Wednesday, July 20, 2011

James Bach at STP Conference in Nashville

I can honestly state that the reason I have not been blogging lately is James Bach.  Just kidding of course, but he certainly inspired me with his keynote "Notes from a Testing Coach".  I have been extremely busy mentoring, learning, implementing, collaborating, testing, and innovating.  It has been extremely fun and I owe the energy to Mr. James Bach.

In his key note he opened by explaining the three kinds of practical credentials: portfolio (your past work), performance (demonstrating your ability), and reputation (stories told about you).  All of these things combine to establish credibility.  Testers should actively work on their portfolio.  Testers should consistently demonstrate their skills.  If you do these two things well hopefully "good" stories will be told about you.

James mentioned one of the things that can get in the way of mentoring are feelings.  He is very accurate in this assessment.  Once you go beyond feelings testers have the ability to leap tall buildings with a single bound.

The coaching process involves building relationships, challenges, allowing things to happen, retrospective or diagnosis of the problem, and collaboration.  There will be set backs as well as celebration of success. 

I recently visited London and I found myself hearing the words "Mind the Gap" in my sleep.  I remember Mr. Bach saying "mind the syllabus".  My interpretation of these words months after the keynote is as a mentor you should have a plan for teaching just has you should have a plan for Session Based testing.  I may have this way out of context at this point, so I will need to do some research.

James also talked about as a mentor you must be prepared to demonstrate to the student what you might do.  In other words, you may get to a point in your mentoring where you have to roll up your sleeves and lead by example.

Another huge lesson from this key note was his demonstration of the hidden picture.  I think the main point was to mess with his brother, but the demonstration illustrated how a tester can explore, change focus, change approach or technique, get reasonable coverage rapidly, yet not find a potentially large defect.

James gave an over view of the dice game.  I had inquired via email to James on how to execute the dice game.  Through email collaboration I got a reasonable idea of the intent of the game, but I was extremely fortunate to be able to learn more about this game in person with his brother Jon.  This hands on experience had a huge impact on me.  The conversation and the approaches Jon took clearly illustrated how testers can benefit by rapidly assessing patterns.  I now try to show this game to every tester I encounter.  I think it is fun and most importantly in invokes thought.  I even went to a local game store and bought the Cast Elk puzzle.  I have yet to solve it!  I keep trying but no success.  I know the answer is on You Tube, but I refuse to cave in.  During my travels I now buy puzzle books and attempt puzzles I never thought I could do.  I am extremely amazed at how fun learning and challenging yourself can be.  Thanks James and Jon for this inspiration.  Jon also turned me on to a site,

This is some of the value I took away from this key note presentation.  There was much more content that I do not recall. I can honestly say that this key note presentation was a true inspiration to me.  Not only as a tester, but in my every day life. 

A huge "Nice Bike" to James for the key note and to Jon for taking the time to experience the dice game with me.

Dice game ROCKS!

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