Monday, May 30, 2011

Workshop at STP Conference

 I attended a workshop prior to the STP Conference in Nashville called "Creating & Leading a High Performance Test Organization".  Bob Galen was the presenter.

Bob did a great job presenting a ton of material.  Honestly much of the material seemed like common sense, however the information was packaged nicely.  The material served as that gentle kick in the pants to remind you that you that as test leaders we need to revisit our foundations.

Tons of things were covered including recruiting, out sourcing, marketing test, defect management, leadership and communication.  I am going to focus in on two topics.

Effective Communication

Mr. Galen talked about knowing your audience and adopting their point of view.  This makes sense if you have some idea of who the person you are talking to is and what they do.  Even in this happy path situation how you phrase your communication can be extremely complex.  What happens if you meet the person for the very first time?  How do you get their point of view into context?

My conclusion to effective communication is that it is really hard.  We must always work on our communication skills.  Somehow in a conversation you must size up the moment.  In other words put some context around the current environment both setting and mood of the participants.

Bob's second point of "active listening" is probably the key to effective communication.  One approach might be to break the ice with an introducing statement, then carefully listen to the response.  Somehow we must grab the clues that help us to know our audience.  Honestly I tend not to be very good at the active listening part.  Just ask my wife!

One other point Bob had was "can your audience handle the truth and how much of the truth".  This is a tough one for me.  I have an opinion and I tend to share it regardless of the impact on the audience.  As a communicator I need to learn to be more judicious with my opinion and determine how much of the truth is appropriate for audience at hand.

Effective communication is critical in everything we do.   It is not easy and communication is something we can always improve upon.


At this work shop there was some interesting discussion around defects.  When to document defects and when not to document them.  One person in the audience felt it was critical to document every defect.  Others felt that there are times when it is appropriate not to spend the time documenting a defect.  I shall not continue this debate here, but I thought Bob had a couple of great points in his material.

"A good report is written, numbered, simple, understandable, reproducible, legible and non-judgmental."   I agree with this statement, but there is one attribute that stood out for me, non-judgmental.  As testers we need to do our best to remove emotion from a defect report.  We should be concise, state the discovery process, and add supporting material as facts.

Bob also provided a list of styles testers should consider putting together a defect report.

1. Condense–Say it clearly but briefly
2. Accurate–Is it truly a defect?
3. Neutralize–Just the facts
4. Precise–Explicitly, what is the problem?
5. Isolate–What has been done to isolate the problem?
6. Generalize–How general is the problem?
7. Re-create–essential environment, steps, conditions
8. Impact –To the customer, to testing, safety?
9. Debug–Debugging materials (logs, traces, dumps,
environment, etc.)
10.Evidence–Other documentation proving existence

I felt like this was a pretty good reminder of how to write an effective defect report.  Perhaps I can develop this into a little acronym - CAN-PIG-RIDE. 

I need to do a better job of effective communication and part of that effort is making sure defect reports are communicated effectively.

Happy Testing!

No comments: