• Toby Sinclair

My Top 5 experiences from Agile Testing Days Conference

So Agile Testing Days(ATD) is over, but really, this is where the hard work begins! With so much learnt the challenge over the next few days will be to debrief, reflect and identify how i can turn some of this stuff into actions. To help me, and maybe others, here are my top 5 moments from the conference:

1. Conferring – Everyone

Before going to ATD i had the objective of conferring with as many people as i could. Thankfully the way ATD was structured meant that there were plenty of breaks in the day and events(samba dancing included) in the evening to encourage people to mingle. The Lean Coffee each morning was also a great way to meet others so thanks to Lisa and Janet for organising.

On the virtual conferring platform Twitter was going crazy, as usual! I’ve just started using Tweet Deck and found that really awesome for keeping track of different tweets. Highly recommend it if you haven’t got it. It still surprises me how popular Twitter is now within the testing community, its great to see so many people interacting and sharing their thoughts. I also saw various tweets from people watching from the sidelines who seemed to get a lot from the tweets.

2. A Test Management Carol: The Ghosts of Test Management Past, Present and Future – Ben Williams and Tom Roden

Rather than put this one into words. Just watch this, you’ll soon know why this was a highlight:

Their workshop at BDD Exchange also made my top 5 so well done boys.

3. The struggles of my identity and how i got my developers to start testing – Kristoffer Nordstrom

On Day 1 Kristoffer talked about struggling with finding an identity as a tester. I think many people can connect with this as teams move to more “generalising specialists” in cross functional teams.

In his talks Kristoffer referenced three interesting topics. Firstly he brought our attention to the “Impostor Syndrome”:

“A psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved.” Wikipedia

Also in the talk he referenced “Social Identity” theory which refers to our need as humans to feel like we belong. This has an impact on the relationships we form in teams as we don’t want to upset people and as testers it can be difficult to give certain information.

The final reference i’d like to mention was “The Presentation of Self in Everyday life” by Eric Goffman:

“According to Goffman, the social actor has the ability to choose his stage and props as well as the costume he would wear in front of a specific audience. The actor’s main goal is to keep coherent and adjust to the different settings offered him.” Wikipedia

I appreciate Kristoffer for sharing his personal stories with us all.

4. “Don’t put me in a box!” – Antony Maracano

Day 3 kicked off with a very motivational talk from Antony Maracano “Don’t put me in a box!”. The talk touched on how as individuals we use job titles to identify ourselves, for example when we meet others at a conference and we get asked the question “What do you do?” the answer usually pulls reference on your job title. Antony challenged us to break free from these titles and to not be constrained by our job title. It was great to see someone challenging something that we accept all too often. I’m a big believer of moving away from titles and referring to one’s self and the skills i can bring rather than specific title.

Leaving the talk one thing that was going through my mind;

“What influence does the recruitment industry have on our obsession with titles?”

How many job adverts have you seen without a Job Title, what would that look like? Maybe something to think over for a blog in the future.

In the opening Keynote Janet and Lisa talked about the future of testing and i certainly think, working out our identity as a team member is something which testers, or people who do testing, may have a challenge with over the coming years.

Having spoken to several different people after many agreed it was a great motivational talk and i’m sure many people have been inspired to “break free from their box!”

5. Dan Ashby Lateral and Critical thinking

I had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with Dan(#Legend) at the conference so i knew his talk was probably going to be great! He introduced us to:

Critical Thinking – “the process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion” Dictionary

Lateral Thinking“The solving of problems by an indirect and creative approach, typically through viewing theproblem in a new and unusual light.” Dictionary

(He also tried introducing me to Whisky one evening, but that wasn’t as enjoyable as this talk)

What i found really awesome in the talk was how Dan uses Puzzles to practice these skills. In fact we did two of these  awesome puzzles on Tuesday night. I hadn’t thought about doing that before but i can already tell I’m hooked, its just a shame i missed the Big Agile Games night on Wednesday.

Beyond the obvious benefits of improving your thinking skills i think these games are a great way to engage with the team, even those outside of testing. I’m actually thinking of putting puzzles into my email signature of work so that these ideas can spread within my organisation, if anything, hoping that it sparks a conversation with someone who i wouldn’t normally have spoken to.

My advice, if you are at a conference, find Dan and ask for a puzzle!

In fact here is one of his puzzles now:

8910 = 4

1480 = 3

8371 = 2

3472 = 0

8461 = ?

Tweet me with your answer 🙂

Closing thoughts……

So as you can probably tell from all the superlatives in my blog the conference was really awesome. If you get chance to go in the future i highly recommend it. Now there is one other highlight from the conference, my awesome talk, but i’ll debrief that in another blog post once my mind has had time to rest and recover.

Until next year ATD!

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©2020 by Toby Sinclair.