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Experience Report Provided by: Kristjan Uba

Date: 16-18 March, 2012
Location: Tallinn, Estonia
Twitter: #PEST2 
Web: http://www.testerstower.com/

PEST2 = 9 peers from 6 companies for 2 days with infinite amount of good ideas.
Not counting the beers and fun.

The conference theme was “Taking one for the team.”

Ideas discussed at this peer conference include: fighting boredom, understanding your team and knowing your team members. Other topics covered were: dealing with situations when you’re forced to use certain tools, ideas to keep your team motivated (and what makes them unmotivated), as well as thoughts for team leads to keep your team healthy.

Details about the event:

March 16th, 19:33, Local Pub.

Seemed like just another Friday evening, unless you examined closely. The air was full of witty banter, challenges and yet unsolved puzzles. A good start for a peer conference.

March 17th, 09:27, Conference room.

Cluttering of tea and coffee mugs faded away. Check-in had started. Now it was time for action.

Given the main theme, “Taking one for the team,” the experience reports and discussions evolved around test teams. Teams: working in one, managing one or creating one. The following questions started the open season (links below navigate to blog posts containing the summary of our answers):

The content owner, Kristjan Uba, drove most of the threads to fit the general theme, but some were just too interesting to rat-hole. And few so interesting that coffee breaks were extended to let people talk about them.

The open season was facilitated by Oliver Vilson. He kept us all in order when one thread was being divided into 3 new ones and everyone wanted to speak at the same time.

March 18th, 15:54.

Checkout is finishing. People are getting into starting positions to race for the cake. Oliver uses distraction to get the lead, by shouting “PEST3 is already being prepared, be ready in October!”

Highlights:

Six of PEST2 highlights in no particular order. Some of the very good ideas were too big to fit into highlights and can be read from blog posts on the web.

Highlight #1

When you are being ordered to use a tool (in a certain way) then the best way to fight against it – is not to fight (at first):

  • Instead, learn it. Find out what it can do. And what it can’t do.
  • Investigate, if it can used in a way that would fit your process.
  • Then you can support your fight against it with good evidence.
  • If you start off with great hostility you will be flagged as troublemaker, whiner, and you will not be taken seriously.

Highlight #2

Motivation – has both absolute and relative scale (for each person):

  • It is relative to previous value for that person in regard of time.
  • It has absolute value to that person (high to low).

Highlight #3

Eliminating human interactions as much as possible is apparently very good for highly specialized, after development, code testing for highly critical back-end core system maintenance.

Highlight #4

People/teams are most often unmotivated by confusion, try to answer the following:

  • So what exactly are we going to do?
  • What is the goal of our work?
  • How exactly is that useful?
  • What resources are we going to have/need for this project?
  • How long are we going to go on with this?

Highlight #5

Coaching trick:

If you want to know you have been understood, summarize it incorrectly and see if they point it out.

If not, then you know they did not get it, or are too shy to show you made a mistake. Either way
there is more coaching to do.

Highlight #6

Team-leads, to have a healthy team (more about this in web):

  • Share boring tasks equally over all members.
  • Have a Bug Chase Competition from time-to-time:
    • “Be the first to find a reproducing sequence for specific intermittent bug.”
    • after 30 minutes, no-one wins. Back to work.
  • Remember that you are not “number 1“ in the team, but there to help the team forward. You back them up  and defend from external troubles.

Official List of Participants

  •     Oliver Vilson (Facilitator)
  •     Kristjan Uba (Content owner)
  •     Rasmus Koorits
  •     Ervin Hülp
  •     Helena Jeret-Mäe
  •     Raimond Sinivee
  •     Aare Nurm
  •     Ülar Aasmäe
  •     Harles Paesüld

Supporting participant (could not be present at PEST2):

  •     Aire Kurgpõld
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