Hello everyone, today was the final day of UKSTAR 2018 and proved to be a fabulous experience again for me. Here is a snippet of my experiences of day 2 of the conference.
The day started off with an absolutely riveting keynote session by the legendary testing expert Isabel Evans. Speaking about the topic titled ‘Leadership, fellowship and Followership’, Isabel drew parallels with how teams work in the world of animals – how there are many similarities and how we are hence operate in a similar fashion in our team behaviours. She shared the various attributes we exhibit in leader and follower roles, also providing inputs on how coaching / mentoring can bring about a feeling of fellowship. The session left a deep impact on the audience as we all listened with rapt attention and felt greatly energised by it.
I later attended a workshop again run by Isabel which focussed on the user experience in the various tools we use as testers, particularly around automation. It spurred excellent conversations amongst the participants and we shared our experiences / opinions of the tools we have dealt with. With some excellent exercises derived from research studies in NASA, Isabel got us thinking about a whole different aspect of the tools and how a tool might require skill or even reduce skill in some cases. She drew parallels with automobile industry and the evolution of cars to demonstrate how we might wish to work towards developing more usable tools in testing.
I then attended a session titled ‘how estimation might make your project riskier’ by Andrew Brown which opened up a very interesting side of this topic – behaviours around inaccurate estimates. He elaborated how when the estimates go wrong it triggers a risk seeking mode and how we tend to get into what is termed as ‘irrational behaviour’ in the language of economics. In essence project teams start to drop features, shrink the key testing time and hence increasing the risks of the overall project / product – something to watch out for, particularly in waterfall projects.
Later on Paul Gerrard in his session spoke on the topic of “Assurance, the evolution of test management). Paul very deftly described how over time the role of test manager has gradually lost its place, as the projects have steered towards agile methodology but the core skills of test management are still required in any project – we still need skills to provide a vision for quality, influencing the strategy, coaching the testers, interacting with the stakholders etc. Assurance he explained does not involve responsibility of delivery but being responsible for quality of testing throughout the project. Hence instead of dwelling on the loss of the test manager roles, perhaps it is best to be seen as a new opportunity to provide test assurance. I found this a truly insightful perspective and also a reassuring for many test managers out there who are perhaps feeling quite insecure of the current trends.
In the second half of the day I attended a session by, believe it or not, a 13 year old school boy! Harry Girlea is a seasoned tester already in the gaming industry and who I am told testing at the age of 9! He made a compelling case about why someone under the age of 18 would be quite an ideal choice as a tester for gaming industry. Not only was he comfortably delivering a talk to (obviously!) a much older audience, he was humorous, witty and highly sensible in his responses to some fairly tricky questions. He seemed at ease delving with profound aspects like the ageism he regularly faces. I was blown away by his confidence and presence. The future is surely bright for testing!
Another notable session for me was the one by James Lyndsay on the topic of ‘Basic pathologies of simple systerms’. Through a hands-on session James went about getting the audience try out some exploratory testing through a set of increasingly complex testing challenges and how to look out for emerging behaviours as the complexity increases. He encouraged us to think and behave like system analysts in our job of testing which was quite interesting.
The day was brought to a conclusion with the final keynote session by Frank Wammes, CTO at Cap Gemini. Frank’s session highlighted about how we need to constantly try to relate to connect the dots around us in a constantly changing technology scenario. I was able to understand why his session was titled ‘beat for byte’ as he illustrated with excellent examples about connecting our heart and our energy to the developments in technology to discover new opportunities – hence we will not have to fear any change of trends or disruptions. A great thought to end the conference with.
Top 3 highlights for the day for me were:
1) The key notes session by Isabel which had invaluable wisdom on team dynamics
2) The 13 year old secondary school student who made me think about how it is never too early or too late to follow your interests
3) Paul Gerrard’s views on changing face of test management which gave a practical and positive possibility for the fast depleting test management role
It has been a truly memorable couple of days for me. The conference has left me buzzing with ideas and inspiration. I will be publishing a couple of blogs further about my conversations with the various people in the conference and to reflect on what I took away from this conference. For now, I wish to conclude this write up with a mention about the team who tirelessly worked towards bringing this event together. The UKSTAR 2018 organising committee (Nathalie Van Delft, Mike Jarred and Alan Richardson) and the UKSTAR team. I wish to congratulate them on the success of UKSTAR 2018 and thank them for all their efforts in making this conference happen!