Choose One Thing: Copenhagen Context 2017

All of the talks I attended at Copenhagen Context included this message: change one thing. Try something, see what happens, and go from there. It’s good advice, but it can be hard when it feels like everything needs changing at once.

Copenhagen, in context

In a lightning talk, Huib Schoots identified one thing every tester can change: practice test reporting.

Keith Klain told us how to kick off a change at an organization: choose one thing, and stop doing it. Stop fear-based management; consider how people are motivated and compensated. Stop focusing on your process; consider the business value of what you’re building. Stop assuming every problem is a technical problem; look inward when the information you provide isn’t valued. Keith picked on test managers who didn’t do much hands-on testing in particular, which was interesting to hear in a room full of test managers I work for. I heard Keith give this talk a few months ago, but there was enough to take away that I still have two pages of notes (different from the last time) full of new ideas to consider.

Jyothi Rangaiah spoke about gathering requirements. Rather than wait for other roles to write a story, Jyothi suggest one thing testers can change: start suggesting requirements. Go to the development architecture meeting. Setup a three amigos meeting. Considering all the things testers can do that aren’t listed in their job description, and you’ll start looking to hire passionate people who can fulfill more that just the requirements.

This is what 'prepared' looks like.

I spoke about being an introvert. This seemed to be the biggest takeaway from the talk, which luckily is something you can change:

When Ash Winter’s devops team wanted to upgrade all of their products at once, Ash suggested they choose one product and upgrade that first. Rather than shouldering the burden of testing all the products, a small safe-to-fail experiment would give the team enough information to decide if they should proceed. Ash’s talk was about infrastructure testing, and he noted that testers tend to identify infrastructure problems at the wrong level: in the application. If he had to choose one thing to look at to diagnose issues better, it would be production logs.

Helena Jeret-Mäe spoke about observing your process. She suggested changing one thing and taking notes. She described Jerry Weinberg’s MOI(J) model for teamwork, where the J is for jiggling, or changing one thing. To improve your process, Helena recommended slowing down and stepping away from your default. By challenging your interpretations and considering other explanations, you can more effectively deal with difficult situations.

Nancy Kelln told a great story about “Nancy-driven development,” or when she tried to change a testing process all at once. When people gave her advice and templates to direct her, she realized she had no credibility and she needed to change one thing instead of changing all the things.

I’m so grateful for the time I got to spend learning from the speakers and attendees at Copenhagen Context. It was a pleasure to spend time with my tester friends from around the world. It’s a testament to the hard work of the organizers that there were no duds of presentations, and I missed many worthwhile talks.

Back at the office this week, I resolved to change one thing: I want to get better at sharing knowledge with my colleagues. What’s the one thing you’re going to change?

Statue in Nørrebro, Copenhagen

Originally published on Medium.