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Agile Testing Days Berlin - Day 1

Posted by jc-Qualitystreet on 2010/10/11

Agile Testing Days 2010 : Day 1 (French version : Jour 1 on www.qualitystreet.fr)
Agile Testing Days 2010 : Day 2 (French version Jour 2 on www.qualitystreet.fr)
Agile Testing Days 2010 : Days 3 (French version Jour 3 on www.qualitystreet.fr)

Tuesday  5th October was the First day of the Agile Testing Days at Seminaris Center in Berlin. About 300 participants ?, 26 nationalities ? attended the conference (José Diaz will be able to confirm…)

The greatest Agile testing experts were given appointment to discuss a crucial topic on any Scrum and agile projects:  TESTING.

Great Keynotes !

No less than 3 keynotes for this first day with 3 women in the spotlight: Lisa Crispin, Linda Rising and Elizabeth Hendrickson.

Keynote d'ouverture

Opening Keynote

Lisa Crispin was in charge of the opening keynote: “Limbo Lower Now: an agile approach to defect management.”

A great talk on a frequent subject of our agile coaching intervention : the defect management system (DFS).

Defect Management Tool, YES or NO? advantages? Drawbacks? contexts?

Lisa Crispin used the limbo analogy for defects management : teams have to lower the bar for defects:

Limbo Dancing from Lisa Crispin

Limbo Dancing from Lisa Crispin

After having presented the traditional view for defects, Lisa described other perspectives : the agile and lean view.

Key points :

“Defect queues are waste… It’s inventory”

“You find a defect, fix it because bugs are technical debt”

Lisa described the 5 steps of an agile approach :

  • “Understand the problem
  • Do what works for your team
  • Focus on one goal : BUG PREVENTION
  • Start simple
  • Explore alternatives”

Defect prevention must be the only goal of the team.

“Make it a team problem”

Concerning metrics, Lisa said that trends are more important than number. The rest is a matter of context, and the ability to experiment several options (for example, start without DTS, set simple rules such as no more than 10 defects at once, fix all bugs, treat bugs as stories, use color-codes cards and stickers …) to finally keep the one that fits best.

“Do That works for your team”

And the only way to do that is to make frequent retrospectives (”Inspect & Adapt”).

Second keynote with Linda Rising « Deception and estimation : how we fool oursevelves”.

With humor and finesse but supported by a cognitive psychology background, Linda Rising shows how humans are wrong with their estimates.

“We deceive ourselves in the estimates we make daily”
“We’re hardwired to deceive”

Too bad :)

Examples of everyday life and the ability to play with her audience make the demonstration very effective. The link with IT projects was easily made:  bad estimates of course !

“We tend to believe we’re better than we are”…

… so we tend to overestimate our ability to do anything (analysis, Development, testing, deployment…).

“Agile to the rescue”

And this is where agility came to the rescue to make it good enough. Small steps, openness, teamwork and the opportunity to experience and learn from its mistakes (retrospective) really help in our estimates. But only to mitigate our human defect !

Last keynote of the day with Elizabeth Hendrickson “Lessons Learned from 100 + Simulated agile transition.”

Elisabeth Hendrickson… a show, an extraordinary dynamism to report the observations and conclusions gained from 100 + simulated agile transitions, via Wordcount. WordCount is a simuation game that she has used with teams to simulate agile transition.

Elisabeth presented what makes the difference between a team that struggle and a succeeding team.

Teams that struggle have the following characteristics: no exchange with the customer, no visibility, nothing done, everything in progress, separate work areas…

Succeeding teams seek customer feedback early and often and are not afraid to demo something before it’s done. Customers provide examples and teams reinvent key engineering practices around feedback and visibility. They reshape their physical environment.

Results also shown behavioral patterns:

  • People add their own complexity and time pressure
  • Any transition results in Chaos (for a period of time)
  • The cry for control “things are out of control ! we have to get this under control”
  • Tools serve as an alignment tool
  • The use of communication solutions for visibility problems (you can’t see what is going on so you talk about it !)

At the end, Elisabeth provided also facilitators and coaches with a last advice:

“Trust the group”

Get out of the circle, give them the information they need and then step back. Don’t tell the team what to do.

The sessions = confirmations

My morning sessions were dedicated to ATDD (Acceptance Test Driven Development) with a focus on Robot Framework, a tool for test automation, through sessions of Thomas Jaspers (”Testing Web Applications in Practice …”) and Pekka Klarck (”ATDD using Robot Framework “).

ATDD using Robot Framework avec Pekka Klarck

ATDD using Robot Framework with Pekka Klarck

On the agenda: the willingness to show the excellent integration of Robot Framework with Hudson and Selenium in the first session, and good examples of test cases (BDD syntax or not) during the second session.

Interesting … Robot Framework seems to be the automation tool that much of the testing community seems to push. This tool is also popular here at Valtech Technology France :  afterwork , tutoriel, blogs or conférence

Confirmation in the morning, confirmation also in the afternoon with Geneva Murphy’s session, “Requirements in the agile world”.

Her session  was dedicated to requirements … and HP tools :)

Agile Requirements - Image ou Texte

Agile Requirements - Image or Text

4 axes for the session:

“Be lean, Iterate, Visualize, Collaborate “

Lean: think about the value of each asset to the team and the organization and how they can be reused. Organize the backlog and eliminate waste. Try to standardize.

Iterate: Incite feedback, promote collaboration and help find defects earlier

Visualize: With prototypes, screen mockup, business process flow and DEMO

Collaborate: Involve multiple stakeholders in the definition of requirements. Actively seek contributions of others. Negotiate and share information

… I agree! That said, I had the feeling that we stayed on the surface without addressing real expectations of the agile teams that I am coaching.

More interesting, the session of Ray Arell, « Waterfall to an agile testing Culture » with special attention on the role of the “cultural” dimension on an Agile transformation project.

Ray made a relevant comparison with the Thru-Hiker, a person who hikes a long distance trail from end to end (for example from Mexico to Canada, trekking 20 miles a day.

Agile Testing Culture - Ray Arell

Agile Testing Culture - Ray Arell

The agile developer / tester  and the Thru-Hiker both work to a monumental goal and do their best to insure that goal. They do iterative planning and execution. They’re both focused on incremental success. Same sustainable pace, same reasonable plan, same sense of risk avoidance.

In summary, without an Agile culture and its key elements (trust, collective ownership, sustainable pace, just enough process and proactive learning), it doesn’t work. I firmly agree, you need an environment of trust.

Scrum is currently a buzzword. I observe that too many organizations today want to do agile, for the benefits, but without making efforts and without questioning the organizational culture. Defacing agility and you’ll just get … poor results!

Here is my personal view : only efforts pay off; to get results, you have to work again and again … and make efforts! Agile Transformation is not an exception.

My ROTI (Return on Time Invested) for the day:

Return On Time Invested - 4

Return On Time Invested - 4

Mainly for the keynotes,  people and the global conference atmosphere

See also:

Agile Testing Days Report : Day 2

Agile Testing Days Report : Day 3 (OpenSpace)

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