Category: Conference (Page 2 of 3)

Experiential learning: learning from experience

This blog post was originally written as an column for (English) and (Dutch).

Unfortunately last year AYE (Amplifying Your Effectiveness) was organized for the last time. AYE was a conference in Albuquerque in the U.S. hosted by Jerry Weinberg, Esther Derby, Johanna Rothman and Don Gray. I have never been there and very much wanted to go. But alas: too late!

What appeals to me most in this conference is the focus on experiential learning. They want no powerpoints presentations with barely any room for questions. They want participants who will participate, ask questions, share their experiences, be part of experiential exercises and contribute to the session designs and content.

Fiona Charles does a lot of workshops in this way. Last year I attended Let’s Test conference near Stockholm where I experienced a workshop “Inspiring Test Leadership”. Not been in or done, but experienced! Let me give you a brief report of the workshop. We were with a group of 25-30 people, we sat in a circle and we introduced ourselves briefly. Everyone gave their motivation for being in this workshop. Upon hearing the wide variety of reasons for choosing this particular session, I asked myself just how Fiona could give us all what we were looking for…

During the day, we did a number of interesting exercises in groups. All exercises were discussed and debriefed extensively. During those debriefs Fiona keeps asking the questions. These questions helped us to tell our story about what happened, how we experienced it and why we did what we did. Others are encouraged to respond with their own stories. Meanwhile Fiona facilitates the discussion with questions like “do you know why that happened?” or “how would you use it?”.

In one of the exercises we were divided into two groups. Each group was given 45 minutes time to create a leadership challenge for the other group. After that both groups got 45 minutes to solve the problem. A very interesting exercise it was! You experience the group process while generating ideas under time pressure. After 45 minutes you have to deliver something to work with enabling the other group to get started. It is basically an exercise in an exercise! You learn to think about leadership and it’s challenges. But the process itself is also very interesting and instructive. Leaders step forward, group dynamics occur and all sort of things happen. You do not learn about aspects of leadership, you are the object of the exercise! Did everyone get what they were looking for? No idea, I think so. That’s the beauty of this teaching method: all participants take away what is in there for them. Each participant is responsible for their own learning.

After EuroSTAR, on the way to the hotel, I discussed experiential learning with Fiona. EuroSTAR was great and there is more and more room for workshops and hands-on stuff. While walking Fiona told me that she has an idea to organize a conference with only experiential workshops inspired by the AYE conferences. I was excited immediately. Currently Fiona and I are brainstorming about the possibilities for such a conference, specifically aimed at testers.

What do you think? Would you participate? Who has experience with experiential learning? And what are your experiences? What would you want to learn in such workshops? I’m curious about your reactions.

DEWT2 was awesome!!

Last Friday (October 5th) a bunch of software testing nerds and one agile girl gathered in Hotel Bergse Bossen in Driebergen talk about software testing with the central theme “experience reports: implementing context-driven testing”. Ruud published almost all the photos I took on the DEWT website, so I have to write a report in text here. Thanks dude 😉

After some drinks and having dinner we gathered in the conference room called the chalet. I think they call it the chalet because of the humid smell inside because it certainly didn’t look like a chalet.

But never mind, the room was good enough to do a peer conference. Lighting talks were on the program for Friday and Jean-Paul started with a talk in which he asked the question: “Is the context-driven community elitist?”. Jean-Paul sees a lot of tweets and blogs from people in the context-driven community who seem to look down on the rest of the testing community sending the message “look how great we are!”. Is this effective behaviour given the fact that the context-driven community wants to change the way people test, he asked himself.

Joris had a short and clear answer to the first question: “yes!” (the context-driven community is elitist). We had a long discussion that went everywhere but never close to an answer to question about effectiveness and how it can be done better. Never the less it was a valuable and fun discussion. I will blog about this later this year.

We had a great evening/night with home brew beer “Witte Veer”, Belgium beer brought by Zeger and a bottle of Laphroaig quarter cask brought by Joris. Sitting at the fire place a lot of us stayed up until late

Saturday morning the last DEWTs and guests arrived. With 23 people in the room we had a great group. Our guest were: Markus Gärtner, Ilari Henrik Aegerter, Tony Bruce, Gerard Drijfhout, Pascal Dufour, Rob van Steenbergen, Derk-Jan de Grood, Joep Schuurkes, Bryan Bakker, Lilian Nijboer and Philip-Jan Bosch. The DEWTS: Adrian Canlon, Ruud Cox, Philip Hoeben, Zeger van Hese, Jeanne Hofmans, Joris Meerts, Ray Oei, Jeroen Rosink, Peter Schrijver, Jean-Paul Varwijk and myself.

Peter was our facilitator and for the first time we used k-cards at DEWT to facilitate the discussion. I really like this method, but Lillian didn’t. She had an interesting discussion on twitter with some DEWTs.

Jean-Paul: I like the LAWST format we are using for #DEWT2
Lilian: @Arborosa i don’t. impersonal and inhibits useful discussion
Markus: @llillian @Arborosa What’s the improvement you’re suggesting? 🙂
Lilian: @mgaertne @Arborosa but i am invited and feel i at least have to try it this way
Jean-Paul: @llillian @mgaertne Invite us to an agile event to learn alternatives
Markus: @Arborosa @llillian Funny thing, I would like to introduce more focused-facilitated sessions quite often in agile discussions using k-cards.
Lilian: @mgaertne @Arborosa different ppl prefer different things 🙂

Ilari kicked of with a presentation about the introduction of context-driven testing at eBay. He had two very interesting ideas: the first is “Monday Morning Suggestion” a short email to his team with tips, tricks or interesting links. The second was that he supports his team in getting better and learning by paying for their books and conference visits. Great stuff!

Second was Markus Gärtner with a story about him coaching a colleague to become a better tester and more context-driven. He talked about his lessons learned coaching where teaching gradually turned into coaching. He also gave some insight in the transpection sessions he did using the socratic method.

The third presentation was about changing people to become more context-driven by Ray Oei. An interesting discussion developed about how to get people to change. We focus too much on the people who do not want to change instead of working with the people who do want to change. Pascal asked an interesting question which I put on twitter: “If all testers become context-driven overnight, are we happy?” James Bach replied: “Yes, we are happy if all testers become CDT” and “We are happy if all testers take seriously the world around them, and how it works, and dump authoritarianism”. To me it doesn’t really matters, I do hope that more people become CDT, but I prefer good software testing no matter how them call it.

After the discussion Joris said he was attending the wrong peer conference since he expected a lot of discussion about testing instead of what he calls “people management”. An interesting question, but isn’t testing also a lot about people? Just an hour late we went for lunch and a walk in a wet forest. After the walk the group photo was taken.

The forth talk was by Ruud Cox who talked about testing in a medical environment. He described the way he has been working. He and his colleague tester use exploratory testing to learn and explore. Scripted testing was used to do the checking. Ruud explained that exploratory testing fits very well in an R&D environment. After his talk we had an interesting discussion about auditors and their role in testing.

Around 16:00 it was my turn to do my talk about implementing context-driven testing within Rabobank. I did a short version of the talk I will do at EuroStar in November telling about the challenges we had and what we did to change our context. What did we do? What worked and what didn’t? Some interesting questions were asked. And we had a nice discussion about the personal side of becoming more context-driven where Joep explained how he became context-driven. The first stage was being interested and he went looking for a book. The second stage took him over a year where he struggled with the stuff he learned at RST and trying to adapt his way of working. The third and last stage is where he doesn’t need anything anymore because he will always find a way to make things work.

After my talk and the discussion the day ended. We did a quick round to discuss our experiences and thanked the people for attending, organizing and facilitating. Our agile girl still doesn’t know what to think about the facilitation with the k-cards, she obviously had to get used to discussing with the cards. I am curious how she thinks about them when she had the chance to think about it some more.

All together I had a great time. Pity we didn’t play the Kanban game on Friday. But I hope Derk-Jan will give me another chance at the game night at TestNet in November. Thanks all for the awesome weekend!!

DEWT3 is already being planned for April 20 and 21 next year and James Bach will attend. Let me know if you are interested in joining us in April 2013. The topic hasn’t been decided yet, but if you have great ideas please share them.

Standing left to right: Ray Oei, Jean-Paul Varwijk, Adrian Canlon, Markus Gärtner, Ruud Cox, Joris Meerts, Pascal Dufour, Philip Hoeben, Gerard Drijfhout, Bryan Bakker, Derk Jan de Grood, Joep Schuurkes, Lilian Nijboer, Philip-Jan Bosch, Jeroen Rosink, Jeanne Hofmans
Kneeling left to right: Tony Bruce, Zeger van Hese, Ilari Henrik Aegerter, Huib Schoots, Peter Simon Schrijver

Basic training for software testers must change

This blog post was originally written as an column for (English) and (Dutch).

On this blog I recently wrote about my meeting with James Bach with the provocative title: “What they teach us in TMap Class and why it is wrong“. Mid July I go to San Jose for the CAST conference. During the weekend preceding I participate in Test Coach Camp. The title of the post is the title of a proposal that I submitted to discuss at Test Coach Camp.

In the past I have been a trainer for quite a few ISTQB and TMAP courses. The groups attending the training were often a mix of inexperienced and experienced testers. The courses cover topics like: the reason for testing, what is testing, the (fundamental) processes, the products that testers create, test levels, test techniques, etc. In these three-day courses all exercises are done on paper. Throughout the whole training not once actual software is tested!? I wonder if courses for developers exist where no single line of code is written.

In San Jose at Test Coach Camp I want to discuss the approach of these courses with my peers. How can we improve them? I feel these courses are not designed to prepare testers to test well. Let alone to encourage testers to become excellent in their craft.

During my dinner with James, I asked him what he would do if he would train novices to become good testers. He replied that he would let them test some software from the start. He would certainly not start with lectures on processes, test definitions and vocabulary. During a session the student will (unknowingly) use several techniques that will be named and can be further explained when stumbled upon. A beautiful exploratory approach I would like to try myself: learning by doing! But there are many more opportunities to improve testing courses. People learn by making mistakes, by trying new things. Testing is much more about skills than about knowledge. Imagine a carpenter doing a basic training. His training will mainly consist of exercises! My neighbour is doing a course to become furniture maker. She is learning the craft by many hours of practice creating work pieces. Practice is the biggest part of her training!

One of the comments on my blog opposed to the suggestion by James Bach. Peter says: “I have been both a tester and trainer in ISTQB and TMap. Yes we can make testing fun but without a method that testing has no structure and more importantly has no measurable completion. How will those new people on “more practical” course know when they have finished? What tests did they do? What did they forget? What defect types did they target? Which ones did they not look for? What is the risk to the system? My view after 40 years as a developer and tester is that this idea might be fun but is not just WRONG but so dangerously wrong that I am sad that no one else has seen it.”

What do you think?

Let’s Test 2012: an awesome conference! – Part 4

Wednesday 9th: Let’s Test day 3: sessions

Keynote Scott Barber

Last day of this awesome conference. Because we went to bed quite late (or early, it depends how you look at it), I was a bit hungover. But the adrenalin for my upcoming talk made my hangover disappear unbelievable quickly. The day started with a keynote by Scott Barber titled “Testing Missions in Context From Checking To Assessment”. I had no clue of where this talk would bring us but the title intrigued me. Scott started with a fun incoming message where he was asked to test a website and all discrepancies in production would be blamed on him. The message ended with the rhetorical question: “do you accept this mission?”. Scott talked about missions and tasks and he gave some nice examples using his military history. His advice: “always look at the mission two command levels up”. At the end of his talk he presented his new “Software System Readiness Assessment” and the Software System Assessment Report Card. I think I like his model, but I have to give it some more thought.

Scott Barber - Testing Missions in Context From Checking To Assessment

Scott relaxed on a bar stool on stage


On Wednesday there were only 2 sessions because there was also a second keynote in the afternoon. I went to Michael Albrechts talk “from Good to Great with xBTM”. Michael talked about Session and Thread based test management. Both are very good, but combined they are great, he claims. He showed the tool SBTExecute. I haven’t had the chance to try it yet, but it looks promising. His talked showed how SBTM and TBTM can be combined using mind maps and how this approach can be used in agile.

My talk “So you think you can test?” was planned in the second session right after lunch. The rooms was packed and Zeger van Hese (did I mention that he is program chair of EuroStar 2012?) was facilitating the session. What could go wrong? After my talk there was a nice Open Season with some great questions. Thanks all for attending and participating, thank Zeger for facilitating. I hope everybody enjoyed my talk as much as I did.

Michael Albrecht - From Good to Great with xBTM

Look who's talking

So you think you can test? (Photo: Zeger van Hese)

Keynote Julian Harty

Julian did a magnificent keynote titled “Open Sourcing Testing”. He called testers to action to share their stuff with others so all can benefit, learn and eventually become better testers. One of his slides said: Ask “what you I share?” that doesn’t risk “too much”. And I think he is right. We should share more and we should be more open about what we do. Sure there is a lot of stuff which is too privacy-sensitive to share, but why should we reinvent the wheel in every organisation or project? By sharing we can also learn faster…

Julian Harty - Open Sourcing Testing

The End: Organisors on stage saying goodbye

The end…

Here you find all the presentations and lots of other blogs about Let’s Test 2012. I had a wonderful time, met loads of great people and learned a lot. So I think I can truly say: it was an awesome conference. I already registered for Let’s Test 2013 … Count down has begun. See you there? Or if you can’t wait so long: maybe we meet in San Jose at CAST 2012 in a couple of weeks? This promises to be an awesome conference as well!

People leaving, taxis driving on and off

My physical take aways: Julian, Rikard, Torbjörn and Scott: thanks!

Let’s Test 2012: an awesome conference! – Part 3

Tuesday 8th May: Let’s Test day 2: Sessions

Keynote Rob Sabourin

After a “tired” but funny introduction by Paul “Hungover” Holland, Rob Sabourin climbed the stage to do a great keynote titled “Elevator Parable” in which he told a story about a conversation he overhead in the elevator. The central thing is his talk was a bug from this conversation. Rob entertained the audience with voice mail messages from famous testers like James Bach and Rex Black. After every message the audience was asked to triage the bug. A very entertaining and interesting talk. Duncan has written a much more comprehensive blog post about this talk and you can find it here.

Paul "hungover" Holland

Rob Sabourin (photo by Anders Dinsen)

Rob Sabourin – Elevator Parable


After the keynote I went to four really good sessions:

  1. Markus Gärtner – “Charter your tests”: in which we worked in small groups to create charters to test an application of our choice. A nice “dojo” style exercise with some good discussions in the retrospective part.
  2. Rikard Edgren – “Curing Our Binary Disease”: a great presentation in which Rikard warns us for the Binary Disease. A serious disease with four symptoms: pass/fail addiction, coverage obsession, metrics tumor and sick test techniques.
  3. Louise Perold – “Tales from the financial testing trenches”: for me, working for a bank, this case study was very interesting. She shared her experiences testing context-driven in the financial domain: some topics she covered were low-tech dashboard, reporting with mind maps, learning & motivation, effect mapping and debriefing.
  4. Anne-Marie Charrett – “Coaching Testers”: in this session Anne-Marie did a short introduction presentation of the coaching model she and James Bach have developed. After that she did a short coaching session via skype on the beamer to show how it works. Next the group was invited to coach 5 anonymous testers via skype on the laptops in the back of the room. The exercise was fun and it was interesting to see how a coaching session via skype evolves. David was one of the testers coached, read his write-up.

Markus Gärtner - Charter your tests

Working in groups in Markus’ session

Sharing and discussing results

Some Results
and flip chart art

Lunch Outside (who is the person in the middle?)

Rikard Edgren - Curing Our Binary Disease

Louise Perold - Tales from the financial testing trenches

Anne-Marie Charrett - Coaching Testers

Live coaching testers

Evening fun

Again the evening brought lots of fun: Let’s Test had an amazing evening program including guided art and nature tours, sports, open space, lighting talks, competitions in the test lab, quizzes and … sponsored free beer! Great to have all attendees of the conference present at the same venue all night. This creates a wonderful ambiance with fun, good conversations and you meet a lot of interesting people.

Xbox ski fun

Let's Try

Test Lab Heroes

The Test Lab packed

Ideal game for testers: Set!

Sun comes up, time to go to bed!

Let’s Test 2012: an awesome conference! – Part 2

Monday May 7th: Let’s Test Tutorial day

Keynote Michael Bolton
Ola opened the conference officially with this great song by one of my favorite bands. When the music started I looked around the grand hall to see where they had hidden the canons… you never know.

And we rocked! The first keynote was Michael Bolton, who did a great talk “If it is not context-driven, you can’t do it here”. Reminding us in one of his first slides that the title is ironic. See the live blog by Markus Gärtner for a full report on this great talk. There were a lot of tweets during the talk like these: “Adopt or adapt a clients context is part of the paradox of being a context driven tester”, “Mature people don’t try to get rid of failure, they manage it” and “Testers are in the business of reducing damaging certainty”. Meike Mertsch created some awesome drawings to capture the opening and keynote. This reminds me that I want to do the same course Markus and Meike did…

The event hall filling up

Michael Bolton – If it’s not CD you can’t do it here!

Live blogging by @MeikeMertsch

Tutorial Fiona Charles
After the keynote it was tutorial time and I joined Fiona Charles on the topic : “test leadership”. A nice big group of 25-30 people sat in a circle and we introduced ourselves shortly and explained the motivation to be in this tutorial. I always enjoy the variety of reasons why people chose a specific session. During the day we did a couple of interesting exercises and debriefed them quite extensive. In one of the exercises was, we were decided in two groups. Each group had to create a leadership challenge for the other group in 45 minutes. The other group would get 45 minutes to solve it. After creating the challenges, they we both solved by the groups. The interesting thing in these exercises is while working on the exercises, you are also the subject of the exercises and you are aware of that fact. Got some interesting insides and take-aways to chew on.

Fiona and some attendees

The tutorial group

More tutotial attendees

Working in groups

Teamwork during exercise

More discussion

Results drawn by Markus

Results in a mind map

An evening in the Test Lab
After a beautiful diner it was time for the evening program. There was so much to do but I chose the test lab, since I like actual testing with my peers on these occasions. We did a group exercise planning collaborative with as planning tool. Here I noticed the common problem if people all have their own device: everybody is too much focussed on what they are doing and not really collaborating. A lot of lessons and a good experience again, so cheers to James and Martin who organized the lab here. The rest of the evening we spend having a couple of beers and discussing al kinds of test and non-test related topics.

Working with corkboard

Discussion and concentration

A lot of hard work

Let’s Test 2012: an awesome conference! – Part 1

The world of software testing is changing and Context-driven testing (CDT) is upcoming. In the USA it is better known and more applied than with us in Europe. Overseas in the USA the Association for Software Testing (AST) is fairly context-driven. They organize a conference called CAST every year where CDT is one of the main topics. In 2011 the theme of the whole conference was context-driven testing. People like Cem Kaner, Michael Bolton and James Bach travel the world to learn others about CDT. They encourage others to create peer workshops like DEWT in the Netherlands, SWET in Sweden and GATE in Germany. These peer workshops help spread the word about CDT. At other conferences CDT gets some attention, but that isn’t enough… In the summer of 2011 five brave gentlemen from Sweden decided to create something beautiful: a context-driven conference in Europe! Let’s Test was born. I am very pleased to be one of the approx. 140 people who took part in the first Let’s Test ever. I feel very honoured that I was part of the totally excellent line-up of speakers that spoke there.

Me and Peter (aka Simon) Schrijver arrived at Runö in Åkersberga early Sunday morning after picking up Fiona Charles at her hotel in Stockholm. Here we met the organisers of the conference: Johan Jonasson, Hendrik Andersson, Ola Hyltén, Torbjörn Ryber and Hendrik Emilsson. The venue is beautiful!

The venue: Runö – Möten & Events

Hotel buildings 1 and 2

Keynote hall (l) and main building (r)

My Room

The view

More view

The garden

Sunday May 6th: LTWET (LEWT goes Sweden / Let’s LEWT)

After a quick breakfast I joined a LEWT-style peer workshop organized by James Lyndsay. Peter joined the people who were trained as facilitators for the Let’s Test conference by Paul Holland. Later that morning some of them would join the peer workshop. The theme of the peer workshop was “design” and we started with a small group: James Lyndsay, Desi (James’ wife), Neil Thompson, Fiona Charles and me. Later Paul Holland, Ilari Aegerter, Ben Kelly, Torbjörn Ryber, Rikard Edgren, Peter/Simon Schrijver and Simon Morley joined.

Dot voting monkeys

Great topics

Fiona, Paul and Ilari

Torbjörn and Peter/Simon

Desi, Simon and Rikard

James, Ben and Neil

Neil on relation between analysis and design

Rikard on Charisma Testing

Simon on Experimental design

Sunday evening May 6th: pre Let’s Test fun

After dinner drinks

More drinks in the cafe

They also have coke 😉

Happy New Year! Busy New Year!

I know, I am way too late to wish you a happy new year. But I wish you a very happy new year anyway! This year will be a very busy one for me. To create some overview for myself, I created a mindmap of my testing ambitions for 2012…

This truely will become a magnifiant year! Busy but awesome for sure. Some highlights:

And another DEWT peer conference to look forward to! A lot of testing, conferencing, meeting and learning to do!

How to become a software testing expert?

This blog post was originally written as an column for (English) and (Dutch).

This is the third and last part on the theme “how to become a software testing expert.” Part 1 “You can learn testing!” can be found here and Part 2 “What makes a good tester?” is here.

In part one I said that if you want to be an expert software tester, you must qualify yourself in many skills. That through feedback, actively seeking and making mistakes, helps you find out where you can improve. And that coaching is a great way to learn faster. In part two I stated that passion and attitude are most important. Then the skills, competencies and qualities such as proactivity, communication, social / emotional development, collaboration, fast learning, curiosity, but also the ability to apply test techniques. Knowledge to me is the least important. A good tester has test, technical and domain knowledge (in that order of importance).

Passion and attitude
Without passion no change and no progress” said Ferry Bezem of Twynstra Gudde in this Dutch Article. “How passion for your job can lead to success” is one of the other many articles I found when I googled “passion in your work”. To become succesfull, you need to find out who you are and where you get energy. To become good, you need to have passion for your profession. This article explains how to “develop” passion. In addition attitude or mentality are important as well. With the right attitude, you will be successful for sure! And don’t forget: you can change your attitude!

Critical thinking
Testing for me is questioning a product in order to evaluate it. A tester does this by learning everything there is to learn about the product and analyze this information. Critical thinking is an essential competency of a tester. But how many testers train it? On a well known Dutch book site I searched for books on critical thinking. What struck me was that there are several books on critical thinking for medical personal to find. And that sounds actually quite logical: medics diagnose patients, testers do the same for their “patients”: the test object!


We write comprehensive test plans that are never read. We use extensive templates to make sure nothing is forgotten (and we do not have to think too much). We do product risk assessments but subsequently we don’t do anything with the risks identified. We often do not use any test techniques. Why?! I think because many people simply don’t know how. I often ask why test techniques are not used. The most common answer is: because there is not enough time!? But these techniques should make our testing more effective and efficient, don’t they? As a tester you should be dreaming these techniques. You should OWN them!

Every novice tester in the Netherlands starts with TMap or ISTQB. With that fact in itself is nothing wrong. A three-day class where the basics of software testing are taught is a good start. But too often that’s it. We like to guide our testing with process models: ISTQB and TMAP are full of them. But the reality is often more complex and testers get in trouble when the situation is slightly different as they are used to. The choice of a particular tool, technique or method depends on the context. TMap Next claims to be an adaptive method, but do you remember how much time was spent on this topic in your class? And how adaptive are you yourself? Do you use the same template over and over? Do you simply copy the test plan for the next release using a search and replace?

Learn, practice and training
I learned very much by critical reading. There are many free software test magazines and there are many great books on software testing. The internet is an excellent source of (often free) information. There are many videos available of presentations at meetings and conferences. On my blog I keep a list of great resources for testers. Lynn McKee has a similar list. Or start reading blogs, twitter can inform you about new interesting blogs and other things worth reading.

Try weekend testing or a testing dojo to practice your skills. Join a local software test community or organize your own gathering with a group of testers who want to meet and learn. At several employers I introduced intervision meetings for testers. I also founded DEWT with a group of passionate colleagues: like-minded people who like to challenge and inspire each other. We spend many hours discussing our profession and we certainly do not always agree. We discuss and practice in a safe environment and learn from each other.

Try something different
Have you been a software tester for years and are you planning to spice up your resume with another certificate? Then maybe the BBST training is something for you. Let me warn you in advance: this training will give you no certificate and it requires you to study and do exercises almost daily for a month. If you really want to learn, you need to invest a lot of time. Malcolm Gladwell claims in his book Outliers that the key to success in any field is practicing 10,000 hours. Try a training that changes your view on testing: rapid software testing for example. This training has changed my view of my profession and inspired me tremendously. Visiting conferences can be very inspiring and instructive. Join TestNet or another (online) testing community like The Software Testing Club and get inspired. You have plenty of choice!

Learning from others
I enjoy working with others. As I observe, I ask questions or explain my view on the situation. We still can learn a lot from our colleagues in projects … and vice versa! And I’m not just talking about fellow testers. A programmer can build a tool or script in only a few hours that can save testers days of work. By doing unit tests together, we gain insight in what developers test and how they do it. Try working together: pair programming or pair testing can be a powerful tool. Unfortunately, it has a negative image, because it seems to double the effort. But I think it can be beneficial. The added value is mastering the details of a job easier, fewer mistakes, faster learning, team building, cooperation and fun.

Writing and presenting
Blogging, writing columns or giving presentations forces you to structure your thoughts. In addition, your stories or presentations will trigger reactions by others. By taking this feedback seriously, can you sharpen your thoughts and learn again.

Ask yourself what you can do better often. Evaluate! Ask for reviews on your products regulary. Also ask for feedback from your colleagues on the process, your skills and your performance proactively. Furthermore, my advice is simple: you need a lot of practice to become an expert. So what are you going to do tomorrow?


Huib Schoots sees himself as a context-driven tester. Currently he works as team manager testing at Rabobank International and he is board member of TestNet. He is a member of DEWT (Dutch Workshop on Exploratory Testing), student in the Miagi-Do School of Software Testing and maintains a blog on

Agile Testing Days: a gathering called PATS

November 14-17 I attended Agile Testing Days in Potsdam. It was a great experience! In a series of experience reports on my blog I will reflect this conference. I want to start with the gathering of testers Jean-Paul Varwijk and I organized called PaTS (Potsdam agile Testers Session).

Jean-Paul and I love to discuss testing with other passionate testers. That is why we
both are in DEWT, participate at TestNet and some other initiatives. Zeger
van Hese
, fellow DEWT (and Programme Chair EuroSTAR 2012. GRATS again
Zeger!) told us about the Rebel Alliance at EuroStar 2010 and Jean-Paul and I decided to try to organize something similar.

So we arranged a room, made a shortlist of special and interesting people from the
(agile) software testing scene and send out an email announcing PaTS: a get
together on Wednesday evening 16th of November 2011 in Potsdam. We defined our
event as an informal off-conference evening, with drinks and pizza to talk and
debate about testing, have fun and debate some more. It turned out to be a fun and interesting evening!

Rob Lambert, Rob van Steenbergen, Daniel Levy, Janet Gregory, Simon Morley, Brett L. Schuchert, James Lyndsay, Stevan Zivanovic, Jim Holmes, Bart Knaack, Lisa Crispin, Olaf Lewitz, Mike Scott, Jurgen Appelo, Thomas Ponnet, Cecile Davis, Michael Bolton, Jean-Paul Varwijk and me gathered in the test lab and we first ordered some jumbo pizza and beer. Thanks to Telerik for sponsoring the beer!

We made a list of interesting topics and conducted a “dot vote”. This is the list
and the dot ranking:

Great Testers – 10
Management of testers – 8
Acceptable level of risk – 8
DEWT / Peer groups – 6
Tool topic – 3
Coin game – 2
Retrospect ATD talks – 2
Bathtub – 1
Continuous delivery – 1
Cloud – 1
Testlab – 0

We agreed to give every topic 10 minutes and “Caesar vote” after the time box to see if the group wants to give the topic extra time. During the evening the 4 top topics were discussed. Rob Lambert made some great mind maps of each topic. He let me take pictures so a massive thanks to him! You can also find them here.

Great Testers

Lisa Crispin started the discussion: “Most important is attitude, we will teach them the
skills”. And I fully agree. The group also mentioned passion as very important. When somebody is passionate about his work, he wants to improve and learning will become an essential part of his daily routine. Curiosity and quick learning are skills which were mentioned here as well. Another characteristic of a great tester is to be able to see things different or as Michael Bolton said: a great tester is capable of seeing complexity in apparent simple things and simplicity in apparent complex things.

Of course communication was mentioned as an important skill to be able to exchange knowledge. Michael Bolton ask what was meant with communication and he summed up 27 different forms of communication. I have to study the list, but I think that will end up as a separate blogpost here.

There was also a discussiuon about structured vs. unstructured testing (scripted vs. exploratory testing). What the conclusion was of this skill I can’t remember. But for me I value testers who can do both and are not affraid of thinking of their own. Exploratory testing gives a tester freedom but also forces him to keep thinking.

Other characteristics/skills mentioned during the discussion: cultural fit, humility, empathy, honesty, domain knowledge and sense of humour. Good to see a lot of human factors discussed.

I will further work on the other 3 topics discussed. But the mind maps by Rob Lambert give you a nice overview what was discussed.

Manage / lead testers to become great






DEWT / Peer groups






Acceptable level of risk






You can find some other experience reports of PaTS by Rob van Steenbergen, Jean-Paul and Olaf Lewitz.

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