Aaron’s KWST3 brain dump

Before it all leaves my head, here’s a dump of my thoughts after spending two days in a peer conference with the following amazing people:

  • Katrina Edgar
  • Oliver Erlewein
  • Rich Robinson
  • Brian Osman
  • Anne Marie Charrett
  • Jennifer Hurrell
  • Erin Donnell
  • Katrina McNicholl
  • Andrew Robins
  • Mike Talks
  • Tessa Benzie
  • Alesasandra Moreira
  • James Hailstone
  • Lee Hawkins
  • Damian Glenny
  • Shirley Tricker
  • Joshua Raine
  • Colin Cherry

The theme was ““Lighting the way; Educating others and ourselves about software testing –  (raising a new generation of thinking creative testers)”

For me, the three major themes and takeaways were:

  1. How I think about community. Do we create the appearance of a clique when we try to build a community? Is one person’s group of like minded people who share ideas another person’s exclusive club of connected people?  I wonder if exclusiveness is an unfortunate but inevitable side-effect of inclusiveness. That is, you can’t feel excluded from something if there is nothing to be excluded from. But once you create something, eg a community, a culture, a meetup group, then there now exists something to be excluded from.  Shirley Tricker’s ER, and discussions at the KWST/WeTest meetup after day 1 got me thinking about this.
  2. How I think about perceptions. I learnt that people can feel belittled, sneered at, put down by others in the community. I learnt that I am probably one of those that makes people feel this way.  This chilled me to the bone.  I wonder if the foot soldiers are being punished for the crimes of their generals. By attacking what people do, and what they are doing without knowing an alternative, it seems like I’m attacking the person. This ties into theme 1 as well.  By labelling myself a “CDTester” or something similar, am I creating a circle around myself that excludes others?
  3. The grounds for change are fertilised by the blood of beaten testers.  Nearly everyone’s ER about learning and growth involved stories of feeling out of their depth and feelings of inadequacy. At one point, the group was asked “hands up if you’ve ever felt like a fraud?”  Nearly everyone’s hands went up.  It seems like conflict (internal or external) is the catalyst for curiosity (Thanks Tessa, Ale, and Erin in particular for their stories around this).


Some quotes and other things I had written down:

Anne-Marie Charrett spoke about developing a post-graduate testing course at the University of Technology Sydney

“Teaching testing is about teaching students how to ask questions”

Modules were:

  • Modelling
  • Test Strategy
  • Critical thinking
  • State Models
  • Tools and Testability
  • Exploratory testing
  • Reporting and Communication

Ratio was 1 hour online; 2 hours practical in class

Number 1 issue was students didn’t know how to communicate

First class was on critical thinking. This lays the groundwork for the rest of the content.

“You’re hiring a testing expert; I need complete autonomy over my testing” – Anne-Marie


Tessa spoke about her self-awareness that she felt like a fraud.

She had a model: Dispel the Myth, or Harness the Myth.

Harnessing the myth can be the catalyst for change. eg: the myth that I’m a fraud can be harnessed and I can use that energy to self-educate etc.

“Self awareness brings clarity” – Unknown


Shirley spoke about coaching testers at her place of work.  She relayed that graduate testers often felt belittled, put down and sneered at by more experienced testers who are trying to challenge the status quo of testing.  She described how testers desired the ISTQB certification because it gave them the perception of credibility in others’ eyes.  She observed that those that didn’t have degrees or qualifications desired ISTQB the most.

During open season, Oliver said that when he recruited testers he got better testers when he recruited for junior positions than for senior positions.  Dunning-Kruger effect perhaps?


I interpreted Colin’s ER about Platinum vs bronze projects, as putting testers onto projects that were within their zone of proximal development.


Ale’s ER involved a model she had come up for self-development.  She’s going to blog about it. (This is your second public ‘outing’, you really have to do it now, Ale 🙂 )

“Networking is a great support system” – Ale

“Look for people who are dissatisfied” – unknown


Mike’s ER:

Mike and his son with Shield and Axe

’nuff said!


Erin’s ER blew everyone away. Again, the themes of feelings of inadequacy and having the self-awareness to harness that into a catalyst for seeking knowledge.  It fit Ale’s model wonderfully. She sought community, education, etc.


Katrina’s was on her reactions to a presentation at the government test professionals forum, and the apathy of the audience to what they were hearing. The discussion that ensued focussed on how you ‘get people angry’ or dissatisfied enough to create change both within themselves and the environment around them.


Then we played with Robots!

BOdMMzMCcAAgdz6.jpg large

A testing conference where there was TESTING!


Lee spoke about challenging the status quo at an outsourced testing centre in China. Interesting to hear about SBTM used in an off-shored environment.


And then finally we heard from Andrew Robins from Tait radio who told the story of how they became a fully 100% Context-Driven testing shop in a mission-critical and life-or-death industry.  I loved that testers at Tait get 4 hours a week for self development.


An incredible two days, and everyone was left exhausted.  Here ends brain dump.

Author: Aaron Hodder

ps:  How many testing conferences have people actually testing?

Andrew describing his tests

7 thoughts on “Aaron’s KWST3 brain dump

  1. Regarding your comment on how Shirley said that testers desire the ISTQB qualification because it gives the impression of credibility to others. Wouldn’t that partially be affected by the fact that some clients insist on it? (that’s what I heard)
    Maybe some people like having ‘evidence’ on knowing the basics/terminology of software testing?

    On another note, I like how you stated your 3 key takeaways from KWST 🙂 it’s great to see how insightful you are (have also noted that on your feedback at Toastmasters)

    • @Nicola: Yes, some clients “insist” on ISTQB. I am sure if they had a clearer picture of what they were signing up to they wouldn’t. If they really mean it though I’d suggest thinking twice about wanting to work there.

      The thing is, that ISTQB is neither evidence nor contains THE “basics/terminology of software testing”. ISTQB is only one aspect of software testing. The certification conveys the fallacy that there is such a thing as one terminology and one true source of software testing truth. Rather it is a very limited, checking oriented way of looking at testing. It can close the mind to new ideas and the realisation that testing is a continuing learning exercise.

      I stipulate that ISTQB certification is evidence only of being able to learn something off-by-heart.

      From what I see, the only reason people have testing certifications is not to fail the 1st filter of HR when applying for a new job. I have yet to meet a tester with ISTQB certification, that stands by it’s testing virtues (i ask this in employment interviews too).

      btw, ask the people if BBST (http://www.associationforsoftwaretesting.org/training/) was a course that helped them become a better tester. You will only get an enthusiastic YES. And to my shame I have to admit not having done it myself yet. Note that although it is so good it makes no claim to be a certification nor to be the be-all & end-all of testing.

      • I’ve been told great things about the BBST course, and I definitely wanna to do that by the end of the year 🙂 The peer-review aspect in particular appeals to me.

        Out of curiosity, is there a lot of awareness of the benefits of the BBST course in New Zealand? Say, someone was to put it in their CV – would someone in HR recognise it?

        Looking back on ISTQB, I think it’s a starting point – but I’m under the impression that testing is more of a journey as opposed to something you can ‘tick off’ once you have done a certification.
        Which raises the question? Are there people out there who think that getting a qualification is all you need to become a good tester?

  2. Fantastic, Aaron – thanks very much for posting. Just wanted to clarify your take on my ER. When you say “myth” I’m really saying belief, because it is something we hold to be true about ourselves in a subconscious way – we are not aware of it. So, I say, bring your beliefs to the surface, interrogate them and then, if they serve you, harness the beliefs, if not, dispel them as myths. Certainly not a catchy sound bite when said this way, but an important distinction IMHO.

    • Yeah, saw that too. I thought it was a great talk on the beliefs we hold and how they actually control us more than we actually would like them too.

  3. Pingback: The KWST (quest) for learning | Brian Osman

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