Cambridge Lean Coffee (Hiccupps)

On April 26, 2017, in Syndicated, by Association for Software Testing

This month’s Lean Coffee was hosted by DisplayLink. Here’s some brief, aggregated comments and questions  on topics covered by the group I was in.

How to spread knowledge between testers in different teams, and how often should people rotate between teams?

  • How to know what is the right length of time for someone to spend in a team?
  • When is someone ready to move on?
  • How do you trade off e.g. good team spirit against overspecialisation?
  • When should you push someone out of their comfort zone, show them how much they don’t know?
  • Fortnightly test team meetings playing videos of conference talks.
  • Secondment to other teams.
  • Lean Coffee for the test team.
  • Daily team standup, pairing, weekly presentations, ad hoc sharing sessions after standup.
  • Is there a desire to share?
  • Yes. Well, they all want to know more about what the others do.
  • People don’t want to be doing the same thing all the time.
  • Could you rotate the work in the team rather than rotate people out of the team?
  • It might be harder to do in scenarios where each team is very different, e.g. in terms of technologies being tested.
  • There are side-effects on the team too.
  • There can’t be a particular standard period of time after which a switch is made – the team, person, project etc must be taken into account too.
  • Can you rotate junior testers around teams to gain breadth of experience?

What piece of testing wisdom would you give to a new tester?

  • Be aware of communities of practice. Lots of people have been doing this for years.
  • … for over 50 years, in fact, and a lot of what the early testers were doing is still relevant today.
  • There is value in not knowing – because you can ask questions no-one else is asking.
  • Always trust your instinct and gut when you’re trying to explore a new feature or an area.
  • Learn to deal with complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity. You need to be able to operate in spite of them.
  • Learn about people. You will be working with them.
  • … and don’t forget that you are a person too.
  • Use the knowledge of the experienced testers around you. Ask questions. Ask again.
  • Make a list of what could be tested, and how much each item matters to relevant stakeholders.
  • Pick skills and practice them.

Where you look from changes what you see.

  • I was testing a server (using an unfamiliar technology) from a client machine and got a result I wasn’t sure was reasonable.
  • … after a while I switched to another client and got a different result.
  • Would a deeper technical understanding have helped?
  • Probably. In analogous cases where I have expertise I can more easily think about what factors are likely to be important and what kinds of scenarios I might consider.
  • Try to question everything that you see: am I sure? How could I disprove this?
  • Ask what assumptions are being made.
  • What you look at changes what you see: we had an issue which wasn’t repeatable with what looked like a relevant export from the database, only with the whole database.
  • Part of the skill of testing is finding comparison points.
  • Can you take an expert’s perspective, e.g. by co-opting an expert.

Using mindmaps well for large groups of test cases.

  • With such a large mindmap I can’t see the whole thing at once.
  • Do you want to see the whole thing at once?
  • I want to organised mindmaps so that I can expand sub-trees independently because they aren’t overly related.
  • Is wanting to see everything a smell? Perhaps that the structure isn’t right?
  • Perhaps it’s revealing an unwarranted degree of complexity in the product.
  • Or in your thinking.
  • A mindmap is your mindmap. It should exist to support you.
  • What are you trying to visualise?
  • Could you make it bigger?
  • Who is the audience?
  • I don’t like to use a mindmap to keep track of project progress (e.g. with status).
  • I like a mindmap to get thoughts down
  • I use a mindmap to keep track of software dependencies.

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