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What I’ve learned at Agile Testing Days 2022

Before diving into it

I could have make a nice and polished blog post about this very important subject. But then it would have been an excuse for perfectionism and having this post published somewhere in 2023 and me still unsatisfied about it, the guilt of having postponed so much on top of it.

So instead, I just put all my ideas as they came to mind. You’ll have one per point so it’s not just a messy blob to read. Also, this is what I bring home with me. My interpretations of the sessions I attended to and the discussions I’ve had. Not a summary of what the speakers said. My really own interpretation. So some of the things can have been distorted by my brain. Don’t judge the speakers if I got the wrong thing from a talk.

That being said, let’s go!

Imposter syndrom

Winning with imposter syndrome: a community effort” by Veerle Verhagen & Lisa Crispin

I put this first because it’s the one that allows you to read this blog post. I hide behind the fact that I didn’t have the time for it or nothing interesting to say anyway. Who am I to think that I can teach something to someone or that someone cares about what I think?

But thanks to Lisa Crispin and Veerle Verhagen workshop and to all the attendees, I’ve learned that Impostor Syndrome can be defeated. We should just talk more about it. Having this brainstorming workshop made me confident enough to open this blog and write this post. Because knowing that even people who are doing things I admire have it, makes it loose its power. Finally, it’s just an annoying voice trying to bring us down. And I decide that I will not let it win.

This feeling was reinforced by all the great discussions I had during the conference. Through them, I’ve learned that what I know can have value for others. Even the tiny things can sometime create Eureka moments for your interlocutor. You don’t have to know it all. Sharing offers new perspectives, new angles and open a new horizon for the person you’re talking to. It’s enough to make what you know and what you think valuable.

That’s why I decided to share what I learned again.

Measurements can be a tool for good

How (Not) to Measure Quality” talk by Michael Kutz

I developed this one in this dedicated article because it was really impactful for me. But just for you know, I hated metrics or measurements before attending this AgileTD edition. I learned there, that it was because I’ve always seen them use in a wrong way. What I recall from the awesome talk of Michael Kutz, the enthusiasm of Gwen Diagram about metrics and the discussions I’ve had, it’s that they are a great tool if you know why you are measuring and if you are measuring the right thing to answer the first question. You have to start with a goal, then ask the questions that you need to answer, then choose the metrics you’ll need. Do not start with the metrics in mind or you’ll fall in Goodhart’s law.

Leadership is not the same as management

Let’s lead quality together!” tutorial day by Lisi Hocke & Toyer Mamoojee

You can be a leader without being a manager. I still think that every manager should be great leaders though.

Don’t avoid those difficult conversations. The more you wait, the more they’re becoming difficult to have, the more the outcome is likely to be unhappy. Listen to what others have to say. Listen truly. If someone misbehaved, they surely have their reasons and contexts. Meet them where they are.

Adapt your way of approaching things depending on context. They are different ways to be a leader, which one will you pick for this particular situation of yours?

Lead by example. Be consistent. Build trust.

Learning means to fail, accept it

Creating a Culture of Learning” keynote by Vincent Wijnen & Huib Schoots

Failures are a necessity and are inevitable. Staying away from them is keeping us from discover, knowledge, sharing. Embrace them, they’re the proof that you learned something.

Also, to truly learn something you have to have a need for it and practice. Engage with all your senses and with your emotions. That helps the knowledge you are receiving to stick into your mind. Every part of your brain is involved.

Know yourself, be yourself, be vulnerable, stay true to your values

From the whole conference, really. And also through those keynotes:
Living Fearlessly – While living with fear” by Lena Wiberg
Be an AND. Not an OR:” by Melissa Sassi

Only you as you really are can add value to this world. Being a weirdo shows to other that it is possible to be one. And that’s magic! After all, we all are a weirdo for someone else.

I mean think about other cultures. The one that are really different from yours. Aren’t the people from them doing things that’s normal for them and really, really, strange for you? Did they apologize from it all the time? No!
Be your own country.
Fight for your values and inner culture. Show them to the world as if you were in a tourism exhibition. Be proud of who you are.

Also, know your fears. The real ones. Not the stories you tell yourself. Because only then you can accept them and make the choice to work through and overcome them or let them be. But at least you will be able to make an informed choice.

Escape the drama triangle

Any dramatic elephants in the room?” keynote by Martijn Nas

The drama triangle : Persecutor, Savior, Victim exists at work. It leads to ineffective communication as it is attached to the reptilian brain. The one from which you are reacting instinctively without thinking.

To go out of this sometimes defective triangle, we have to go above the line and act in another triangle where :

The Persecutor becomes a Challenger
The Savior becomes a Coach
And the victim becomes a Creator

The Challenger , well, challenge things and give the power to the team
The Coach respond and give affirmations. He helps by listening to other, not by giving solutions.
The Creator asks questions, build and owns. It’s a switch from “I can’t do anything” to “I act on my problems and find my solutions for myself”

It is our responsibility to get out of the drama triangle. But sometimes, you need to get back to it and maybe be a persecutor. To shake things, create a shock so the team moves. We can’t always be in a virtuous triangle. The goal is to not be trapped in it and be conscient of which triangle you’re currently playing in.

We have a bigger responsibility than just ensure the product works

Human Impact“, replaced and/or mixed with “What could go wrong” keynote by Fiona Charles

As a tester we should also worried about the impacts it will have in the real world. Who are the true stakeholders?
Through terrifying examples where softwares and/or bugs have ruined lives of people, Fiona showed us that it is our responsibility to know for who we work and for what. Do we really want to build a software designed to hurt someone? It is our role to question and challenge decisions and behaviors the product team want to add. It is our role to see the bigger picture and find the true stakeholders of our product. Who this product will truly impact?
We want to build softwares that enable and enhance human capabilities, not to replace them.

It was not the funniest keynote. But a truly necessary one.

Avoid the bullshitisation of your job

Bullshit alert! On The Bullshitisation of Software Testing” by Maaike Brinkhof

Inspired by the book “Bullshit jobs” by David Graeber, Maaike asked the question, what about Software Testing? And answered that if software testing is not a bullshit job per say. It’s sometimes being bullshitised.

Who haven’t been asked for a non sense report? Or doing tasks that add no value neither to you, neither to the team or the product?

It’s our responsibility to denounce these tasks and inform why we are not going to do them. It’s our responsibility to stay away from the bullshitisation of jobs.

Build the tools you need, let them grow and have their own life

My crafting project became critical infrastructure” talk by Elizabeth Zagroba

Sometimes what you’re doing for yourself can serve a bigger purpose. You can feel overwhelmed and loose control over it. But it’s ok to let it go. Let this idea of yours have it’s own life. And so, don’t be afraid to take the time to do those little projects that could improve your daily life, and don’t be shy, talk about them. Maybe you’ll help others too.

And last but not least :

Powerpoint roulette aka Powerpoint Karaoke

Powerpoint Roulette” animated by Vincent Wijnen

The principle: Vincent built a powerpoint presentation generator. Each presentation has 1 title slide, 5 slides with content and 1 thank you slide. Each slide is built randomly with some text, pictures or graphs.

So when you go on stage, nobody knows what you’ll talk about, even you. And the result of this randomly generated talks is more than often totally absurd or questionnable in a sense of ethic and you have to improvise on this.

What a really funny thing to do! I laugh so hard to the diffrent presentations!
I want to do that at my company! It should be a great training for public speaking and improvising in case of technical issues when doing a talk 😅

Thank you Agile Testing Days 2022 people for another great event!

What I like the most about this conference, it’s that it’s not just another conference about testing. It’s unicornland. It’s a place where diversity and inclusion have a meaning. Where the social aspect of being together is taken really seriously. I had amazing talks with the attendees about work, life and other stuff. I like this conference because it’s not just about how to perform at work. It’s about how can we be better humans so we can be better at work.

Thank you.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading me. If you have questions or want to discuss some points, I’d be more than happy to have a chat!





One response to “What I’ve learned at Agile Testing Days 2022”

  1. […] Testing Days 2022 – The Unicorn Land We Build Together‘ and Stéphanie Desby ‘What I’ve learned at Agile Testing Days 2022‘. They already cover a lot of the remarkable sessions – and really, I think there’s […]

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