Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Cambridge Lean Coffee

This month's Lean Coffee was hosted by DisplayLink. Here's some brief, aggregated comments and questions  on topics covered by the group I was in.

How to spread knowledge between testers in different teams, and how often should people rotate between teams?

  • How to know what is the right length of time for someone to spend in a team?
  • When is someone ready to move on?
  • How do you trade off e.g. good team spirit against overspecialisation?
  • When should you push someone out of their comfort zone, show them how much they don't know?
  • Fortnightly test team meetings playing videos of conference talks.
  • Secondment to other teams.
  • Lean Coffee for the test team.
  • Daily team standup, pairing, weekly presentations, ad hoc sharing sessions after standup.
  • Is there a desire to share?
  • Yes. Well, they all want to know more about what the others do.
  • People don't want to be doing the same thing all the time.
  • Could you rotate the work in the team rather than rotate people out of the team?
  • It might be harder to do in scenarios where each team is very different, e.g. in terms of technologies being tested.
  • There are side-effects on the team too.
  • There can't be a particular standard period of time after which a switch is made - the team, person, project etc must be taken into account too.
  • Can you rotate junior testers around teams to gain breadth of experience?

What piece of testing wisdom would you give to a new tester?

  • Be aware of communities of practice. Lots of people have been doing this for years.
  • ... for over 50 years, in fact, and a lot of what the early testers were doing is still relevant today.
  • There is value in not knowing - because you can ask questions no-one else is asking.
  • Always trust your instinct and gut when you're trying to explore a new feature or an area.
  • Learn to deal with complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity. You need to be able to operate in spite of them.
  • Learn about people. You will be working with them.
  • ... and don't forget that you are a person too.
  • Use the knowledge of the experienced testers around you. Ask questions. Ask again.
  • Make a list of what could be tested, and how much each item matters to relevant stakeholders.
  • Pick skills and practice them.

Where you look from changes what you see.

  • I was testing a server (using an unfamiliar technology) from a client machine and got a result I wasn't sure was reasonable.
  • ... after a while I switched to another client and got a different result.
  • Would a deeper technical understanding have helped?
  • Probably. In analogous cases where I have expertise I can more easily think about what factors are likely to be important and what kinds of scenarios I might consider.
  • Try to question everything that you see: am I sure? How could I disprove this?
  • Ask what assumptions are being made.
  • What you look at changes what you see: we had an issue which wasn't repeatable with what looked like a relevant export from the database, only with the whole database.
  • Part of the skill of testing is finding comparison points.
  • Can you take an expert's perspective, e.g. by co-opting an expert.

Using mindmaps well for large groups of test cases.

  • With such a large mindmap I can't see the whole thing at once.
  • Do you want to see the whole thing at once?
  • I want to organised mindmaps so that I can expand sub-trees independently because they aren't overly related.
  • Is wanting to see everything a smell? Perhaps that the structure isn't right?
  • Perhaps it's revealing an unwarranted degree of complexity in the product.
  • Or in your thinking.
  • A mindmap is your mindmap. It should exist to support you.
  • What are you trying to visualise?
  • Could you make it bigger?
  • Who is the audience?
  • I don't like to use a mindmap to keep track of project progress (e.g. with status).
  • I like a mindmap to get thoughts down
  • I use a mindmap to keep track of software dependencies.

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