My story with Test Leadership Congress began when I found out their Call For Papers. And as my journey with leadership just started I was very excited to both share and hear other stories. For the first time, I had a Skype call after Call For Papers to discuss my proposal. In the end, I was invited by Anna Royzman to participate in this event and learn from speakers with impressive experiences. Still, it isn’t that easy to get to the other continent to gain some knowledge, so I’m very grateful that my company decided to cover my expenses. Objectivity is very supportive in my pursuit of more knowledge and experiences which makes my company very unique.
During my time in New York I was able to attend Alan Page workshops – Managing the Modern Tester and The Community Builder’s Guidebook. This was my first encounter with the person behind Angry Weasel blog and ABTesting podcast. Those workshops were nothing like anything I’ve experienced. They were very interactive with jumping between the topics and problems we (as participants) felt that were important. There were a lot of lessons learned during both sessions, but I would like to share the one per each session.
During “Managing the Modern Tester” Alan shared with us his “Manager Read Me” file. It was a contract he wrote and then shared with his testers. Alan encouraged us to find out what is our style of leadership or management and write it down. I think that following this advice might be an interesting journey of self-discovery with benefits for the persons I will be responsible for.
When it comes to “The Community Builder’s Guidebook” my mind just blown at the very beginning of the session. Alan introduced us with “World of Warcraft Community Style”. As a very loyal player of this game, I was like “Wait, what?”. So let me explain You this concept and comparison. So in World of Warcraft we have a massive amount of players and we have challenges that require a force of 5, 10 or more players. And there are two ways of facing the challenges: form a guild of players to face them over and over again or search for the companions on the open channel only for this one-time attempt. And this is how communities work. You may form something that should be long-term grouping with a common goal – then it is a good idea to set up a set of rules, overline the goal, make it tempting, assign the way of communication and the timeline. But there is also a possibility to create a short-term community to face a specific challenge, and after we are done we can either choose another challenge or disband – just like a World of Warcraft group. This was innovative for me because often we think of community as something everlasting and sometimes we keep them up even when they are no longer needed.
Next day there were many interesting presentations and stories, but again the highlight of the day was hands-on experiences – both workshop with Gitte Kiltgaard and “Technical lab trials of new technologies” prepared by Anna and judged by Alan. It was a super fun time with technologies I was presented for the first time – drones, VR and augmented reality. Including the first time ever that I was preparing a test plan.
Next day had only one track, and I’m glad it did because all presentations were super interesting. Two of them were especially appealing to me. First one was “Millenials in Software Testing” by Sheekha Singh. Of course, it could be translated into “Young in Software Testing”, and the message was very simple – people from young generation works differently than the older generation. Yet it is something to be remembered in both recruitment of young people and team setup.
The second presentation was “Implementing Context Driven Testing Keeps Kicking My Ass – But I Think I’m Finally Winning!” by Nancy Kelln. No surprise there – I’m a huge fan of CDT even though I’ve never worked in such environment. Her story inspired me that not only it is possible to have CDT in high-risk projects, moreover You can still keep valuable reports and even, as in Nancy’s stories, save organizations and their multi-million dollar projects from failing. At the moment I’m gathering my forces and see if I will be able to follow in her footsteps in CDT implementation failure 🙂
Again the day ended with a mind-blowing thing. Anna suggested a “Leaders Peer Workshop” which were essentially problem-solving quadrats. We, as participants and speakers, were divided into the groups of 4 and in those groups one by one we shared the biggest challenge we are currently facing. With every necessary detail, we could share to provide the big picture. The rest of the group were there to listen and discuss the problem. And You know what? In most cases, we ended up the discussion with a possible solution to the problem! My problem included. How awesome is that?
As mentioned at the beginning I was invited to this conference as a simple participant. Yet during the first day of the conference, I found out that one of the speakers could not make it and there is an empty slot. So second day I’ve talked to Anna and decided to fill this spot. I’ve even decided to prepare a completely new presentation based on Anna’s idea of what should happen. So there it was – “Tests in the Future” by Kamila Mrozek!
The conference gathered many great minds, so the idea was to make my audience to come up with the challenges that future may hold within both tests and test leadership. As a huge fan of CDT, I’ve decided to give them context instead of keeping them in the world of abstract. The details of my performance You can read here.
I consider this performance a unique experience in my whole life. I prepared a presentation (or rather an interactive session) in one day and then I’ve delivered it with only a small and manageable amount of stress. The whole credit should go to both organizers and participants. I would have never done that if I wouldn’t feel safe there. I felt welcomed, supported and not judged at all. People had their minds open and they were listening. Also – no scores and no feedback papers. If someone wanted to say something good or bad they just approached speaker, organizer or volunteer and said it. Simple, yet so unique from other conferences I attend. Well done!
Test Leadership Congress was nothing I’ve expected. It was better. I was used to huge conferences with many exhibitors, a large number of participants and strong branding. And this conference was like “Cut the bullsh*t”. Literally! It was just brilliant – all about the content and people. Anna managed to gather small (in comparison to what I was used to) group of participants, but all of them were a strong group of experts in their field. In Poland, we have a problem, that we have a conference for beginners and intermediates, but there is not much space for advanced problems. I guess this is the way.
This conference was also all about unique experiences. I can say that in my whole life I was never a part of so naturally diverse group of people. It was an absolutely amazing experience – to be so different on so many levels and yet be so alike, what was proven during our discussions, exercises and problem sharing.