Sunday, August 23, 2015

What did I learn at CAST 2015?

I attended my fist CAST in Grand Rapids, MI.  What did I learn?

I learned that it takes an extremely dedicated group of people to run an organization such as AST.  Several key board members were stepping down while a new set of energized members were stepping in.  Unfortunately, I could not vote, but looking in, the election process seemed balanced, quick, and successful.  I would like to thank the leaders stepping down, Michael Larson, Markus Gartner, & Peter Walen.  I would like to encourage the new leadership who are dedicating their time, Eric Proegler, Ilari Henrik Aegerter, and Roxane Jackson.

I learned that it takes a ton of dedication and energy to pull off a great CAST conference.  What a fantastic job by Peter Walen.  He had a few bumps in the road that very few would even know who occurred and he handled them like a magician.  I do regret that I did not find the time to have a cold beverage or two with Pete, but he was busy and the conference energy was high.

I learned that facilitators "ROCK".  This conference leverages the LAWST style of running a meeting.  Every participant had unique cards (red, green, and yellow).  The participants used the cards and the facilitators keep the process organized and meaningful.  Red cards were for urgent questions or concerns.  Green cards were for new conversation threads.  Yellow cards were used to keep an engaged dialog moving.  I would like to thank all of those who volunteered, especially Alex Bantz, who facilitated our session.  Every conference should consider this style of facilitation.

I learned that activities that were tangental to the actual conference were crucial to the learning experience.  I met some amazing people sitting on the couches at the hotel.  I have great conversations over meals.  One of the most amazing conversations was in the hallway with Karen Johnson.  I learned a more effective way to hold Lean Coffee.  I would like to thank Matt Heusser for facilitating the Lean Coffee and those who actively participated.

I learned that there is a lot going on in the field of software testing and that there is a ton more to do.  I am currently trying to figure out how I can help make an impact.  Honestly, I have a ton of reflection to do to figure out where I stand on some of the issues.  This is definitely a future post.  One of the key takeaways for all to consider is that we need to do a much better job of education in our profession.

I learned that our profession is a bit fragmented in approach and opinion.  This is also a future blog post, but after some reflection I think this is a healthy situation.

Conferences can be exhausting!  If you are fully engaged and attempting to maximize your experience, you should be exhausted.  I was totally exhausted, but I am looking forward to my next conference.

I have a ton of things on my mind because CAST inspired me.   Hopefully, I will find more time to write these thoughts.

Happy Testing!