The following is an Experience Report submitted by Duncan Nisbet, who convened a peer workshop I earlier this month, and was supported by the AST Grant Program.
The 3rd installment of the North West Exploratory Workshop on Testing (NWEWT) has wrapped up & I’ve now had time to reflect on the awesomeness that has come to pass. Many thanks to the NWEWT 3 Attendees: Ash Winter, Chris Chant, Gwen Diagram, Ian Smith, James Hattersley-Dykes, Jitesh Gosai, Marc Muller, Matt Bretton, Matthew Parker, Mike Van de Waal, Patrick Prill, Tim Fretwell & Vernon Richards
The theme this year was “Innovation in Testing” with the following questions as primers:
- What do you think are the next big ideas in testing?
- What challenges to effective testing are you facing in your current role?
- What testing related experiments are you trying to keep up with the changes in software development?
We decided to open the invites to a wider range of job titles and consequently we ended up having Testers, Developers in Test, Backend Developers & a Head of Innovation!
As you can imagine, the subject of the experience reports was diverse, including testability, continuous testing, testing perspective on mobbing, testing in DevOps, VR test strategy, API Testing with Postman, Machine Learning & testing, surviving the 4th revolution as a Tester and a discussion of Alan & Brent’s Modern Testing Principles.
We ran an experiment with the Modern Testing Principles discussion – we didn’t use the K-cards! Instead, the conversation was largely facilitated & directed by the speaker himself. My role as the facilitator was merely as timekeeper as we constrained discussion by limiting the time for each principle. After the allotted time for a principle, we could discuss the principle for a further 2 minutes if the group wanted to follow the energy of that discussion. Otherwise we moved onto the next principle.
The result of the experiment was a resounding success & opened us up to other experiments we’d like to run in the future (more on this later…)
Another variations to the format was the presence of a VR unit – attendees got to experience 1st hand the physical reactions to “testing” VR games that the speaker was talking about in their experience report (with hilarious results!)
We also introduced the concept of a “Dinner Card” (instead of the “Beer Card” as not everyone drinks beer). If the energy in the room wasn’t following a particular thread, those still interested added a post-it to the “Dinner Card” board indicating to the speaker that they wished to continue the conversation later over dinner. There was much merriment around the is dinner an evening or daytime meal conundrum?
At the end of the peer conference, we spent a significant amount of time reflecting on the events of the weekend using the Stop, Start, Continue, More of, Less of retrospective format.
These are the big ideas that came out of that retro that we intend to experiment with next year:
- Explore new venues
- Current venue struggled to accommodate some of our attendees needs (even after being advised of those needs)
- Increase diversity of attendees
- There was a noticeable lack of diversity in the room & we addressed it head on
- Grow the NWEWT team to be more diverse
- Change the way invitations are distributed
- Larger NWEWT team should give us a larger pool of thought leaders to pick from
- Send invitations sooner so we can cast the net wider
- Shake up the format
- More K-cardless sessions
- Less 40 + 20 mins sessions
- More 10 x 5 mins sessions (like the Modern Testing Principles session)
- Introduce energiser workshop after lunch / late afternoon
- More talks with no slides
- Increase Facilitators
- Rotate the facilitator role among NWEWT team
- Rotate the facilitator role among attendees
- Increase variety of food
- Wider choice for Vegans
- Less sugary snacks
- More healthy snacks
- Increase sponsorship
- Some invitees turned down NWEWT due to cost
- This is contra to my belief that self development should be accessible – cost shouldn’t be a barrier
- Need to explore what potential sponsors want in return
- Some invitees turned down NWEWT due to cost
Overall, it was another weekend of deep discussion into software testing which always leaves me with the weird sensation of being totally mentally exhausted whilst being physically energised & ready for more!
Can’t wait for NWEWT #4 next year – some really interesting experiments to try out!
This fabulous event wouldn’t be possible without the tremendous participation of the attendees & their willingness to share & trust, nor without the continued support of the Association for Software Testing.
Thank you to all.