Thank you for your attention

“I think I found something.”
All developers were looking straight to their screens. So I waited for a reaction.
“You can talk.” the Scrum Master said. “We are listening.”
I started to tell about my observation. One dev stood up and looked on one of my screens. He went back to his workplace. After a couple seconds I heard:
“I know where the problem is.”

We are both looking

A few years ago this actually happened to me.

The recruiter stood up and made a gesture to the desktop at the other side of the room. “Now you can show your presentation.”
I liked the comfortable sofa, where I was seated on.
“I can show it here.” I pulled my smartphone out of my pocket.
The recruiter seated himself next to me.

“This is the presentation I will give. It still is a draft version.” After flipping the first slides I started a casual talk about a performance test in the past. “On this slide […]” I described the situation.
“I am familiar with performance tests.” the recruiter remarked. I just filed his words somewhere in my memory. Hey, I can still remember them.

“If you look at the graph, […]” I zoomed in on the graph and talked about the lines: what did they tell me?
Slowly the storyteller came up in me. My tone of voice changed. I started to talk in an animated way. The story started to grip me.

I had something to tell.

Excuse me for the interruptions
Last week I started a delayed Skype session with my friend. After some small talk it was time to look at my workshop for Testbash Netherlands.
“Okay. I gonna share my screen with you.” He saw nothing. This was similar to a broken beamer. There was no reason to panic yet.

I switched to Plan B. “I will send you the presentation.” I picked a PDF loaded with Fieldstones.
“Did you receive the presentation?” I kindly informed after a minute. I got no for an answer.

A few moments I heard that my mail was in his spam box.
He put me on the Whitelist.
You’ve got a friend in me.

After he had opened the file, I did a walk through in my native language Dutch. “On this slide I will say […]”
“On slide 4 [….]”

Later in the session I explained an exercise to him and off we went. “What would you do with the sticky note?” I got a reassuring answer. Now I came to the difficult part. He had to connect the imaginary stickies.

I could not give him visual clues. Therefore I focused on his voice. It sounded lower than usual. He was hesitating: there were too many options. So I added a constraint to the exercise. The tone of his voice became higher: that was positive.

Beginning this year I had visualised the solution within seconds. Now I had to breakdown the solution in small pieces for him. I took a metaphor to explain the first step. Confusion was on his mind.

Now I had to be patient.
I repeated the solution several times. Nope. I used other words. I did not hear anything. Then I revealed the solution a little bit and got a good response. Phew.
So I will have to simplify this. As simple as that.

Another exercise followed. The slides were not ready, but I had enough information for him. It took him some time to read it. That was something I could not influence as a workshop leader.

Then I told him his assignment. He told me in a steady flow, what he had found. He picked up the right information. Then he was sidetracked.
“O no”, I thought and kept my mouth shut. I really had to listen. He kept talking. By using logic he figured out the right solution. This went quite smoothly after all.

This exercise was too easy for the middle part of my workshop. I looked for it in the mind map for the second hour, but it was in the First Hour Mind Map. That was just fine with me.

I got valuable feedback by carefully listening and questioning.

A few weeks earlier I showed some slides to my wife. She was more than happy to recognise some pictures. But one slide was really bad and she had good arguments. Right. Make that wrong: I still need to tweak that slide. And yes, my wife is right.

I thank you for reading and the reminder to improve that slide. And uuuuh …. something else, which drew my Attention.


Just give me a couple of blog posts. It will spring in my mind again. Cheers.

Zoom out. Zoom in.

On the Kanban board was a sticky showing me what to test.

Zoom out. Zoom in.
The test plan had acceptance criteria for this functionality. I picked the first criterion.

Zoom out. Zoom in.
In the knowledge management system I went to the test department and clicked to the application section. Then I looked for the test case.
Yes, I like to modify my input on the fly. In this case a data file would save me hours of testing.
I could not locate the file.

Zoom out. Zoom in.
I went to the PO or Product Owner. He also started looking:
“Maybe I sent you the file.”

Zoom out. Zoom in.
I went back to my desk. In the mail program I could not find the right file. Then I remembered that this functionality had been covered in one ticket. I found a zip file. This contained other zip files.

Another zoom in. I unpacked a zip file. And repeated this for another contained zip file. I found the data file and expected results.

Zoom out. Zoom in.
I went to the PO to tell him the good news.

Before I went home, I zoomed in in the knowledge management system. I uploaded the found files. The names explained the contents of the files. The next day I would take time to tidy things up.

Zoom out: out of office.

Rat’s Head, Ox’s Neck

I grabbed my notebook with the sketchnotes for my workshop at TestBash Netherlands. In my head I went through all possible visual solutions for a test exercise. I drew the most simple one. At that moment I had no more details to fill in. I almost came to a stop. A workshop in distress?

Centuries ago Musashi Miyamoto had an advice for warriors:
Rat’s Head, Ox’s Neck.
If you are too preoccupied with details, then work on the big picture. If you are too preoccupied with the big picture, then work on the details.

So I switched to my mind maps with the global structure for each hour of the workshop. I moved branches around and clarified thoughts for myself. Another brake was about to stop my flow of thoughts. I could lose valuable information, if I deleted too many branches.

Digital mind maps are easy to save. So I copied the mind maps on my smartphone and set the previous versions on a safe place. What had been bugging my mind? Time to delete some stuff.

One exercise felt out of place in the Second Hour Mind Map. I moved the whole branch to the mind map of the first hour. The number of exercises per hour was almost equal. I love balance.

Then I noticed the theme of the first hour: time out. Wait a minute. That was not a time out exercise. I visualised the exercise: this was about states. I moved the whole branch back. I prefer theme over balance.

The fun with markers is that I can number the branches. So I changed their order a few times. In the meantime no slides were adjusted or removed. I was editing my workshop on a high level at high speed. Look mum. Without presentation program.

In between I switched to the mind map Extra stuff. After opening I hoped to find some Fieldstones I could use in my workshop. But I was disappointed: it was a list of workshop materials I had to take with me.

That was not in the name, so the file was renamed by me. This was an advice from a Cleancode session at my office. And I could add extra stuff like a whiteboard. Sorry, I mean equipment.

Apologies now. I love the smell of smiles in the morning.

Time to switch between the Hour Mind Maps. I did some dry runs in my head. Then I was not ready, because in another mind map I had still some funny pictures to include in the slides.

Luckily I had grouped them around a subtheme. Some pictures I really wanted to use. I reopened the Hour Mind Maps and added branches with funny pictures. There were stories or Fieldstones attached to them.

Another dance of branches in the Hour Mind Maps started. This was creativity at work. Feel the Flow Luke.

I also found my Story Fieldstones Mind Map at last. Some I placed in the Hour Mind Maps. Others went to my sideboard. I also had some floating Fieldstones which I could use at any moment in my workshop.

I heard my name mentioned in the hallway. My wait was over. Within 1 hour I had reshaped my workshop. The next time I could work on my slides again.

I had seriously enjoyed myself. 🙂


Thanks for reading.
Yours Mindfully.

Can you picture that?

Recurring situation in my family.
“Where is dad?”
“He is taking a picture.”
Moments later:
“What did you see?”
“I saw something funny.”

In my previous blog post I wrote about Fieldstones. Jerry Weinberg used the metaphor of building a wall using Fieldstones to describe the writing of a story. I have to be mindful about my environment and then … I notice something. That can be told as a single story or part of a story. I just wonder and make a note.

At the moment I am trying to find the right pictures for my workshop at TestBash Netherlands. My basic idea was to use sketchnotes as Fieldstones. But the pictures in my notes had to be visualised.
O yeah, I’ve got a camera in my smartphone.

I thought about a Dutch windmill, so I had to cycle through the polder to make a nice picture. It required some timing from my side: with a full workweek and less sun every day I had to do it in the weekend.

All the elements of a typical Dutch landscape were present:
a windmill, a polder, and a nice greeny dike
photographed by a Chinese on a bike.

What makes a good conversation starter? In my case it is a good story about visuals. It can be the awkward use of words. I can tell for minutes, but making a picture stops or slows down my flow. It gives my listener a moment of rest to reflect on my message.

A picture can also give another view on a situation. As a tester I make models of programs, so I can perform better tests. There are words to describe them: test techniques and heuristics.

Which ones do I use? Most of the time it boils down to a small set. Once in a while the same tools are used too often. A simple statement of the end user can make me aware of what I am missing. Then I have to adopt: choose another way of testing or extend my test technique or heuristic. That is the most important part of my workshop.

Is there a way to determine, whether I use the right way of modelling? Maybe if I find bugs. Or when a content customer calls.

Until I will stop with testing, I have to observe and ponder upon my way of testing. This requires Continuous thinking about what can be improved in this context.


I think: “I just wrote another Fieldstone.”

Blimey, I intended to write about using funny pictures in my slides, but this Fieldstone was shaped in another way.

Can you picture that?