Joe Blogs: A Meeting (Hiccupps)

On May 10, 2016, in Syndicated, by Association for Software Testing

After Neil Younger’s talk on Lean Coffee for team meetings at the Cambridge Tester Meetup last night, we ran a Lean Coffee session. These are my notes on the topics we covered:

How do you teach testing?

  • The question was set up on the premise that “you can teach/there is a lot of available material for software development, but not so much for testing”. 
  • This was disputed: was the assertion confusing (availability of material for) learning programming languages with being able to program or being a good developer?
  • When teaching or coaching testing, particularly to non-testers, a detective metaphor is useful.
  • Testing is about a problem-solving mindset … but so is programming, right?

How do you keep up with technology?

  • When your product uses or interacts with some new technology, how do you get up to speed with it?
  • How do you get sufficient depth to be able to talk to experts on your team?
  • Testing is about learning, whether it’s your product or some new technology. Use your testing skills.
  • Learn in small increments, by using the thing you are learning about. 
  • Talk to the experts, probe their knowledge and learn from them. Use your context-free testing skills to try to find cracks in their knowledge, your implementation of the technology etc.
  • Be aware that you’ll never know everything about all technologies.
  • Look for meta knowledge: over time you’ll see similarities across technologies.
  • Do a Google search for e.g. failures in others’ use of the technology and look for analogous cases in your context.

How do you unblock yourself?

  • When you’re out of ideas, how do you get a fresh perspective?
  • Pair with a colleague, or even swap roles with a colleague.
  • “Unthink” by going for a walk, removing all your distractions, doing a different piece of work.
  • Look for patterns in your blockages and try to break them. Perhaps you’re always blocked at just before lunch?
  • Use a different way of getting ideas out, e.g. a mindmap if you’re usually a list person.
  • Wear a different hat, Use personas to spur ideas.
  • Stop overthinking! Perhaps you are just finished.
  • Use mnemonics, checklists.
  • Look at historical data for the thing you are testing (bug reports, charters, meeting notes, user stories etc).
  • Find a different way in to the problem, e.g. start the application a different way, with a different browser, on a different OS, with the mouse set up so the buttons are backwards etc.

Why did you come tonight?

  • Because it was Neil talking.
  • To learn more about Lean Coffee.
  • Interested in facilitation techniques.
  • To try something different.
  • To make connections to other local testers; I work on my own.
  • Needed something to do in the evenings.
  • To find some different ways of doing things.
  • To have a forum to ask questions.
  • For those Eureka! moments – there’s always one.
  • To get inspiration.
  • To speak to other testers about testing.
  • Research, to speak to testers about the tools they use.
  • To see whether the hype about tester meetups is justified.

… and did you get what you wanted out of it?

  • Yes!

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