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Let’s Test Oz – Closing Keynote from Fiona Charles

The closing keynote speech of Let’s Test Oz 2014 was “The Battle for Our Hearts and Minds” by Fiona Charles.

This was the first time I’ve attended one of Fiona’s talks in person. My impressions of Fiona after this conference are that she is honest, practical, a strategic thinker and that she doesn’t mince words.

“I have seen 50-page test strategies without an ounce of strategic thinking”

Fiona Charles

“I’m not going to do bad work” Fiona Charles

The theme of this keynote was that attempts to standardise testing are stifling creativity and value, and that it’s time for testers to take back our craft. Fiona spoke of the need for testers to have the courage and tenacity to speak up about important issues when others remain quiet. This included being willing to ‘blow the whistle‘ where necessary to expose important issues which could affect people’s lives.

“We need to be able to say things that nobody wants to hear, because that’s our job”

The topic of testing standards came up more than once, as a primary cause of the long-term de-skilling of the testing workforce and the current overall state of testing processes and documentation. Using the example of a 25-page IEEE 829 compliant Test Plan, Fiona saw no project-specific content until page 12. The time taken to produce these documents is costing companies money, and contributes to testing being viewed as ‘too expensive’. The focus of testing should be on adding value to the project and to the company.

“The Master Test Plan is probably the most useless document since printing was invented”

Most of the people behind the creation of ISO 29119 stand to profit if the standard is introduced. Interestingly, Fiona’s opposition to ISO 29119 comes despite her anticipation that she’ll profit from the standard if it’s introduced. Fiona described how she has seen first-hand the damage caused by compliance to the IEEE 829 test documentation standard. She has been called in to multiple organisations to mop up the damage which that standard leaves in its wake, and she has every reason to believe that ISO 29119 would create more of the same damage.

“The quest for certainty collides with the reality of software development”

Fiona introduced the concept of “healthy uncertainty vs unhealthy certainty” while debunking the notion that popular test metrics are useful. She covered some key attributes of great testers, and they’re not the ones you see listed in jobs ads: Integrity, Independence of Mind, Courage, Engagement…

I really enjoyed this talk. It was motivational, inspirational and a call to action for all testers.

Recommended reading\viewing:
The slides from this keynote are available from the Let’s Test Oz website.
Breaking the Tyranny of Form blog post – Fiona Charles
Delivering Unwelcome Messages EuroSTAR webinar – Fiona Charles
Slides from We are the 99% – Anne-Marie Charrett

All quotes in this post are from Fiona Charles’ keynote.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2014 in Software Testing

 

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Let’s Test Oz 2014 – Day 1

It’s 11PM and day 1 hasn’t finished yet, there are activities still happening around the hotel. This is really a different style of conference than I’m used to. All participants stay at the same hotel where the keynotes, breakout sessions and test lab take place, so the conference doesn’t actually end at a specific time each night.

I arrived this morning in the picturesque Blue Mountains outside of Sydney. I was excited, nervous, intimidated, keen, and relieved to have made it here. There was a contingent of testers already here and the conferring had begun before the conference’s opening keynote. About 5 minutes after entering the hotel, most thoughts of intimidation and nervousness were gone. This is where I was meant to be. I mingled and promoted twitter as a means for learning more about the context-driven testing community.

The opening keynote was delivered by James Bach:

How do I know I am context-driven?

What followed was a wealth of information based on years of research, hands-on experience and debates, condensed into a one-hour talk. This was an excellent summary of what it means to be context-driven, from one of the founders of the context-driven testing community. There was one slide in particular which I could’ve questioned James on for another hour, called Implicit principles of the Context-Driven School of Testing. This slide contains ideas which could fill a book, if James had time to write another book.. I think I need to read some more books before I can fully fathom the concepts presented! The beauty of this conference is that I have many opportunities to find James in the hotel and ask about this slide in more detail, ask for advice on recommended further reading, and discuss testing in depth.

As usual, I found James’ talk personally motivating and compelling. Specifically, the categorisation of levels of involvement in the context-driven community felt to me like a call to action and I’ve treated it as such. I will be actively ensuring that I fall into the Committed Practitioner category, and probably also Committed Student as I love to keep learning.

These are some of my favourite quotes from James‘ keynote speech:

“A professional society of people trying to be the best they can be” – Yes! This is a growing crowd which I’m proud to be a part of.

“Respect and nurture people who are learning” – James noted the Greeting vs. Challenging methods of introducing testers to the context-driven community, and his tendency towards the latter. There are other leaders in the test community who patiently introduce those who are newly discovering professional testing approaches.

“The product is a solution. If the problem isn’t solved, the product doesn’t work”. Hallelujah!

“Testing has parallels with martial arts, you need to practise, and EARN respect” – I’m paraphrasing here.

“Context-driven testers must be able to answer the question ‘What’s your approach to testing?'” – Oops. I have some homework to do.

“Instead of best-practice, say a practice. For example, we use a practice for defect management.” That’s a huge improvement! This would make the software world a better place 🙂

“You don’t need to promise, quantify or lie. See Keith Klain for more information.” I’m paraphrasing again. This was another call to action for me.

In conclusion…

This is what I got from the FIRST HOUR of this 3 day conference. I’m glad I made the effort to attend, I’d have deeply regretted missing out.

Stay tuned, more to come. But not tonight 🙂

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Software Testing

 

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