Thursday, 16 November 2017

COPENHAGEN CONTEXT DRIVEN TESTING CONFERENCE 2017

Pre-conference:
Some of the attendees at the conference and those who wished to be a part of the pre-conference registered to be at the meetup that was held a day before the Copenhagen CDT conference, courtesy Danske Bank.

Pre-conference meetup was kicked off by Paul Holland who used United States as software testing analogy and routes to different states in the USA as the test environment. It was an interesting and an eye opening session for most of us present learning about ‘The Potholes of Automating too much’ and on how NOT to test. Paul being an ex-pilot and with over 20 years of experience in testing, had several gems of lessons to share with us.
Points to ponder:
How to make sense out of the test environment when performing testing?
If investigation does not happen then why run the tests?

The second session was by Keith Klain whom I idolise, his talk was about ‘How to "Sell" Testing to C-level Management?’
I, along with the other audience members asked questions and found ways to overcome the challenges we face selling testing to the CXO's.
Key takeaways:
Do not sell testing, instead use a language that the management understands and speak in terms of business and revenue generated, and the cost saved if possible for your voice to be heard.
I noted that, Keith rarely used or referred the slides, he has been speaking about this topic for a while now and we all testers need to yet learn the tact of 'How to not sell testing to CXO's'.
Many a times we fail by spending the limited time we get to educate the management on testing. Instead prepare yourself to speak in a language, and using terms that makes sense from business perspective.

CONFERENCE DAY 1 - TUTORIAL DAY
I opted to attend the tutorial on 'HOW TO COACH TESTERS TO BE BETTER TESTERS'
Carsten Feilberg and Cindy Carless with their brilliant approach to run the tutorial took us participants on a path of learning to coach self and others.
It was a fantastic full day learning by examples and models to learn how to coach.
I learned about ways to coach self which isn't all that easy and the others.
How to be and not to be a coachee was demonstrated at the end of the day by practical examples.
This exercise brought out many key lessons for us all to learn from.
I was glad to have had this opportunity and to learn from both Carsten and Cindy.
Point to note here was the pace of this full day tutorial, breaks which allowed us all to question, learn from each other.
The ice breaker at the beginning of the session was an excellent way to introduce self to others when we first meet.
Few of the ice breaker questions are as follows:
Where is home?, Siblings?,1st job?,Worst job?, Challenges growing up?, Interesting hobbies?. It helped build trust and honour all present.

Carsten and Cindy were/are very well equipped and shared practical examples, do's and don'ts of coaching.
Lessons shared:
Coaching: Assist person A to go from X to Y in your own best way and not the coaches way.
Mentoring: A mentor helps with your existing skills.
A coach can wear a mentoring hat.
Have goal directed conversations with your coach.
Refine the goals - Know when you get there. Build connection / rapport. Learn by matching / mirroring.
Be involved in coaching as a coach and as a coachee, know that they are with you and you with them. So that they can go along this process with you.
Coaching takes two willing participants: Coach and the coachee.
Include stakeholder when coaching.
Deal with the coachee's emotional imbalance if they come to you with it.
Coaching requires equal level of emotion to begin coaching.
Meet the coachee at their emotional level.
Deal with the emotions, then start coaching. This for me is an excellent piece of suggestion that I learned and registered.
If feasible, invite an observer when you coach the coachee initially, as you take up coaching.
Be a guide and not a problem solver.
Do not force a coach on others.
Coaching may not be for all.
Know that some do not need a coach.
Whilst coaching, feelings and emotions can come to play, keep them at bay.
Patience is the key along this journey.
Structure the coaching process, do not derail. Learn and refer various models of coaching and use different models for different scenarios.
And many more gems of wisdom was shared by the coaches in this tutorial. Gratitude and love to the both of them for arranging and running this tutorial with us all.
Personally, I have been briefly coached by Carsten Feilberg and he is an excellent coach one can be associated with. Kudos to them both.


CONFERENCE DAY 2
Day 2 began by shedding light about the what, why, where, when, who and how of the context driven testing community in Copenhagen.
It was an absolute honour to know about Morten Hougaard who has been a torch bearer of this education in Denmark. And with contributions from Michael Bolton, COCO2017 was made possible.

The first keynote of the day was by Keith Klain, who has adopted a great style of delivery and an excellent way of sharing lessons learned.
Few gems from the keynote:
Focus on business risks.
Test managers need to be hands on testers too.
Think deeply about your work.
TRUST your team to do a great job.
Learn and spread the word about CDT.
Be not a tool fetish.

Having heard Keith on earlier occasions too, his talk did strike a chord with the audience and he did engage the participants very well with his notations on 'I don't think deeply about my work', 'I don't trust my team', 'I don't like testing'. Thinking testers understand this and need support from those who "don't". Let us be wise and support each other to "I do".

Next up was my talk on 'Testers role as requirement gatherers' I was fortunate to have my coach, Carsten in the audience who would later share first hand feedback on the talk.
It was my second talk in the European region and I did not know what to expect from this audience. But the participants did give a listening ear and asked questions relevant at the end of the session. I wish I had more time to also do a practical exercise. Nevertheless it was a great day attending other talks at the conference and this made me happy -- seamless transition from the keynote to my talk in the same hall and with the infrastructure setup. No hassle faced. No pre-check required.
Ruud Cox was at my talk and made this sketch note. Thank you Ruud.


To have Keith K, Duncan N, Jokin A, Elizabeth Z, Carsten F, Mike L, Smita M, from the awesome testing community present at the talk, some of who later shared feedback was helpful. Happy to have made new friends in Corey and Soren from the tutorial day, who made it to the talk.

I sat in a few other talks through the day, most promising speakers - Elizabeth Zagroba, Ash Winter, Jokin Aspiazu and Tomislav Delalic who shared about their learning.

‘How to succeed as an introvert' I felt like I met my twin in Elizabeth - her talk was profound and I came back home inspired to share the knowledge with others around who feel stuck and challenged for being an introvert amidst the very vocal extroverts. Her talk encourages introverts to be just themselves and not necessarily cripple their introvert-ism or change for who they aren’t to grow and succeed as testers.
Knowledge on Testing below the application, hardware testing, infrastructure testing, deep diving into discussions on logistics, performance, logs, and the Star Wars themed slide designs by Ash Winter was brilliant.
Building Local Testing Community Out Of Nothing - Forming and growing a testing community, challenges faced, how to grow beyond these challenges made for an excellent learning opportunity to build a testing community around us. Very well presented by two testers Jokin and Tomislav from Spain, who make a fantastic speaking duo.
The last keynote ‘Implementing Context-Driven Testing Keeps Kicking My Ass - But I Think I'm Finally Winning!’ on implementing CDT at different organisations by Nancy Kelln was amazing. She is a rock star in the testing world, her brave and yet at times vulnerable ways of dealing with tough situations and people at work and to educate testers and others on testing call it CDT or otherwise is worthy of noting and following. And we need more Nancy Kelln 's from around the place I come from, someone who can Kick Ass and be epic about it. She is awe-inspiring, thank you program committee for bringing her to COCO.

About the conference itself:
It was a very well paced conferring experience. I found time to meet and greet many friends from the testing community at the conference - Meeting Ben Kelly and family, Janet Gregory, Martin Hynie, Ash Coleman, Smita Mishra, Mike Lyles, Helena Jeret-Mäe, Nancy Kelln, Jokin Aspiazu, Tomislav Delalic and other friends during this conferring experience was hyggelig. Testing talks during and post the conference with the other testers made it all the more worthy of being at this event despite the tons of challenges that I had to face to get to the conference. My immense gratitude and Kudos to Morten Hougaard, Duncan Nisbet, Paul Holland, Maria Kedemo, Keith Klain, Michael Bolton and others from the community who made it possible for me to be at Copenhagen Context driven testing conference 2017.

I must confess to two things here:
  1. The challenges that I faced to get myself to this conference had affected me and the talk delivered. Learned an important lesson by the end of it all to only next submit to talk at a conference, when I am holistically well placed to make it without the multitude of issues bogging me down.
  2. Amidst the hurdles, I felt home with this specific testing community. Thank you all for making this experience of conferring happen for me which helped me make worthy decision in my career and to move on and be better at my work and improve what I do. Thank you for the encouragement and for the inspiration COCO.

Until next time, keep TESTING which is synonym to learning or as Ash Winter puts it 'Testing is believing'. If you are reading this, I urge you to be at this conference to learn and share your learning on CDT with the testers who need to know about it. Special thanks to James Bach, Parimala Hariprasad, Vivien Ibiyemi, and AST without whose wise words and support this experience would not have been possible.


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