Category Archives: Juggling

Safety first – The Way To Runö part 3

When I started juggling, I juggled above my bed. This had some advantages: my juggling props did not break fast and my neighbours downstairs did not complain about the drops. Unconsciously I created a safe environment. An environment, where no one laughed, when I dropped a ball. An environment, where no one ridiculed me, when I let my juggling balls collide against each other .

Open session
One of the finest tools for review is Skype. For my repetitions of my presentation it was great. I could show my PowerPoint to my reviewer. At the same time I could see the reactions on the face. The tool enabled me to observe the reviewer struggling with a small exercise program, which I especially wrote for my workshop.

The first session was horrible. In the second half I had to force myself to finish the story. There were too many slides. It hurt me, that I had to cut them out of presentation. One exercise was so big, that it would cost me at least a half hour to execute it properly. Too big to be included.

Nevertheless I got the compliment, that it was a personal story. Particulary the part about the safe environment was good:

What do you think, what safe environment looks like? What are the characteristics of a safe environment? (Silence of 2 seconds) For me it is an environment, where I can make errors.

The second session went more smoothly than the first one. I had been able to reduce the number of  sheets. The feedback was: “This is you”.

Once I talked with a delegate about the experiences of events of TestNet, the Dutch Special Interest Group in Software Testing.  The answer was, that the test knowledge was not that important. I was surprised: there was so much knowledge and experience in the Congress Centre, The delegate must have noticed my astonishment and explained to me, that it was a big comfort, that other testers were having the same problems. Somehow this peer conference provided a safe environment to exchange experiences.

Time 2 Juggle

In my abstract I stated, that live juggling will be included in my workshop. But for me it had been a while ago, that I performed for an audience. So it was time to practice the juggling tricks. You might wonder where. Above the bed in my bedroom :)

The next step was to juggle, where people would notice me juggling. Preferably a group people with a technical background. So I chose my colleagues, who were having lunch on a bench in the sun. And eager testers at Tasting Let’s Test in Breda.

In 2008 my family went to the European Juggling Convention in Karlsruhe. More than two thousand people gathered in this place to share the joy of juggling. It was the first time, that my wife went to an European Juggling Convention. She was familiar with the Dutch Juggling Convention, so she considered the European one a safe place. Families with little children were camping on the convention site. There was a relaxed atmosphere.

Exercising the exercises

I love to play games. Therefore I consider exercises as small games. There is a set rules and the players have to figure out a way to win it. So I talked about the exercises with a family member, who is a teacher. I let a colleague wrestle with a program. For good measures I let my small Dutch kids explore an English program and they loved it.

So

I increased my zone of comfort in the last months. By talking, by playing, and by being in a safe environment.

BTW if you are interested to attend my workshop What I learned from juggling as a tester? at Let’s Test 2015, it would be great, when you bring juggling balls, clubs, and other interesting juggling props with you. Maybe you know a friend or colleague, who juggles or juggled. You might lend some juggling gadgets for the duration of the conference.

From Mindmaps To Powerpoints – The Way To Runo part 2

For a company training, which I followed, the trainer used a flip over, a whiteboard with markers, and a set of binders with hand outs. No PowerPoint, so no time was spent on editing and reediting the presentation. It looked lean to me.

Your proposal rocks

Last November I was regularly looking in my mail box. There was a small chance, that I would be invited to speak at the Let’s Test conference 2015. But nevertheless it was worth the try. According to the tweets of the conference the speakers would be invited soon. And then …. I got the invitation. I did not shout as I had planned. But I was ecstatic.

In 2014 there was Tasting Let’s Test in Utrecht. I noticed, that Huib gave the same presentation of Let’s Test 2014. So I prepared my wife, that there was a small chance, that I would give my presentation at Tasting Let’s Test Benelux in March and May. Instead other speakers were invited, which gave me more room to prepare my workshop.

Get. Set. Mind map.

After this surprising news I was busy notifying people. Then I realized, that my proposal was written from the jugglers’ point of view. The name of my 2 hour workshop is What I learned from juggling as a tester? So what’s in it for the testers, who would attend? That gave me a brief moment of panic. Luckily I had my mind map for the proposal. This became my starting point for my workshop.

The first mind map contained the five branches with takeaways:

  • Small tricks lead to nice combinations
  • Create a flow
  • Learning by teaching
  • €Find your own style
  • €Have an open mind

In the takeaway mind map I made sub branches Juggle and Test under the 5 branches. Under these branches I brainstormed.

The second one was my outline mind map for the presentation. It described, when which takeaway would be presented .

One evening my wife asked me, whether I was preparing my workshop. I confirmed that. I mind mapped on my smartphone.

Episode Mind Maps

Looking to my outline mind map I split my presentation in episode mind maps. The first episode mind map I called first year. This was my abbreviation for the first year I was juggling. For each slide I created a branch. I added branches for the content of the slide, things I would tell and sometimes a title of the slide. This all lead to a Slides mind map, which contained the title and the text of all the slides in the right order.

Test Slide Story
In the movie industry first the scenario is written, then the story board. This board contains images of the movie, so all involved film crew members have a better idea, how the scenes will look. I used this idea to create my slide board, a serie of rough sketches of the slides. Every slide was created using the slide board, my pictures mind map, and my titles mind map.

I used a pen and lined paper for the first version. Then came the fun part: I used a coloured fine pointed marker to make changes. I noticed, that I still missed some titles and pictures. This process I repeated another time. Images were popping up in my head. So I had to take action to make pictures for the presentation.

One of the challenges I faced was to get nice pictures. For my presentation at TestNet Voorjaarsevenement 2014 I used my own pictures instead of stock photos. There were 2 pictures of some else I really loved to use. So I formally asked for permission and I got it in both cases.

From Mind Maps To PowerPoints

The making of the PowerPoint was uneventful: just copy and paste. Even after all the editing steps pieces were missing. I added mind maps like additions, research, and demo. On one point I did not like the order. So I made Order Mind Map, which I reedited several times. When I was happy with the order, I changed the slides in the Powerpoint.

A few weeks before Tasting Let’s Test Benelux I played with the idea: what would I do, if I got a request to speak? I focused on the big errors in my presentation.

 A few days before Tasting Let’s Test I realised, that I had to make differences in the presentation. If the presentation would be the same like the one in the conference, then people might be disappointed. So I modified a few slides and also decided to change some juggling props. One slide had only title. It was good enough.

The day before Tasting Let’s Test I loaded the latest version of my presentation on my laptop. I had my MVP, Minimal Viable Presentation.

PS

The story continues here.

Do you want to talk about it?

Sometimes I need to talk, sometimes I need to write.

A few good speakers?

There are test conferences, which are always looking for new bright speakers. One way to find them is the Call For Proposals or CFP. In the past I had serious doubts, whether my proposal would be accepted. Today I pose my self two simple questions:

  • Was this subject presented on this test conference?
  • If this is the case, can I present it in another way?

Sometimes I have to repeat these questions several times to pinpoint my subject.

A few years ago TestNet, The Dutch SIGIST (Special Interest Group in Software Testing), asked for subjects for their peer meetings. I suggested mind mapping. A few months later I noticed, that the subject was put on the calendar, so I volunteered to speak about it. The reply was, that TestNet needed proposals. I made two: one about the basics of mind mapping and another one about the use of mind mapping during testing. The latter was accepted.

A word of comfort for starters

I once read an article about the 100 Man Kumite. One man had to fight 100 man in an extreme short time. One Dutchman wrote, that he feared two types of fighters: the beginners and the experts. The beginners did unexpected things.

During one of her theater workshops Franki Anderson asked:
“Is every voice heard?”

Give me 5 minutes more

There might be a misconception, that an idea must be presented in 5 minutes. In the office 5 minutes of full attention of your manager, team lead or product owner can be a known restriction. You either learn or learned, how to squeeze your message or request to the bare minimum.

If I talk to my peer testers on a conference, I have enough room to sketch the situation. I have enough time to tell them about the problems I had to tackle. This can take about 20 minutes. Then I switch to the actions I took, taking 10 minutes. I end with 5 minutes looking at the results and lessons learned. In the Netherlands STAR is used: Situation Tasks Actions Results.

So, what would really trigger the organisers to accept your proposal and invite you as speaker to their test conferences? Exercises. Delegates or visitors of the conference go back home (to the office) with new ideas and real hands on experience. If you have any doubts about it, just look at TestLab. This popular activity is scheduled on different test conferences for years.

Let’s go back to my suggestion for mind mapping for the TestNet peer meeting. If I just talk about mind mapping, I can fill one hour. Participants get the idea, tell about it and forget it eventually. Exercises spice up the whole participant experience. I used to give 3 hour workshops about mind mapping for colleagues, who work in the IT. They made two mind maps during the workshop. The only thing I had to do, was to narrow the workshop down to testers. Instead of an one hour talk I now had an highly interactive workshop of 3 hours.

If you might have noticed: test conference organisers are looking for special sessions. I would suggest the following format for the workshop:

  • Describe the Situation and Tasks.
  • Let the participants perform the Actions.
  • Discuss the Actions and Results.
  • And repeat the STAR.
  • At the end share your own Actions and Results.

Getting to Stockholm

On my quest for knowledge I stumbled upon Peers with Beers on Friday October 24th 2014. Some participants are well known in the international testing community. For a ridiculous low price I could spend all office hours with them. I also joined the dinner, so I extended the time with another 5 hours.

During this peer meeting the participants were expected to present their ideas about testing in the future. The presentations were chosen based on the title. My presentation was not chosen. I realized, that I had a bad title. Too generic. Joris agreed with me:
“A good title is important.”

After each presentation the contents was discussed using K cards. I primarily observed the other peers: the way they discussed and the jokes they made. It was difficult for me to get in the right gear to exchange ideas. Huib remarked, that I was a bit silent.

During the dinner that evening the call for proposals of Let’s Test 2015 was discussed. Two days later was the deadline. Derk-Jan told a story about a rented car.  “We should make proposal for it.” We had a lot of fun about it. In the call for proposals there were no restrictions for the sessions. So this was totally acceptable. At the end of the evening Joep gave me a final advice:
“‘Do not forget the takeaways. ”

Weeks earlier I noticed on one of the pictures of Let’s Test 2014, that people were juggling with balls. I thought:
“I can teach them this easily”.
I gave many juggling workshops.

On the day of the deadline for Let’s Test 2015 I went to my PC and opened my mind map with the attached notes: What I learned from juggling as a tester?. I think, that creativity is necessary to become a good tester. As a juggler I have to amaze my public with my creativity. In my proposal I added a remark, that I would be able to extend the lecture with an one hour juggling workshop.

On November 6th I got the exhilarating news, that my proposal for a 2 hour workshop about juggling and testing was accepted. A total of seven proposals from Peers with Beers were accepted for Let’s Test 2015. So apparently, I was in good company.

[Updated:  Ard had a special Crime Investigation Game. This was held secret until the first day of the conference. So I increased the number of accepted proposals.]