technology bundles, leveraging an intelligent platform to recommend actions and changes in the software development lifecycle. The company exceeds expectations of integration, testing, delivery, and management with a groundbreaking business model that is fully engaged in the sustainable development goals (“SDGs”) cultivated by the United Nations.

Respected as a gifted speaker, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Jennifer Bonine addresses the AI industry nationally and internationally, most recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos and for CNNMoney Switzerland. She has held executive-level positions leading teams for Oracle and Target and is a founding board member of the United States bid for a World Expo 2027. Jennifer is a 2020 Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal Women in Business honoree, a founding sponsor and member of IVOW AI’s Women in History Data Ideation Challenge, and an executive board member of Chad Greenway’s Lead the Way Foundation. She is a member of Million Dollar Women, member and ​TeamWomen, and is a council member of DreamTank, an organization designed to champion young entrepreneurs. Recently named one of the Top 30 Leaders to Watch in 2020 by Silicon Review, Jennifer Bonine was featured at the UN’s AI for Good summit. Jennifer is also developing a series of books to educate children about the power of AI and machine learning

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

 

The season change is almost here …

Another week just started and it is the last week of TMACL2020. The temperature is dropping here. Looks like it’s time for the season to change?

It is hard to believe we are already in the last week of the conference. How is it possible? The time is running so fast and I feel like we just started and now it is almost over. I am curious to see what this week holds for me and jump-start with the first day.

Monday, August 17th

The new week hold the session  “Transforming with Scaled Agile and Importance of Test Leadership” by Ali Khalid 

My key takeaways from Ali’s session are – 

Transformation = End User value

Servant leadership is a journey, not a concept. Practice it. It is necessary to build autonomy and mastery in every team during the agile transformation. All engineers should be able to perform the role of a tester.

Test architect Roles and Responsibilities:

Ali mentioned that technical training on test automation starts with teaching testing skills.

Even if you have a crystal clear vision, your journey will be unexpected. Don’t over plan, iterate. The self-autonomous team needs input from experts- on technical thought leadership and guidance. Get one, even for part-time. 

Later on the day, there was a session “Let there be light in your Performance Tests, Invade the Darkness” by Christina Thalayasingam .

Christina mentioned the goal of performance testing is to basically assess.

  • Reliability: How often
  • Stability: How long
  • Speed: How fast
  • Scalability: How much

Some tips from Christina – 

  • Assess production readiness
  • Evaluate against performance criteria
  • Compare performance characteristics of multiple systems or system configuration
  • Find the source of performance problems/bottlenecks
  • Support system tuning and detect memory leaks
  • Provide reporting regarding performance against expectations.

Starting performance testing you should ask these questions to yourself and your team:

  • How many loads can an application web system handle without exhausting or breaking the system?
  • Is the application stable or scalable?
  • What are the response times of the transactions under a load?
  • What is the client-side behaviour/ response times under load?
  • Can applications hardware handle the expected load?

Set the Groundwork and straighten up the existing test process and follow the performance testing process:

See if it is feasible to conduct the tests:

Before starting a strategy, make sure current testing tools/framework support on the application. This can be identified by doing a POC. This is not required or mandatory if the performance test framework is in place already.

To start POC

  • Start direct communication with the application team
  • Get the exact requirement
  • Select a complex and to end workflow (scenario) that need to be tested
  • Get a complete understanding of the scenario from the team
  • Get access to the test environment
  • Start the POC

Identifying the performance test requirements means to understand the business priority, application, the application environment, workload model, expected performance SLAs/SLOs and the growth pattern.

When we have answered all the questions we can look into the performance test scope.

Christina shared some tips if the application is already in the production:

  1. Get the most highly consumed business scenarios/services
  2. For a performance Test Plan, you need performance tests types that need to be performed and a performance test approach and the test execution plan for each item. 
  3. Identify the risk and decide performance test entry criteria and exit criteria

When you have done all of this you can start scripting. Christina mentioned not to forget to conduct tests with/without background noise. Trial/ Dry Run is important to make sure that the rest of the test is successful.

For performance test execution planning and test execution, it is important what we plan, the performance test execution time slots are important and so is to communicate it to the application team and the other teams who use that environment.

Get the confirmation from all the teams prior to performance test execution. Before kicking off the test please send a notification.

Christina shared the following performance metrics we need to collect in the process.

And then analyse and report and think of the other checks that you should add. e.g. client-side profiling, with load testing, component-level performance and endurance testing also as continuous sprint level testing.

An interesting session to end the day with, before the next day starts… 

Tuesday, August 18th

With “Growing a Culture of Quality” by Simon Prior another great session was held. 

Simion started an experience report with; “This works for me – it might not work for you.” What a great way to start a presentation! He suggested starting the quality of life narrative with misconceptions around testing and QA e.g. Simon said “The measure of whether the software meets the explicit and implicit needs of the customer and their ability to use it successfully.” 

I can’t reflect enough on the notes I took from Simon’s session. Check out my notes yourself –

A shared cross-team focuses on delivering high-quality software that meets the user’s needs is the highest priority, and all our practices support this, is cultural quality.

What makes your narrative?

  • The Quality narrative is how quality is measured and perceived in your company
  • Understanding what it is and what you want it to be is the first step towards building the right culture
  • Who owns quality?
  • How is testing done?
  • What value does it provide?

Defending our utopian narrative – 

How do you want testing to be perceived? Can you identify tangible ways for value to be visible and is quality is seen at the level it needs to be?

Before changing the quality mindset in your organisation, define where you are now?  Where do you want to be? Be clear on it and then you can define how to come from 1 to 2!

You might ask yourself now, but how do we get there?

A great team starts with the leader- All starts with YOU!

Does the team believe in you, are you showing your passion and can they buy into your values? Simon shared his testing values he uses to get the team believing in what they want to achieve and it helps them to move forward.

EMPOWER – create a “safe to fail” environment for your team. Give them the confidence to speak up and talk about “testing” and give them the opportunity to show their passion.

Celebrate all successes no matter how small.

Once the team feels empowered, engage and inspire them by organising an internal community of practice. For example, you can invite engaging speakers from outside of the business, share blogs and online material for the team to learn. Learn by example, be active in the external communities and work as a great example.

Find every opportunity to speak about quality. Raise the awareness of what the team is doing and show what the team could do if given the chance. Find your allies and search out the voices within other teams who get what you are trying to achieve and convince them they will advocate for you within the wider business. The more people who believe in your message, the better it stands of being heard.

Speak the language of the business and find a way to articulate the importance of quality. Get quality/testing in earlier discussions and show the value of good quality to the end product.

How to make test process improvement visibly:

  • Collaborate in ideas to improve the process
  • Show business how they will help improve quality
  • Ensure everyone understands the value of measuring quality.

Get feedback and review – regularly ask for feedback from the wider business, send pulse surveys to key people and work through and improve on suggestions. Show that you take it seriously and work on it.

Keep going, because difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. Be ready for a journey. Continuously improving the process will be key, there will be rocky patches and culture doesn’t have a definitive end.

My key takeaway from this session:

  • Set the quality of narrative and vision.
  • Engage the team and get them focussed on the vision for quality.
  • Share, the vision and passion with the wider business
  • Build, relationships outside the test team and find allies who can help raise awareness
  • Drive, process improvements which are quality focussed and moving the org closer to the vision.
  • Iterate and reflect to reach success.

“From Manual to Humanual Testing” by Kirk Walton and Josh Brenneman from TapQA started the session asking us a few questions to come to know a little more about our backgrounds before they started their session.

One of the questions everyone was curious about was, what was humanual testing?

It is a collection of user-centric testing techniques, application of an empathetic mindset, founded on principles of design thinking and evolution of thoughts. It is not a model with a prescribed process, a stage of testing or a nice to have, you know if there is time, because there is never time. It is too important to ignore. 

Manual testing needs empathy in analytical skills because you can’t automate these steps.

“The human is more important than technology so you have to make technology more human” We need to make this product right, qualitative high end and to analyse where we want to go  We need user motivation and user frustration that helps enhance more empathy with users when building test coverage. 

Three humanual testing techniques:

  • Using Personas – it is nothing new in testing but still something that works. Here Josh shared an example which can help you to create your own specific personas for your daily basis. Also if you want to know more about using personas and creating them you can find more information in the late sessions I reported before in my reports here by Joshua Russell in and Jennifer Bonine

  • User-Centric reporting – Keeping the end-user in mind and asking yourself what you are observing, and how will it affect your user?
  • Using guided ideation – “How might we” works well for testers to brainstorm on test coverage and risks.

What do we need for our daily testing?

Humanual testing and design thinking, attributes of design thinking, Empathy – Is so important. Many people forget what you said but never how you made them feel.

How can this relate to how you make them feel, how the webpage made them feel? Non-judgmental mindset, holistic, constructive and collaborative thinking is the key.

Design thinking mindset

My key takeaways –

In our daily work with humanual testing we – 

EmpathiseDefine– using effective techniques creating opportunity statements. Putting a sentence into combining the role and challenge – Ideate – The best way to have a good idea is having a lot of ideas. Questioning also what could be a bad idea and – Prototype – Design thinking has a deep relation to Concept for what is for? Don’t be afraid to fail. – Test – Get positive and negative feedback. Try something else if the first idea is not working.

Wednesday, August 19th

Today’s session “Leading the New Generation of Software Testing” by Mike Lyles was highly recommended by many participants on twitter and I was sure I did not want to miss it.

From Mike’s session –

Mike on what defines a good leader –  A good leader is listening, has a high level of understanding, uses his empathy, knows his people inside and out, is constantly coaching, mentoring and guiding. A good leader is transparent and inspires and motivates his people.

Mike on the values of great leaders – He gives his service to others by assisting and inspiring the team and helping them to grow. Evaluate the skills of the team and take chances on those with high potential.

Virtues of bad leaders – 

  • Micromanagement
  • Threatened
  • Does not share information
  • Plays favourite/favouritism 
  • Unclear
  • Cares about who is right
  • Fails on commitment
  • Thinks “they work for me”
  • Fails to delegate
  • Rejects change

“Bad leaders care about who is right. Good leaders care about what is right.” – Simon Sinek

A great leader uses the 4 magic words, what do you think?

Giving and accepting feedback, honestly, holds the team accountable for continuous training and education with open door policy. Trust – without trust you will spend lots of time trying to regain it and if you lose it, it may never come back.

“The best leaders know when it’s time to be big and when it’s time to be small and let others step up” by Liz Wiseman

Some more words of wisdom by Mike –

Protect your team and know what motivates your team. Constructive criticism is imminent, but remember, praise in public and criticize in private. They will respect you for doing this.

DWYSYWD means Do what you said you would do. To whom are you committed, what time. It is a simple process to follow.

Never say “they work for me”.  Say they work with me instead to build confidence in and with your team and make them feel part of the team. Be consistent/dependable, the team knows that you are guiding them to success.

Mike shared the eight steps for leading (testers)

  1. First things first – Check if your team is in sync, do they speak the same language and do they follow the same goal of success? Find out what they believe.
  2. Education – Great teams are never satisfied, tech the schools of testing and encourage community engagement.
  3. Play well with others – Coaches want their team to win – but fairly. Let your team see your engagement with others and place them in the same situation. 
  4. A fool with a tool is still a fool – Digital Age has increased the dependency on electronics like calculators, smartphones, e-books. With any tool, understand the needs and the process first.
  5. Send them to camp – Camp allows social interaction collaboration, send your team to conferences and training and encourage collaboration with the community. Focus on the quality of training, which is needed for your team.
  6. Nothing fails like success – What works today, may not be good enough for tomorrow. 
  7. Share with the whole family – Team interaction is so critical, encourage teams to share with peers and stakeholders to become a collaborative organisation. Agile is dependent on Partnership, stakeholders need to understand the value to foster a culture of quality.
  8. Find what you love – “You’ve got to find what you love… Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do…If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you`ll know when you find it. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs

Have you ever been walking through a corn maze? You may have two options. First – using a map or second – follow the way your inner voice tells you and trust it fully. What would you choose?

Using a map takes away your creativity, you might get through it quickly, but you will not fully explore the whole field. You may miss some very interesting and important parts of the maze if you just try to find the fastest path out.

Running into a corn maze is like walking on the path to success. What you see, may not be what you get. But sometimes, changing the path ahead of you can lead you to beautiful destinations. Love the journey not just your goals to success, in every mistake or wrong decision, lies learning you might have missed if it would not have been done. 

Mike asked us this question, Do you have a mentor? Do you have one?

“A good way to learn how to deal with something is to listen to those that have been through it themselves.”, said Mike.

Personal growth has a high impact on you and the question, “What do you want to achieve in ten years?” If you want to see growth in your career, help someone else to grow in theirs. Helping others will always help/heal yourself in the end.

There will be times when you will have to modify your communication to help others understand” – added Mike.

Mike also said he doesn’t use metrics all the time, but when he does, he tells a story.

What is your story? Does your customer have faith in you and do you know what to report? Are you being asked to do something you know is not right? Always keep in mind, your customers are hungry for information and they are waiting for you to do the right thing.

Here is something more that I learned from Mike’s session – 

Practising the GQM –

  1. Determine the goals of the stakeholders and/or project team.
  2. Define, from each goal, which question must be answered to determine if the goals are being met.
  3. Document what must be measured to accurately answer the question.

Understand your team’s why by using Simone Sinek’s “Golden Circle.

  • Outside in (conventional)
  • Inside out (remarkable)
  • What – every single person knows What they do.
  • How – someone knows how they do What they do.
  • Why – very few people can articulate why they do what they do.

Mike Lyles said you’ve got to feel empowered to suggest a different design or approach. 

You have the potential to change the world and it is all in your hand and people will know you for what you’ve done, not for what you plan to do.”

What a great way to end the session leaving us wondering with many questions we needed to answer for ourselves. I am curious to find my own answers. What about you?

Tuesday, August 20th

For me, that was last day at TMALC2020 and we started the day with “Keynote: The Great Accelerator” by Jen Scandariato

Jen shared lots of interesting insights into her electrifying talk.

“There are decades where nothing happens and there are weeks when decades happen” by Vladimir Lenin.

Jen suggested some great tips to create your leadership resume such as expand in multiple roles, put the areas of your focus, not just your existing expertise. It is important to create a community at this time. A community you can lean on and support others as well.

On Leadership in a pandemic, Jen shared it is a new experience. Yes you don’t know exactly what you will be doing (technically) but providing goals is a very important (being strategic)

Jen’s advice to managers: Spend time with experts in your team, learn from them.

When encountered with the question how are you managing your leadership in these times, Jen said –  Be real, be you, I have no idea this is my first pandemic.

Leadership in the time of uncertainty differs from “normal times” – we don’t have the “map” but we have the vision. It’s important to instil confidence in your team so that everyone aspires to your vision.

We are working from home and it is important to show that we are empathetic, kind and caring.

Empathy – show empathy around the circumstances your team is facing. Schedule 25 min breaks for your team working remotely throughout the day.

More learnings from Jen’s keynote – 

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You have to keep this winning mindset. It is hard, the world is getting smaller so we have to start to stand together. We need our community, it is important to lean on others and ask for help. If you help someone else with their issues, it will also help you with yours. Pay more attention to communication.

Be someone who can solve a problem. Break out of your mould (your role, the way people see you) to get your career advances. Make mistakes- to reduce anxiety about new roles, new skills. Step out of your lane – people will perceive you are more capable. And remember always, sometimes you have to change the company, to change your role.

Jen’s advice to women, dealing with stress, especially in this pandemic – 

The strongest people are the ones you have to check on the most. Build trust, follow your metrics and express it. Communicate with people to influence others and go on different reactions. Women in tech, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable now, ask for more flexibility from your manager. You have to deal with a lot of things now, be open.

New Skills for leaders to do well with more remote work- you are on TV. Learn skills, be more animated, entertaining, open and empathetic.

Raise your hand and volunteer for work and try to find something how you can move the team forward.

Career advice: state what you want to your manager, don’t wait until the manager does it for you. Say what you want, don’t wait for your manager to sense it.

Mentor others, help your team, and it is important for you to say Yes – even if you don’t know yet, is what you feel. Take the opportunity.

Right after this great keynote speech, we had the chance to listen to “Keynote: The Testing Profession: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. An opinionated tirade of strong opinions and rants” by Paul Holland

My notes from Paul’s talk –

Language – People often use language in non-precise ways and some of them complain about others pointing out their sloppiness. Where is the problem? It is a poor use of language which can lead to confusion and misunderstanding.

Paul argued that if you call yourself a QA (question asker, quality assistant) – people hear QA and assume quality assurance anyway. Ad hoc is for a purpose, it’s not random when we talk about testing.

Paul on – Good Bug Report

“I write my bug reports as if they were going to be read by a mind-wiped version of myself. by Hilary Weaver Robb

Components of a good bug report:

  • The problem Clearly and concisely describes the issue
  • Example – Recreation steps like you’re new to the team
  • Oracle – Why is this a bug?
  • Polite – Avoiding emotion and blame.
  • Literate – Tell a story. Proper spelling and grammar.
  • Extrapolate – What else might be related?
  • Workaround

Test escape – It may not be worthwhile to create checks for escape that are: 

  • Critical path
  • Recurring issue
  • Potential revenue impacting
  • Otherwise important enough

Metrics – 

A standard of measurement. No metric exists that can be applied directly to happiness. 

A mathematical function that associates a real non-negative number analogous to distance with each pair of elements in a set such that the number is zero only if the two elements are identical, the number is the same regardless of the order in which the two elements are taken and the number associated with one pair and a third element is equal to or greater than a number associated with the other member of the pair and the third element.

Goodheart’s law states:

Any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once the pressure is placed upon it for control purposes. And to me, this is seriously something we should keep in mind in our work.

“When a measure becomes a target it ceases to be a good measure” (this is gold) 

Elements of bad metrics – 

  1. Measure and/ or compare elements that are inconsistent in size or composition – 
  • Impossible to effectively use for comparison 
  • How many containers do you need for possessions?
  • Test Cases and Test Steps 
  • Bugs

2. Create a competition between individuals and o/or teams.

  • They typically do not result in friendly competition
  • Inhibits sharing of information and teamwork
  • Especially damaging if compensation impacts.

3. Easy to “game” or circumvent the desired intention.

  • Easy to be improved by undesirable behaviour
  • Pass rate Execute more simple tests that will pass or break up a long test case into many smaller ones
  • Number of bugs raised: Raising two similar bug reports instead of combining them

4. Containing misleading information gives a false sense of completeness.

  • Summarizing a large amount of information into one or two numbers out of context.
  • Coverage (Code, path) Misleading information based on touching a path in the code once
  • Pass rate and number of test cases

Impact of using bad metrics –

A good test report should tell a complete story about the product/feature that will include

  • Status of the product – in words, not numbers.
  • Testing coverage (especially what wasn’t tested) Considering using a product coverage outline mind map.
  • Indication of the testing effort
  • Risk status
  • Other bugs – if warranted to be in the report

About the “best practices” – if something is the best, it cannot be improved upon. Using “best practice” will inhibit improvement and limit.

Some more notes –

What is your biggest fear? Answer to this question gives you more input into your testing strategy and coverage of the required documentation.

UI automation is often used too much and created by non-developers. When you take a tester away from testing and have them write automation you likely lose a good tester and gain a bad developer.

Automation will likely not increase your coverage, decrease your costs, save your time or allow you to reduce headcount. Unless you also increase risk.

Automation can give you a decent sanity check of your product and execute in less time than a human performance the same checks.

My key takeaway was a word of advice to leaders and testers – do your best to fight for good.

Wow, what a sentence to end one month, four weeks, twenty days full of knowledge on leadership and testing! What an amazing time we had together and how much wisdom we managed to take with us.

What was your favourite moment at this conference? Please share your favourite moment with us and send a tweet out to our community @testmasteracad @AstridWinkler4 and as always, don’t forget the #tmatlc2020

I would like to thank Anna Royzman and her team who did an amazing job organizing and leading this conference in such difficult circumstances and never losing their smiles. 

I want to conclude this last report with this quote – “Leadership is the process of creating an environment in which people become empowered.” – Gerald M. Weinberg from his book “Becoming a Technical Leader”

For all of you, I wish great success in testing, creating personas or for great leadership. I am looking forward to meeting you again and listening to your new experiences. Till then, stay safe, take care and love what you do.

Until next …

(Oh, by the way, we will be back on  September 1st with Jennifer Bonnie in her Tutorial: Leadership IQ in the Age of AI and with many more interesting tutorials. I hope to see you there again.. stay tuned!)

Astrid

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