Belgian Exploratory Workshop on Testing 2018

I'm going through some old conference notes again, with the aim to eventually get rid of them all. Today's edition comes to you from the Belgian Exploratory Workshop on Testing in December of 2018. Being invited to one of the most charming cities in the world to talk shop with experts from around Europe was...pretty much my dream scenario when I'd moved to this continent a few months earlier in 2018.

Coaching mindset and role definition are common themes throughout the presentations. They're also top-of-mind for me now, during performance review season, and as I shift from filling in for testers missing around the department back to thinking more holistically about our teams and products again.

Vera Baum

Vera spoke about the learning process, specifically helping coach testers on their learning journey. Learning should not be an incentive or a punishment. The advantage of not being a manager is that people were able to set learning goals without fearing they're not focusing enough on their day-to-day work. Learning goals were set more clearly for people earlier in their career, they need more of a scaffold.

Aleksandra Korencka

Aleksandra spoke about how to be a leader without a leadership title. Even making a checklist of simple things to think about for every release helped her colleagues in the their regression testing. For Aleksandra:

  • seniority = freedom + responsibility + impact
  • experience = (people x technical) intuition

She went through the process of creating a testing manifesto; an inspirational vision for her team. The process of creating the manifesto proved to be more valuable than the written document itself.

Shanteel (I apologize for not writing down your last name)

Shanteel was in a spot where their developers were undervaluing testing, because everyone sees other people's jobs as easier than their own. To shift their mindset, the group discussion pointed them towards building relationships with a few allies who can help cause a revolt when the time is right.

Marcel Gehlen

Marcel found that he had more influence over testing as a manager than he did as a tester. The people in his department could test what they thought a customer needed instead of just the software. Testers did stuff that "shouldn't be done"; they "cheated". Plus they got more visibility when they had an advocate higher up in the org chart.

I also gave an experience report. It was about a certain project manager from a previous company who was so distracting and forgetful that we had to work around him. I scheduled shadow meetings that we hid from the project manager so the my developers and I could make real progress. The project manager's name became the go-to insult for the rest of the conference. :)

Shoutout to Beren Van Daele for organizing BREWT in the coziest conference location. I could have spent the whole week in that library/lounge. I am always accepting good (or even bad!) reasons to go back to Ghent and have some decent stoverij.