TCWST Participants – Robert Barnard, Steve Beyer, Nick Talantis, Wade Wachs
The initial goal of TCWST was to investigate the statement “Software testing is a creative process.”
The goal behind that theme was to awaken testers in the Traverse City area to the great amount of
enjoyment that is available in the testing profession by teaching them and listening to their journeys on
that creative path. I was also looking to create a testing community around my team of testers to build
their engagement in the craft and their tasks on our project. After looking far and wide for excited and
engaged testers to come build the energy of my team, I found all of the passion I needed in my own
The date came for TCWST and the entire guest list consisted of my team at Northpointe. Not wanting
to allow the workshop to be defeated by a lack of outside attendance, I made the decision to carry on.
Each member of the team was asked to prepare a short presentation and be ready to discuss with the
team afterwards. Based on prior conversations with my team about testing, I had concerns about the
conversation being short and the workshop being a flop. I am so glad I was wrong.
After the first 20-minute presentation, the conversation continued for almost 2 hours. There were great
ideas flowing for improvements to our product, and our testing processes. All members of the team were
engaged in the discussion and involved in debate. With only 4 hours initially planned for the workshop,
the new concern was that there would be insufficient time for all the discussion to take place.
The workshop continued seamlessly for over 5 hours. Each member of the team presented about their
understanding of the creativity involved in testing and how that applies to their work. While I hoped the
group would learn something about testing during the conversation, I noticed a greater lesson being
absorbed. The team was learning far more about being a team than we were about testing theory.
Don’t get me wrong, there were still great lessons learned about testing. The group coined the
phrase ‘Custom Testing’ as an alternative to ‘Manual’ or ‘Human’ testing. Apart from that however, much
of the discussion was nothing new to the testing community as a whole. However, I think the lesson to
share with the community as a whole is what we learned as a team that day.
Each member of our group presented from their perspective of software testing. At the end of the day,
four presentations gave us four very different views of what software testing can be. As we learned how the
other members of the team viewed testing there was a bond formed in our team that will server us well in
the coming months.
We learned of areas of the project, and workflows that some testers prefer or detest. We learned of some
biases, weaknesses, and strengths of the team members, and noticed ways that those differences in the
team complement each other perfectly. Most importantly for me, we learned that each and every member
of the team was passionate enough about what we do to take the time to prepare enough talking points to
fill 20 minutes of time talking about testing. In our discussion we learned that we are all committed to the
job we do and share in some common bond as a team to do that job well.
For me, this has been a great boost. I have spent some time worrying about the perceived disinterest of
some of my testers. I have been pushing to see more passion in my team, only to realize they already
had the passion, I just hadn’t seen it. Having spent those few hours listening to my team I now ave a
renewed faith that we are all working together. TCWST seems to have met the goal of engaging my team
in software testing. I thought I needed to bring outside people into the team to create that engagement,
but it seems they had everything they needed already, TCWST simply was an environment where I could
This is the message that I would deliver to the members of the software testing community, be engaged.
For me, in the last 2 months that engagement meant planning a workshop on testing. For you, that may
mean starting a blog, attending a meetup group, starting a meetup group, participating in discussions
online, or any number of other worthy pursuits. If you have a passion for software testing then get out
there in the community and share it. Share that passion with others so they can find that passion within
themselves. This will cause our craft to continue to grow and make the testing community better for all of