EuroSTAR 2015 – my third day in review

The third day kicked off with Rikard Edgren and his “Growing from a reckless bug hunter to a stakeholder conversationalist”. Rikard’s message was that you need earn respect by finding valuable information. Tester’s are in the information business. Testing is never better than the communication of the results!

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Rikard described his way to become context-driven in three major steps. It started with his biggest mistake. He and his team found 30 bugs, and they were proud. And they wondered why nobody came back to them with a response. The reason was that they were context-unaware and failed to understand the real testing mission.
Second step was the poster story. Rikard and his colleagues published the famous poster of quality characteristics, I have it hanging next to my desk myself, and they felt as context-hipsters. His tip was to use the poster for finding test ideas and James Bach’s list for test strategy purpose.

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But Rikard was not happy with the poster because it uses his namespace. His new approach suggests, start with a blank page and ask the stakeholders what is important for them. Use the customer’s words.

The last step is “The Conversationalist”. Rikard is doing more talking than testing nowadays and values information pull over information push. You have to adjust your language to the stakeholder, and invest the time to find out that you know you are testing the right thing.

Explain your testing, why are you testing and why is your test strategy good? Anchor you test strategy, often the test report is not the problem, it’s the strategy that is not understood.

My takeaways from that session are, that I am not the only one who made mistakes due to misunderstanding the mission. In my opinion it is important for a tester to speak the languages of the parties he is working with and that the tester is able to translate from his language/namespace to the stakeholders namespace. Rikard fortified my opinion.

 

Next on my list was Geoff Thompson talking about “Test Process Improvement – How hard can it be?” The talk was mostly about change, and why it’s so hard to improve your test process. I liked the statement “It seems to be easier to keep paying people doing things wrong.” The key messages of the talk were taken from John Kotter’s book “Our Iceberg is Melting”. There is also a nice video available.

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The Dunning-Kruger effect is important to consider when going through change. The unskilled overrate their abilities, while the skilled underrate them. And there is also the dis-organized people accept change with open arms while organized people already think they are effective.
At the center of every process and every change to it stand people and culture. And there will always be someone in a change project who says: No! As change manager you have to concentrate on those people to be successful.

My takeaway was that “change is difficult”. Well, we are humans, ain’t we, and we don’t like change.

 

It was time for the next “Soap Box Session”, and it was my buddy Dan Billing up on the box. Dan gave a shout-out to the Weekend Testing Europe chapter, which is a great institution to improve your testing. So far I only joined Weekend Testing America sessions, but they are all worth attending. I can only affirm Dan’s statement: “Join Weekend Testing!”
It would not be Dan if he talked only about a non-security topic. So there was a second part. And it was about EXTERMINATE! Dan’s Dr. Who favorite villain related mnemonic about security testing!

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Next up was Michael Bolton and his statement “No more exploratory testing!”. I have read Exploratory Testing 3.0, so I new roughly what was coming, but still it is a pleasure to see Michael on stage. That was obviously the view of many, because the auditorium was packed.

The beginning of the history of testing was very much confirming my experience of the past 13 years as a tester. In 1972 there was the book “Program Test Methods”, it was trying to structure testing and it ignored completely the human aspect to testing. Testing became confused with its artifacts. Testing became over-formalized by processes (see also the latest attempt: ISO29119), and testing was all about the test cases. Since computers are procedural, so have to follow procedures to test it.
It was also the time that “ad hoc” and “exploratory” got confused and many mix up “unscripted” with “unstructured” when talking about exploratory testing. Michael’s article “Testing without a map” shows that Exploratory Testing has a lot of structure. The key elements of exploratory testing are freedom and responsibility. Scripted testing is controlling the tester from the outside. And people seem to forget, that you need to do exploratory testing first to get to scripted testing.

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We have to relax our degree of description to follow to give testers the freedom and responsibility they deserve to fulfill their tasks. And we always seem to forget, that there is no other cognitive profession using cases to frame and describe their work. And very important, don’t confuse checklists with test cases.

So the conclusion is, all testing is exploratory, so you can skip the “exploratory”. And “scripting” is just an approach.

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My takeaway from this talk was learning about the background why in my former company, which was heavily iSTQB- and waterfall-driven, exploratory testing had a bad reputation: 1) they simply did not understand it, 2) they tried to reduce the human factor. Which can also be seen in the naming: Test Factory!
My second takeaway is that my approach of the last 2 years to start with heavy exploratory testing and then produce correct and useful test scripts for regression testing purpose was correct. Only some know why I had to abandon it, and I won’t state it here.

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And we came to the closing keynote “Wild West Security” by Paco Hope. Paco designed his metaphor for his key message based on the famous western movie “The Magnificent Seven”. He described seven roles of an IT project who all have their responsibilities for security and have to contribute to it. All roles have certain specialties that make them predestined to contribute to security. He described how Testers, DevOps, Product Owner, Project Manager, Architects, Developers, and Security Specialists can help with making their product secure.

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The key message was: “Everyone who has something to do with Software has something to do with Software Security”.

It was a fun metaphor to show how everyone can and has to contribute to software security. And my key takeaway is to learn more about security testing and aspects I need to be aware of.

The ladies from the test lab took the stage:

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Carly, Adina, Jyothi, Susan, and Guna made a fantastic job in providing challenges and riddles, hosting a wonderful area in the Expo where people could meet, discuss, and learn. Thank you lab rats! You did a fantastic job!

Then it was time to announce the next destination and the next conference chair for EuroSTAR 2016. And it will be in Stockholm from Oct 31st – Nov 3rd, with conference chair Shmuel Gershon! In my opinion two excellent choices!

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And it was time for the do-over session. Attendees could vote for sessions that they wanted to see, to see again, or wanted others to see it. And it was a session I missed on Wednesday and wanted to see, lucky me. Julie Gardiner was talking about “Survival Skills for Testers”. That was my session of day 3, why I described it in an extra post.

 

To conclude a wonderful experience I went last to conference chair Ruud Teunissen’s “How to share your lessons learned”. I shared with you already a lot of information and insights of the 3 days of EuroSTAR, next will be my team.

Thanks for staying till the end, I hope you like my review of day 3 of EuroSTAR.

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