July 2016 Meetup of Software Testing Philippines

I attended a local software testing meetup yesterday. Typically, I’d only join if the venue was near work, but I had the day off so stressing out over getting to the venue wasn’t an issue. What also lured me in is that there would be a talk on chartered exploratory testing and mind mapping. It’s not the first time I’ve ever heard of those things, but to hear about them in a local context was something that got me interested.

Actually, hearing things in a local context is why I generally bother to attend these meetups. You can google the concepts, you can google for tools, but you can’t google how other peers are doing software testing locally.

So the meetup had 2 parts — 3 if you count the part where we got fed free pizza and soft drinks. There was the talk on Collaborative Test Design by Ian Pestelos (I’ll link to the slides if the deck gets shared), and there was an Open Space discussion. Since “Open Space” was in title-case, I went ahead and googled it and found this (from Martin Fowler’s site) and this (how to run an Open Space event). An interesting take-away from googling about Open Space is The Law of Two Feet:

If, during the course of the gathering, any person finds themselves in a situation where they are neither learning nor contributing, they must go to some more productive place.

Overall, I enjoyed Ian’s talk, and I wouldn’t have second thoughts about recommending it to peers. The Open Space discussion, not my favorite thing. Would I go to one of these meetups again? Sure, if there’d be talks on topics I find interesting and if my schedule permits.

(Just some notes after the read-more)

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Why aren’t we… why don’t we have…

Warning: A lot of mention of “innovation”, “innovate”, “innovative” in this post. Here’s a photo of my two cute dogs if you need a break from those buzzwords.

A question got raised one evening while we were in Tinola (that’s the name of the conference room, which is also the name of a local viand), and we ended up having a full-blown discussion over it complete with a mindmap on the white board.

So the question was: Why aren’t we innovating as much as they want? We decided the key points were: Time, Skills, Motivation. Experience is essential for the insights and the intuition it brings for being able to distinguish what could be of value and what would most likely be a waste of time. We had a dotted line to “Management support” as they’d be the one most qualified to allocate time and skills at least. But that didn’t make the cut on what’s at the top of our list. Looking at the image, it kind of generally addresses any other question on why we don’t have something that’s being demanded of us.

why_arent_we

I’ll try to go over each item from what I can recall.

Time – To produce something or create something generally takes time. I think that’s a physical, realistic, and basic requirement. Just sitting down on a problem can’t solve it — you have to think about it, process it, rack your brains for solutions or ideas. That by itself takes time. And implementing the solution all the more. So when folks are so busy in their projects, it’s a bit hard to expect them to focus on anything else.

But say you free up people so they can work on “innovations”, there’s this other aspect on skills.

Skills – If the expected solution is an implemented application or system, then that requires skills in software engineering — design and analysis, then there’s implementation or coding, testing, etc. These are skills you don’t just build overnight so with the learning curve, it’s going to take a lot more time to come up with a minimum viable product (i had to use that term*). Then there’s this concern on which skill do we need to build up further — shouldn’t we focus on strengthening our testing chops since we’re testers after all? Learn more about other aspects of testing that could be relevant to our craft/career? Or should we use that hypothetical free time learning to code so we can create applications?

And then again do we know how to innovate to begin with? Maybe there are some workshops to develop one’s skills in problem solving or creative thinking which could increase one’s chances in coming up with something innovative.

So say we have the time, we have the skills. It doesn’t mean we’ll already be working on innovating. We need a reason why to drive us and that’s the third point which is motivation.

Motivation – This is what would compel us to innovate. It’s so important to have a why! It’s emphasized so much even in the Jillian Michael’s workout video I’ve been regularly watching where she says “If you have a why, you can tolerate any how.”

It’s but natural for us humans to ask what’s in this for me? What would I get out of this? This could take on different forms — it could be financial rewards for some, fun for others, opportunities to learn for the rest, etc. It depends on the person’s individual priorities on what would be rewarding and in turn motivating for him.

Then there’s also the question on whether there is even a need to innovate. Of course, there are always things that could be improved, but there has to be a good problem to solve — the kind that’ll feel like you have an itch to scratch, the kind that will merit the need to spend time on it.

So that’s pretty much it for what we discussed that evening. Thanks for reading!

*Long story — maybe i can share some other time. I’ve rambled on for too long already. Thanks again for reading!