PEST2: Bug Chase

One of the things I mentioned in my presentation at PEST was the “bug chase” idea. I would categorize it under “fun things to do with your team to get the adrenaline running”.

Back in February somebody IMd me about a strange bug he had seen but couldn’t really reproduce. Since the effects of the bug seemed important and it affected critical business flows, it was logical for me that we as a team should act swiftly.

I felt that it would be a good idea to shake things up a bit and pose a challenge for a couple of testers. Depending on the workload, I allow or then curb distractions, shake-ups, or any other interventions to our work. If we have a good pace and things get done quickly, it’s good to pop in something fun. If there are a lot of things going on and tasks are pouring in, it is still a good idea to pop something in. It just might be something less time consuming.

In this case, I came up with a bug chase which ended up being a duel. If you want to include more testers, go ahead. There shouldn’t be any limits.

So… both got the same amount of limited second-hand information from me, both were familiar with this business flow.

If I remember correctly, I limited the time to 1 hour.

Ready, set, go! Who will be able to reproduce the bug first? Infinite glory will be yours.

A bit later one of them cheered and let us know that he got the steps. The other tester found another pretty interesting bug that is difficult to find (a kind of edge case but it was in an area that is at the heart of the product).

I was really pleased and excited because, for one, a certain important area got a lot of attention and depth in testing. Also, the feedback from them was positive and they liked this friendly competition.

Obviously, as a team lead you don’t want to put two people up against each other who don’t get along. Luckily, I don’t have this problem and the two testers get a long very well working together, sharing ideas, and supporting each other.

This exercise also gave me the confidence that I can approach them like this. Of course, I can’t crash the party when somebody has thoroughly focused on something.

So, if the atmosphere and the timing are right, the relationships are good, and the people understand that they will not be evaluated, the bug chase can contribute to team work and learning (what better way to compare the approaches when debriefing afterwards!).

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PEST 2: Taking One for the Team – First Impressions

I kind of want to say “PEST was awesome as usual” but then again…. it was only the second event we held.

I’m glad Kristjan took it upon himself to organize the event (and the catering :)). And thanks to Oliver for doing the labour-intensive job of a facilitator.

As always, I was a bit hesitant when I saw the topic (Taking One for the Team) and the questions to be answered. Somehow the stupid voice in my head said “well… I don’t have anything to say”. Despite this I did some thinking and the story I came up with was about creating my first team. Unexpectedly, I received a lot of questions and heard that some of my ideas were useful for others as well. I will blog about the “hot topics” of my presentation and expand on them.

Oh, I’ll be sure to think of the feedback when I have my moments of doubt. It really makes me feel there are people out there who listen, think along, and give support. This is probably the most awesome outcome of PEST besides the influx of new ideas.

The overall highlights for me:

  • Harles’s presentation about fighting against something without appearing to be up in arms. This one really rang a bell and I need to think about this more. It is very difficult to not reject the orders from above when they’re presented in that top-down manner which doesn’t really consider you as a thinking human being. It really is about the power relationships. I have been thinking about what to do because I know that my reputation among some of my foreign colleagues is not top notch precisely because I can’t be easily bent into doing things (that I don’t really agree with). They probably can’t deny what I’ve done but maybe I can be more pleasant (and then also more effective with people). It’s a fine balance, though. Retaining my integrity is extremely important for me but maybe I can find ways to react better and change people’s minds without saying “no” to them off the bat.
  • Aare’s presentation about a long-term project and the troubles with it was a topic up my alley as well. The danger of regression testing becoming unbearable is something that I actively try to deal with. My team is going to face a growing amount of regression testing so I try to monitor the boredom levels and also the effectiveness of testing.
  • Ülar’s contemplation of being a one-man-army… oh yes, sounds familiar. This situation reminds of the importance of motivation. Or rather, finding out and learning about the mechanisms that drive you. Really, know yourself.
  • Raimond’s approach to ordering a tool (or any other piece of software you need) didn’t seem to click with my work until yesterday. Then I learned that my team will have a developer assigned to assist us. So this is where I can work off Raimond’s approach. Describe it. Break it down. Review it. I think this will prove useful for me too. However, the teamwork and communication part made me think of ways how to facilitate better communication. Maybe, one fine day, I’ll be doing video conferences as well.
  • Ervin and the effectiveness of the work he does really makes me want to look into my team’s and my own work  processes to see if I can make it more effective. Automating something immediately is not possible but I will be asking for a lot more testability to be built into the product.
  • Not that I didn’t know how Rasmus works before… but now I definitely know better. And I have been wondering how we could employ this “jump in to impress” tactics better. Obviously, we don’t have to and sometimes can’t do it… but I’d like to have this competence in my team.

Overall, I think it was a great conference. It’s a very intriguing mind game to imagine if we all would work in the same company…. Kristjan thought that then we’d feel too good about ourselves and would really have to go out there to look for failures and problems to understand what we could do better.

Truly, to get thoroughly motivated, PEST will get you worked up!

See also: http://www.testerstower.com/?p=197 and http://www.testerstower.com/?p=202