Blog: EuroSTAR Trip Report, Part 3

In the last posting, I remarked on some of the people with whom I chatted with at EuroSTAR, and whom I’m seeing as emerging leaders in a community of skilled testers. Here are a few more.

Lynn McKee (Twitter: @lynn_mckee on Twitter) gave an inspiring and very well-attended talk on how to instill passion in testers—and in how to respect and defend the passion that’s there. Lynn walks her talk; her own passion is contagious. She’s on the board of the Association for Software Testing, she’s one of the organizers of POST (a peer conference in Calgary), and she’s one of the organizers of the North American branch of Weekend Testing.  With her colleague, Nancy Kelln (@nkelln on Twitter, also one to watch), Lynn is organizing a session of Rapid Software Testing in Calgary, Alberta that I’ll be presenting in February 2011.

Zeger Van Hese (@TestSideStory on Twitter) was another of the Vanguard’s roving reporters, tweeting up a storm wherever he went with wit and skepticism.  Note that skepticism, as James Bach puts it, is not the rejection of belief, but the rejection of certainty. Zeger also has a terrific blog that I can heartily recommend. The post “Exploring Rapid Reporter” is an exemplary account of what goes through a tester’s mind in the midst of exploration. In his most recent posting, as of this writing, he’s saved me considerable time and effort by providing an excellent report of the Danish Alliance meetup. He links to Shmuel Gershon’s videos of the lightning talks, too; check them out.

It’s always good to have a local agent, and Jesper Ottosen (@jlottosen on Twitter) was Our Man in Copenhagen (along with the aforementioned Carsten Feilberg). All of us who attended the Danish Alliance meeting owes him a vote of thanks for energetically helping to promote and organize it (he said that even that was a learning experience). He also gave a lightning talk that reminded us to look for perfects as well as defects to contextualize our problem reports and to give people recognition for their good work. For so many people, compliments—supported by a visible token—matter! Jesper organized a post-Gala-dinner pub crawl and thereby helped to enable the ensuing extended conversations. Other than his sharp observations on Twitter, I’ve not been familiar with Jesper’s work, which is a problem that I’m looking forward to rectifying. One minor complication: I might have to learn Danish…

Andy Glover, the Cartoon Tester (@CartoonTester on Twitter), was one of the people that I met for the first time after admiring his work from afar. There are many ways to tell the story of testing, and cartooning can be a great way to do it; see Andy’s blog, and Rob Sabourin‘s I Am a Bug (in book and web-based versions) for wonderful examples. Andy led an interesting challenge on Tuesday night, in which he encouraged people to draw their impressions of one of James Bach‘s descriptions of testing—”the infinite art of comparing the invisible to the ambiguous to prevent the unthinkable from happening to the anonymous“. Go ahead; draw that! As a bonus, Andy sold some of his cartoons at the conference and raised a significant sum for charity.

Joris Meerts (@testingref) is someone I met only briefly. I wish we’d had more time to talk. He’s attempting to create a comprehensive historical timeline of the testing craft. I was skeptical when I first looked at Joris’ timeline; it didn’t seem to be missing a number of touchstones. One reason lies in the fact our craft doesn’t have a very good sense of history, and to my knowledge, no one has really attempted to capture it as Joris has. By the same token, it’s also a tricky problem to filter information, because so many important ideas about testing come from other disciplines. Since the conference, Joris and I have begun an email chat on the subject, and it’s clear to me that Joris is going about this very thoughtfully. I intend to do what I can to help him out, and I hope you will too.

Nathalie Rooseboom DeVries (Twitter: @FunTESTic) was another member of the conference committee. One of her roles at the conference, so it seemed, was to question and challenge the Vanguard. To some, that might look like defense of the Traditional way. To me, it looked more like a challenge to the Vanguard to test its own beliefs and practices—which is a very Vanguard thing to to. By posing challenging questions to what people (including me) were saying and tweeting, Nathalie evinced exemplary behaviour for our community. Good for her.

Petter Mattsson wasn’t presenting at EuroSTAR this year, although he has done so in the past. But he was present, and it was lovely to talk to him again. Petter is one of the senior members of the Vanguard, having delivered an experience report on exploratory testing at EuroSTAR several years before it was fashionable to do so. With his colleague Herman Afzelius, he has introduced structured, disciplined approaches to exploratory testing into two companies (and counting), and he’s been successful, despite some occasional middle-management pushback. When he’s managing and training testers, he focuses on minds before processes and tools. That’s before, not instead of: at one of the companies, he commissioned a reporting tool very much like Shmuel Gershon’s Rapid Reporter. A couple of years back, he showed me a wonderful little trick: instead of using hyphens or dots as the bullet points in your session notes, start the paragraph with a smiley emoticon for good news, and a frowny emoticon for bad news. Readers can scan the bullets to get a feel of what the tester is reporting. Instant, easy visualization! A blink test for reporting!

Kristoffer Nordström (@kristoffer_nord on Twitter) joined Petter and me in a couple of conversations. Kristoffer was one of the team leads working with Petter at UIQ Technologies when I visited there in 2008. In 2009, Petter, Herman, Kristoffer and I had a memorable Mongolian meal and a grand chat just across from Stockholm Central station, in which we described exploratory approaches, Vanguard-style values, and management resistance. Alas, we missed a chance for dinner this year, but Petter, Kristoffer, and I did compare notes on our Weltschmerz with respect to Traditionalist approaches and Traditionalist presentations in the EuroSTAR program, of which I suspect that they attended more than I did. I don’t think any of Petter, Kristoffer, or Herman have a blog. I wish they did, and if they do, I wish they’d tell me about it. Meanwhile, Kristoffer has started micro-blogging at least.

It was a pleasure to meet, finally Ola Hyltén (@ola_hylten). He attended my Tuesday morning tutorial on Test Framing, and contributed a number of valuable insights there.  (Update to this post:  I’ve just discovered, to my delight, that he’s got a blog here.  And in the most recent post, he’s writing on a topic that is near and dear to me:  parallels between testing and music.)

John Stevenson (@steveo1967) was also a keen contributor at the tutorial. John is a dedicated student of exploratory testing and systems thinking, and he writes a blog in he which stretches thinking about testing outside of the craft, which I argue is essential to advancing it. As examples of his wide-ranging perspective, look at his two posts inspired by EuroSTAR: The Human Element and Sorting the Chaff from the Wheat.

Rob Lambert (@Rob_Lambert) is one of the central figures in the Software Testing Club, an online community that provides some of the more articulate discussions on testing these days. That effort has spilled over into The Testing Planet, a periodical testing newspaper of the physical kind (remember newspapers?  News, printed on paper?). Rob is a very conscientious fellow, sharp at spotting flaws but also ready to see the good and the salvageable in the things that he observes. I admire that.

Anko Tijman (@agiletesternl) is a passionate advocate for agile approaches, and maintains a strong focus on the first phrase in the Agile Manifesto: individuals and interactions. He also frequently advocates something that I don’t think is always prominent in the Agile community: an emphasis on diversity in testing. He’s written a book that is as yet, only available in Nederlandese (Dutch), and he has a blog that he diligently updates, well, not very often at all. So the key, apparently, is to find him at a conference, see one of his presentations and chat with him, or to follow him on Twitter.

There are still at least two more EuroSTAR missives to go. More later!

Want to know more? Learn about Rapid Software Testing classes here.

One response to “EuroSTAR Trip Report, Part 3”

  1. Thank you for your kind mentioning, Michael. It is easy to raise to a challenge in such an inspiring company.

    Most of my public writing is on twitter and in comments here & there. I also run an internal testing blog. All the work is in English 😉

    Read up on Anders Dinsen’s great elaboration on “finding the perfects”:

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