The Testbash legacy

In my previous post I waxed lyrical about #Testbash 2016, and rightly so.

Having had a couple of weeks since attending, I think I can put my finger on what made the event so successful:

  • Friendliness
  • Great locations around Brighton
  • The atmosphere
  • Everyone having fun and joining in
  • The legacy it has left.

I want to tackle the last one – the amazing amount of posts on Linked-In and Twitter from presenters and attendees who are all following up their visit with practical action – and that is exactly what we should be doing. if we attend a conference and then go home and apply nothing, then we have missed an opportunity to grow.

I brought back three things to try:

  1. Lean Coffee,
  2. Tester pairing,
  3. Understanding how to better work with distributed teams.

1. Lean Coffee

I had heard of this, although had no idea what it meant, so on Friday 11th March at 8am, I joined a queue of people going in to a large Theatre in central Brighton. Most people at that time of the morning had their focus on the coffee (as did I), but we quickly found ourselves sitting around tables with pens and post-it notes, self-organising our own session. I am not going to describe in detail here what it is, only that within 20 minutes we all got the concept, and spent just over an hour discussing many interesting topics, and as a group instinctivley knowing when it was time to move on to the next one.

So….I brought it into work. I run monthly Test Team meetings,m and as my team expands (currently 7 testers, and will be 10 soon), it is useful for testers from 2 locations working on different products to get together, and share ideas, best practices etc. We do a retrospective, and I changed it to a Lean Coffee Retro, explaining how it works, and we managed to get through 4 topics that had the most votes. I asked the team if they wanted to continue, and they said yes to doing this monthly, so thats my first post Testbash success!

2. Tester pairing

I have to thank Katrina Clokie @katrina_tester for her great talk on how she introduced a pilot cross training scheme back in her native New Zealand. The idea of cross training is something that I am very conscious of, but have struggled to really get sorted out in an organised way. Katrina explained a simple but effective way to do this, by having testers spend an hour with other testers on a bi-weekly basis, with the hour structured to enable both testers to have hands-on time (see I raised this with our Technology VP and am pleased to say I have the green light to implement this – and the testers in the team are really up for this as well, so thats my second post Testbash success!

3. Working with distributed teams

My colleague Bhagya was at the same session as me, and you can read a full account here so I wont repeat the session, however having sat in on the offshore team whilst Bhagya was on the corresponding onshore team, we both decided to run an in-house session given how much we learned from it. In fact Bhagya is so keen she has already contacted Lisa Crispin @lisacrispin and Abby Bangser @a_bangser to obtain the materials needed. Again, Idiscuss with my Technology VP what the benefits would be to our teams and I am really pleased to have his backing to run this course, so thats my third post Testbash success! Now we just have to make it work!! I think the challenge will be putting ourselves in the position of Lisa and Abby as Product Managers in order to run this successfully.


The next month will need some time to set these things up, around my day job (which is split between Test Management and Product Management), but thats part of the fun, I really want to do this as it would make such a difference. We write and talk a lot in the industry about trying new things and not standing still, and I really feel that this year will be the one where the testers in my team will see a noticable difference in their roles, helping them to grow in confidence, skills and to be better all round testers because of it.

So, once again, thanks to Rosie Sherry @rosiesherry and her team for organising a fantastic event, which is leaving a legacy

Take it as read that I will post a follow up to these three items to let you know how we get on.

#Testbash #legacy #alwayslearning




Why I am glad I went to Testbash 2016

This is a short post as I want to get something out there tonight, but suffice to say that my first Testbash visit was fantastic, and I dont want to miss out on the opportunity to tell you why.

If I said that the morning session from yesterday was an absolute eye opener, I would not be exaggerating. “Building Quality in With Distributed Teams – Lisa Crispin & Abby Bangser” was the name of the session and I have to say that I was totally unprepared for the format and what I would take away from it.

I had in my mind a session where Lisa and Abby would be telling us about their experiences and we would probably have a Q&A time and share our problems etc. But no. It was much more fun than that! We split into two groups, and each group then split into two halves, with one half being the onshore team, and the other the offshore team. I deliberately chose to be in the offshore team to experience what it would be like. We were physically located in a different room, and had restrictions on how and when we could communicate. There were 3 sprints to perform tasks, with all decisions coming from the onshore team. I think it is fair to say that all of us in the offshore team were amazed at how little information we received, the assumptions that were made about how much we knew, the fact that we didnt really know what the bigger picture was and how it felt as though we were just being given scraps of work to do.

In a few weeks I will do this justice in more detail, but I must share that the biggest takeaway for me is that by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, you can learn an immense amount about their situation. This can apply to anyone working with distributed teams, and as testers we can also put ourselves in the role of the end user, or the BA, or the developer to understand their pressures and focus. A lot of food for thought, thank you Lisa and Abby!

Today’s conference day was full of great talks too, and I love the fact that I can come away with practical ideas to try back at work (as well as the conference T-shirt and other goodies!).

So – more to come as I have a number of ideas that require more work after the last 2 days, so watch this space!