Let’s Test 2013 – Where unicorn tears are formed?

Let’s Test 2013 had a lot to live up to. I had heard so much about the previous conference, with people confidently saying that “Let’s Test is the Best Testing Conference in the World”. After going this year, I have to say, I 100% agree. Let me explain why I had the testing time of my life.

I had very high expectations; my goals going in were:
– Complete an entrance examination challenge set down my Miagi-Do Black Belt Instructor, Markus Gaertner
– To facilitate presentation sessions and further develop my facilitation skills
– To specifically meet Michael Bolton and form an impression of him (also to clone him, and bring him back to Sydney)
– To meet and bond with other testers who I had worked with on BBST and Bug Advocacy courses (Illari, Levi, Iain McCowatt, Markus)
– To sample the local beverages, network, and generally hang out causing some mischief
– To take part in challenges, games and entertainment

The presentations were very informative and showed off the depth of experience and testing talent that so many have. Here is a sample of the ones that moved me.

“Have your own methodology”
James Bach: Keynote on “How Do I know I am Context Driven?”
Some resonating points:
– CDT has 3 facets; paradigm, community and approach.
– Our community needs greeters and guides.
– Seek more than shallow-agreement, where important.
But most importantly for me, James spoke about how testers should have their own methodology. I was so happy to hear this, as I  have meet many testers who do not. I have recently announced my own which is about people, learning and mindsets. James’ keynote was an enjoyable topic, loaded with concepts that are critical to a tester in todays context. Every tester should view the slide deck, and the resources on the Satisfice site.

“Safety Language lesson”
Turorial: Michael Bolton’s “What’s the Problem?”
I enjoyed Michael’s approach to tutorials. At first they seem slow and cumbersome, but then things start unravelling at a faster pace. I liked the somewhat open group exercises which included not only having to put the question in to context, but also self-organise and get the group high performing. It was fun doing the triangle challenge at classroom level, as we got a load of different inputs to the problem. I will definitely be attending more of Michael’s classes and presentations.

“Test this”
Presentation: Test Planner by Louise Perold
I thoroughly enjoyed this presentation. I got to facilitate it, and take part a little. I absolutely love test ideas as a basis for test execution. Several years back, myself and a couple of other Kiwis had the idea of testing a brick at a conference workshop. Lou went one better than that and tested Beer! It went down a treat. And I suspect a lot of people went away with a load of new ideas to try as part of their methodology.

As well as classroom lessons, there was a lot of activity outside of presentations. For me, most of my learning and fun came from outside of the classroom. This is what I really got up to at Let’s Test.

“Paul, meet the Paul Holland of New Zealand” – James Bach
This was how James Bach introduced me to Paul Holland. Since that introduction, I think we have been best pals! Paul was a major highlight for me at this conference. As well as his great value humour and playing about, Paul is one heck of a smart and experienced tester. He showed me the ropes of facilitation and he and I formed a team in the test lab on the first night. I really enjoyed seeing his approach to testing, questioning in presentations, and performing his own presentation on metrics. I look forward to working with Paul again at CAST 2013.

“Richard, your Miagi-Do challenge is…” – Markus Gaertner
This was my biggest highlight of Let’s Test. It’s true that what happens outside of the presentations can also have much value. I had heard of Miagi-Do before, but knew little more than that. When I heard part of the examination was a physical testing challenge, something ignited in me. I pressed Markus in the days leading up to Let’s Test for my challenge. One day, Markus came over to me and told me to recruit a team, test a product in the test lab, and report. I loved this idea, and went to work immediately. I was lucky enough to recruit a very high-performing team of four (Erik Bricarp, Guy Mason(@testingqa), Peter H-L, and Ida Waller(@Linix81) ). I was so lucky to have such a dedicated team who questioned, supported each other, and were enthusiastic. The debrief with Markus and the team was emotional for me. The feedback confirmed what I was actually trying to achieve. The secret to a high performing team for me is to drive the correct mindset, empower the members, and don’t forget to have fun. My unwritten goal is to have people smile as they work. Now that is hard to do! I am writing a separate experience report for this challenge, as it has had quite an effect on me.

“Later that night we tied and gagged Bolton”
Well that’s not entirely accurate. But perhaps 30 of us were engaged in the “Mind Reading Challenge” starring Paul Holland and Michael Bolton. We thought we were truly on to something when we had Michael hands behind his back, face down on the table and not allowed to talk. Read his mind now, Paul! And, alas, he did. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Come to a conference and ask. It’s a lot of frustration and fun.

James Bach one-on-one
I enjoy “alone” time with James. He is inspiring and has a wonderful depth of knowledge on pretty much every topic under testing. I decided to give up the presentation about firing 2nd rate testers, and joined James for some quiet time. We ended up continuing the Mind Reader challenge, and I finally made some progress and got it. I still need to practice, but look forward to adding this to my challenge tool kit for others to learn from.

I enjoyed facilitating. Sporting that pretty pink jacket made me feel super important, like Barbie. I felt I was “taking care” of the attendees and presenter. I learned that it was okay to cut off steamy debates, and long threads in the interest of time. I also realised that if a discussion was really that interesting, then it would continue outside of the classroom in person, and on twitter. Paul attended all my sessions, and helped me a lot with his follow-up comments. Kai Pai my man.

“Mine’s bigger than yours”
It was great hanging out with my Nikon brother (same body model), Martin Nilsson (@MartinNilsson8). I enjoyed taking breathtaking photos of the conference and the surrounds. He may have had bigger kit, but mine had deeper penetration. The proof will be in the photos I guess.

Pink Jacket Brigade
The colour went with no other garment, they looked like american baseball jackets, but they were awesome. I enjoyed wearing the jacket, it filled me with a little pride of taking a larger part of Let’s Test. And it was a nice touch to stand up the front at the end for applause.

I’m not one for metrics, but my twitter followers increased by 100 after attending Let’s Test. That’s a great measure of “getting around” at a conference 🙂

There is magic at Let’s Test. It may very well be where unicorn tears are formed. I believe that the reason for the success is its location, and the people invited. Initially, I thought ~50% of Swedes attending was a lot. But actually, to put it another way – there were 50% of internationals attending! That is incredible. And it helps we are all stuck together with nothing to do but socialise and talk testing for 3 days.

I completed all my objectives, and added some more items which were unexpected, but very welcomed.

A big thanks go to all those who helped produce this event, especially Henrik and Johan.

What is next for me? (It’s turning into a huge year!)
This is next up, on 5/6 July, in Wellington, New Zealand. It will be great to be at home again.

Sydney Tester Meetup
I will be presenting a visual presentation of Let’s Test 2013 at the July Sydney Testers Meetup. It will highlight the fun had, content & resource links, and the information shared. It is free to join and attend. This will probably be published on the Let’s Test channel.

I will be attending this invite-only event in Sydney this year.

Tasting Let’s Test
I will be running the test lab, on Monday 5 August. Details and registration can be found here: http://lets-test.com/. The best time to register is NOW. I am able to offer a decent discount on the ticket price to my network members. Add me on Twitter and Skype, and I can provide this to you.

CAST 2013
I look forward to attending CAST later in August in a facilitation role. It will be great to catch up with those I met at Let’s Test, and meet even more new wonderful talented testers.

Richard Robinson

About Richard Robinson

Richard is a thought-leader in testing strategies, and an inspiring test manager. His philosophy is "better, faster, cheaper" testing that pushes the maximum business value and product quality out of a product. This approach not only satisfies the end user, but also brings a high return on testing investment to the customer. Richard is the President of the Sydney Testers Meetup group, and holds a black belt in the Miagi-do school of software testing. He also contributes to the testing community through blogs, forums, online testing events, facilitating international peer workshops and conferences.

3 thoughts on “Let’s Test 2013 – Where unicorn tears are formed?

  1. Thanks Sigge and Simon. I can’t wait for the testing love to continue at other conference this year. There are still so many people to get to know out there, including you two 🙂

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