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Agile Testing Days

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Agile Testing Days, the annual conference about testing professionals involved in the agile world, is taking place this week in Potsdam, Germany. This 6th edition includes a day of tutorials and three days of sessions, plus a pre-event on Sunday.

The keynote speakers in the first day included Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory, authors of "Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams" (Addison-Wesley, 2009), Roman Pichler, agile product management and Scrum expert, and Bob Marshall, product development manager at Falling Blossoms.

Strategy testing: building a product users want

Roman Pichler keynote, "Strategy testing: building a product users want", focused on the steps to design a product, from vision to strategy and details. Vision is more than an idea, it is an important step because, quoting Steve Jobs:

If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don't have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.

In order to know if a product will create value, Roman recommends:

  • Choose a clear cut, narrow segment.
  • Find an itch that is worth scratching.
  • Stand out from the crowd.
  • Have clear prioritized business goals.
  • Use a helpful tool for product strategy.

Then the strategy needs to be tested in a continuous process:

  1. Select the biggest risk.
  2. Decide how to address it.
  3. Collect the data.
  4. Analyze results and make changes.
  5. Go back to 1.

Risks need to be addressed with data and failure expectations. Because failure is part of the game, the environment needs to be tolerant.

In summary, Roman advices:

  • Work on products that you find exciting and meaningful.
  • It is not about building cool features, but a product to benefit people.
  • Life is too short to work on products that nobody really wants or uses.

The antimatter principle

Bob "The Flowchain Sensei" Marshall, delivered an impromptu keynote, talking about personal relations and agile methodologies, personal Kanban, theory X and theory Y, and non violent communication.

Personal Kanban uses the Kanban method to help people self organize their work, using just two simple rules:

  • Visualize your work.
  • Limit your work-in-progress.

Theory and Theory Y, are theories of human motivation, created and developed by Douglas McGregor at the MIT Sloan School of Management in the 1960s. In theory X, management assumes employees are inherently lazy and dislike work, therefore workers need to be closely supervised and controlled. In theory Y, management assumes employees may be ambitious, self-motivated and exercise self-control. People are trying to do a good job, and management just needs to remove the barriers that prevent them from doing it. In line with theory Y, people should not be forced into doing better, should be persuaded. Telling somebody "improve of get fired" will get no result, so they should be persuaded with reasons to be willing to do better.

Non violent communication is a communication process developed by Marshall Rosenberg beginning in the 1960s. It focuses in three aspects: self-empathy, empathy and honest self-expression, and has four components or steps:

  1. Objective observation: the facts.
  2. Feelings: how do you feel about those facts.
  3. Needs: interpret your needs based on those feelings, e.g. I feel sad because I need to live in a society where people is free.
  4. Request: make a decision based on the previous points.

Non violent communication is designed to improve compassionate connection to others, and has been applied in multiple settings, including organizational meetings and peace programs in conflict zones.

Agile Testing Days will continue with more sessions and keynotes until Thursday.

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