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Agile Testing Days 2011: Days 2… a report

Posted by jc-Qualitystreet on 2011/11/26

DAY 1 was just amazing… see my previous report: Agile Testing days: Day 1 What a fabulous day!

… to me the second day of the conference was less intense.  Keynotes were great but I was a bit disappointed by some sessions I attended…

Esther Derby People & Patterns (Keynote)

According to Esther, a basic problem is that system problems are usually associated with persons and persons with problems attributed to systems.

« If you really want to create change in the organization you can’t only look at events you need to look for patterns »

Esther said that within one team, one can find several groups, several patterns and structures almost invisible.

Then she explained how Agile can help the organization to identify the existing patterns. According to her, there is a necessity to understand patterns of behaviors, then to shift the pattern. Her approach consists in collecting the factors (neutral and potentially measurable), brainstorm them, diagramming the effects, then identify patterns and look underneath the events.

And, always wondering WHY (the most powerful question)…

Interesting quotes:

« In the business world you are paid to be decisive. It’s better to be certain and wrong than uncertain and right. »

« If you want to see what’s going on, you don’t watch the person who’s speaking – you watch the others in the group. »

« Focus on people never brings change »


A good keynote but not as inspiring as the others.

Raquel Jimenez-Garrido « ATDD and SCRUM Integration from a traditional Project methodology »

An attractive title and the description looked good in the program but after 15 minutes still nothing about ATDD and SCRUM! Worst, 30 minutes after the beginning of the session Raquel was still in the process to describe elements of context! We understood that her team had a lot of motives to change…

Then, she explained the difficulty to achieve the change of methodology, described the problems they faced (for example during a sprint0) showed the Product Backlog used, and discussed the selection of the tools.


Her conclusion:

« The application of ATDD techniques was key to improving product quality due to the nature of the project »

Stevan Zivanovic « Do we just Manage or do we lead »

Stevan clearly made a distinction between leadership and management, with these two definitions

  • The leader is a person who rules, guides and inspires other
  • The manager is a person who has the control or the direction of an institution, business business, etc., or of a part, division, or phase of it


The talk focused on leadership, what makes a good leadership and its various dimensions…

« Don’t need to be a manager to lead « …

Of course, you don’t,  but personally I expect my managers to be good leaders too, and many agile teams also expect it from the middle management.


The elements presented by Stevan were interesting:  the different levels of contexts (culture, organization, team, you…) and what it takes to be an effective leader… But, the radical distinction (I perceived) between manager and leader didn’t make me comfortable. And I was not surprised that at the end of the talk, one person of the audience asked this essential question :

« What is the role of managers in Agile? »

The link between agile management and leadership was not clearly stated. To me (see this blog post on agile & lean management) the Agile Manager needs to show leadership especially for three major activities:

  • Create a relationship of trust, develop an motivate people
  • Create an environment of success and energize change which means communicate the vision, give a direction, adopt the appropriate style of management (see Jurgen Appelo, 7 levels of delegation)…
  • Initiate, support and animate communities of practices

This is what I observe during my agile coaching activities but things I didn’t hear during the talk… However, Stevan is a good speaker and session was good.

Elizabeth Keogh « Haiku, Hypnosis and discovery: How the mind makes model » (keynote)

Elisabeth encouraged, during an interactive introduction, the attendees to create their own Haiku and to discover the Haiku moment (the moment when our mind makes a model)…


The most famous Haiku :

Furuike ya

Kawazu Tobikomu

Mizu no oto

In english:

Old pond

a frog jumps in-

The sound of water


Then still in a very interactive mode, she did hypnotherapy on stage (with @huibschoots)…


Interesting to see.

« The contexts depend on the context »

According to Elizabeth, we observe data, we filter data, we generate assumptions, we draw conclusion, we build beliefs based on pattern. The problem is that the filters we use are based on our beliefs!  When I change my beliefs I change… Very inspiring.

Then Elisabeth discussed the art of BREAKING THE MODELS and Real options (to me, a very efficient tool), and how this approach helps us to give us different models….

Fran O’Hara « Effective Agile Test management »

Once again a session dedicated to management (testing management oriented)

Some elements of the pitch attracted me like « Test managers want to know what happens to their role when teams are self-empowered and what a test management process looks like in agile context »… and Fran went straight to the point (I really liked it) on the first part of his talk.

« What the test managers do in Agile? »


Very interesting (cultural shift, mindset shift, servant leadership, culture of leaning….)

Fran listed the responsibilities of the Test manager :

  • Support tester capability within the agile team
  • Remove organizational obstacles
  • Agile test Startegy
  • Agile Test process
  • Test tool standardization

To me, the first category « Support tester capability within the agile team » (from firing to training, career development, performance to community of practice) was just too large. It probably needed to be split and discussed more in details…

Then, Fran discussed Agile Test strategies, Test management Process, Test management Issues (including metrics)… Good but … he spoke often too fast for the French attendee that I am 🙂 Therefore he was in the hurry at the end of his talk!

His slide with the « do and don’t » was a good summary: I appreciated.


Cecile Davis « Get your agile test process in control »

Another session related to management. Cecile wanted to talk about control, « tight grip or let go? », and the need for management to find a balance between these two extremes.


Cecile led the audience through an interactive exercise to find the balance between trust and control (blind / Seeing pairing), a kind of exercise sometimes used in agile training. During the second exercise audience was split in three large (too large?) groups to find out and generate, from a vision and business goals (based on the IKEA brochure), product properties. Well, I didn’t really see the link with agile management, control… not so good.

Gojko Adzic   » 5 Key challenges for Agile testers tomorrow » (keynote)

A really interactive session with the most influential tester of the year… and real showman!


Technology evolves, things change fast and so, according to Gojko, testers are now facing new challenges:

1. Shorter delivery phases

Gojko first introduced the « Flickr » example with its frequent deliveries (multiple times a day).

Multiple deliveries

Multiple times a day

Frequent releases (for example every 2 weeks) are not only a trend. There is no crazy website anymore. It’s now a reality that obviously impacts the testing activity.

« At the moment you have done testing more than you need »

« We need to accept certain risks »

To help us, Gojko introduced the Agile Risk Donut…


« If only have 2 sec to eat something which part do you eat? »

In addition to the risk based testing, you need to engage business people, identify business goals and understand where risks are. A good tool for that is « attributes capabilities matrix » by James Whitaker.

2. Agile is now mainstream

Agile is now everywhere with an important inconvenient: we lose more and more the meaning of what is being agile. And often when going agile, the BA becomes the PO, the Project manager becomes the ScrumMaster… and yeah…

« We do Scrum! »

So when working with people, we need to make then ADOPT the principles and ADAPT the practices.

3. (Provide) faster feedback

Faster feedback is not only good but needed. Gojko gave us an example of situation where the tester becomes the bottleneck (doing testing for all programmers) and the way to solve the problem by making the tester teach exploratory testing to developers…

« Your job is to teach the people how to test »

It accelerates the feedback

4. Large enterprise projects

Many companies are trying this scalability. What to do if we need to scale? Actually we need different ways to scale. A good option, according to Gojko is to refer to context mapping (element of DDD, Domain Driven Design, see Eric Evans’s book, from chap 14 🙂 ). For being involved as an agile coach in such a large projects, I can recommend you Craig Larman/ Bas Vodde approach which is an excellent starting point.

5. Validating Business not software

There is now a huge push in the software value output but

« How do we see we’re delivering business value? »

« How to figure out where is the value? »

Two things help:

  • Effects maps, a very powerful tool, introduced by Gojko the day before
  • Measuring, the key, and for example crucial in the lean Startup approach (Eric Ries)

The good point is that the testing community becomes to be important to the business (to draw the context and to measure)


Gojko provided us with a useful summary at the en of his talk:

  • adopt principles and adapt practices (I really like that one)
  • teach others how to test
  • help business define and validate actionable metrics
  • look at risk/ value areas. Visualize it!
  • draw up contexts to inform testing

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