Category Archives: Communication

Does it fit?

Fancy restaurants have little delicious dishes and standard spoons, which might not fit.

Take that

“We cannot combine the automated test and the performance test.”, Scott stated. “They don’t fit. It’s a waste of time.”
Alice looked hopeful.
George brushed it away:
“Instead of testing you are talking. You’re the one, who wastes time.”
Scott was a man, who did not mind a good discussion:
“We’ll lose a lot of time, if we do not split the tests. ”
“My decision is definite.” George answered.
“Don’t you understand?” Scott shouted.
Alice started to look white.

“You can leave the room NOW.”
“You cannot run away from decisions.”
George stood up:
“You bet. I will have a little talk with HR right now.”
He went out the room and slammed the door.
Alice looked miserable.

The door opened slowly. George looked inside and said:
“That did not go quite right.”

Take Me To St Louis

“Scott, do you know a person you never shout at and who knows as much about automated tests and performance tests as your manager?” George asked.
Scott was silent for a few moments.
“My mother. ….!? Wait a sec. You are not involving my mom in this discussion!”

“Hi mom”, Scott began.
“What is the matter, son?”, George answered.
“I want to thank for the apple pie you made for me.”
George raised an eye brow, Alice smiled.
“Did you come to talk only about the apple pie? ”
“No, for my work I have to combine automated tests and performance test.”
“I am sorry, son, but I cannot help you with this. Just do, what they told you.”

Scott was shifting gears in his head.
“A performance test for a car is to look, whether it can handle the load.”
Alice put a thumb up.
“I understand: if I can put all ingredients for an apple pie in the car, then it can handle the load.”
“No mom, that is the purpose of an automated test. That one is focused on the functionality of the car: can I open the door, put the ingredients in the car, close the door, and drive away?”
George looked puzzled:
“What kind of load do you mean?”

George nodded.
Scott made another attempt:
“A load for car software are heavy conditions. Does the car ride well with four adults, luggage for long holiday on slippery roads in a dark rainy night?”
“I only fetch my apple pie ingredients in my car during daylight, when the weather is good. ” George explained.
Scott threw his arms up in the air.
A frown appeared on Alice’s forehead.

Take 5

“You are close.”, George assured Scott.

“You know, mom, that a car has a lot of software.”, Scott stated.
“You say so, son.”, George answered. Scott continued with:
“The dashboard must show the right information at the right moment, if I am speeding on the highway. In this case the computers in the car must work very hard. That is the purpose of the performance test.

An automated test can be used to check, whether all buttons and displays of the dashboard work properly. If I drive fast, I am not using every button on the dashboard. So the automated test and performance test cannot be combined. It does not fit.”
Alice put her right hand on her chin.

“Thank you for the explanation, son. You definitely earned an apple pie.”
Alice started laughing merrily. Scott joined in.

After Alice had stopped with laughing, Scott looked at Alice:
“Do you need more arguments, Boss?”

Alice sobered up. She got a focused look:
“You know, that there is a lot of pressure. So I tried to take a shortcut. I notice, that you have a lot of anger. I assume, that you have a need to be understood. Am I right?”
Scott just nodded.
“This basically means, that a choice must be made between quality and functionality. “, Alice continued.
“At the moment Quality has the best chances.”

Alice turned away from Scott.
“George, I really want to thank you for ..”
George’s chair was empty. He had left the room.

FAQ for Tester Recruiters

An imaginary situation decades ago.
[Phone rings. I pick it up. Interested, who is calling]
I: “Hi”
Caller: “Hi. Joe mentioned you were interested in a blind date.”
I [Pleased to be called]: “Sure.”
Caller: “Are you intelligent?”
I [Ignoring the undertone]: “I am studying at the university.”
Caller: “That’ s great. Can you talk about computers?”
I [Internal sigh]: “I am studying computer science.”
Caller: “Are you attractive?”
I: “Just pretty.”
Caller: “Hum”
I [Annoyed]:”Why can pretty people have no blind dates?”
Caller: “Do you look good in a bikini?”
I [Upset]: “Excuse me. I am a man!”
Caller: “I just thought you had a low voice. Sorry for wasting your time.”
I [Angry]:”What the …”
[Caller ends conversation.]

Standard questions from tester recruiters, which are usually asked at speed date speed

Are you interested in a job?
Yes. I don’t have a job.

[LinkedIn] Can we connect?
If I do not know you, then I will not connect with you. I connect with you, if I trust you.

Would you please call me?
If you provide enough information about your company or customer, I might be willing to call you. It is also handy to provide a phone number.

Would you like to send me your CV?
All relevant information is on LinkedIn. I will send you my CV, if I am interested in the job.

Where do you like to work?
In the Randstad and the area southward to and including Breda.

Do you work and think on an academic level?
Yes. I am an engineer graduated at Eindhoven University of Technology.

How long have you tested?
In 1996 I started with my career as a professional tester. The information can be retrieved from LinkedIn.

Do you have relevant test certificates?
Yes, look at my LinkedIn profile.

Do you know the following test automation tools [tools names]?
I have no experience with test automation, but I have theoretical knowledge. At the moment I am experimenting with Selenium, Eclipse, and Java. I have more than 5 year experience with programming in C and C++.

Do you have experience with scrum?
Yes, one year.

Do you know Cucumber?
No. But I can pick it up.

Do you want to freelance?
No.

I’ve got a job for a test coordinator. Is this interesting?
It depends. I can make test plans and test reports, if necessary. But I prefer to test hands on most of the time.
Do you want to be a senior tester?
Yes. Please.

Do you know other testers, who might be interested in this job?
Yes, I know a lot of good testers. Even excellent ones. In the past I suggested some names. I did not get proper feedback, so I decided to stop mentioning names.

More preferable questions for me from tester recruiters

How can I contact you?
Just send a personalised e-mail.
What is “personalised” according to you?
If I replace my name by the name of a random fellow tester and the mail is still applicable, then it is not personalised.

Do you want to know more about my company or client?
Yes, of course. I am really interested in the way they work, the company culture, and the products / services. I am all ears.

What kind of company are you looking for?
A company, which has agile projects in house.

What is important for you?
I like a company, which is committed to go to the next test level and where I still can develop myself.

How do we stay in touch?
I prefer one contact person.

How often can I ask you something?
If there is an interesting job, you can ask any questions. Please don’t ask the same questions twice. It’s extremely annoying for me, especially if you have my recent CV.

When should I thank you?

  • After I sent you an e-mail.
  • For this blog post.

Disclaimer

I wrote this blog post on 8 December 2015. Things might have changed in the meantime.

Fetching, fast and slow

Let’s start with a simple observation of the following sentence:

Do I communicate (without a mouse)?

If you were fast, then there is a high probability you were thinking: “The word mouse is used by the author instead of the word mouth. So the spelling is wrong.”

If you thought hard, then there is a high probability you were thinking: “The mouse is probably a computer accessory. So the question could be rephrased as follows: do I communicate (without a computer)?”

I once heard a great story from an experienced test manager René. He told me, that his project members were communicating with emails. It did not even change, when they sat in the same room. He just set a daily limit of 3 emails, which they could send. This lead to more face to face communication, which improved the project spirit and group cohesion significantly.

Breakdown

In the introduction I used a mind trick on you. This is a trick, which can be used to confuse people.  For the fast observations System 1 is used in most cases. This way of thinking provides fast, almost effortless way to digest information. Like walking to the office.

For the thoughtful observations System 2 is used. Doing complex operations like testing in the office. Both systems have been discussed in depth by Daniel Kahneman in the book Thinking, fast and slow. The title of this blog is based on the title of this book. And fetching is short for fetching coffee.

In March 2015 James Bach introduced the term testopsy. He analysed, what the tester did during a test. I thought about a post autopsy or blog post autopsy.  It is tempting to concatenate the strings post and opsy. But as a Dutch native speaker I do not take any chances. 

Just let me perform an autopsy for a blog post: how did I construct the blog post Do I communicate (without a mouse )?

Because I wrote the blog post, I have the original mind map, which was used as a basis. In the following picture I highlight, which System is used and the corresponding trends. System 2 is used in certain parts of the blog post and System 1 in other parts.

mindful-tester-mindmap-System1-Sytem2

A manager would say:
“This is nice. And that’s all. The relationship between the parts of the blog post and Systems is meager at most. ”

Time for a graph make over.

Graph SOS
There is a British car program, in which they deconstruct and construct a beloved car wreck. For people, who earn it.  And as a reader you definitely earn a better graph.

In case you did not read this blog post Do I communicate (without a mouse)?, please do. It makes the following graph understandable.

mindful-tester-timeline-system1-system2

In the graph above I show my usage of Systems 1 and 2 on the vertical axis. The horizontal axis shows the different parts of the post in reading order. So it is possible to observe, that System 2 is used less and less until the end of story.

A manager might be more interested in this graph than the previous one:
“So what you are basically stating, is, that people use System 2 for learning. And participating.”
Or even better:
“I wonder, whether System 1 is used during the meetings in my company .”

Breakdown 2

Over the years I saw a recurring pattern. Every time I boarded a project or got a new room, I had to change my coffee fetching list. And somehow I reduced the spent time. I eliminated waste: it looked to me, that I was lean. This story I carried with me for more than a year. Telling and retelling it to myself over and over again.

Then it was time to put it in a blog post. I started with the mind map with the condensed and descriptive title Coffee. The first branch contained the story. Then I added two funny anecdotes to add some flavour to the blog post.

In the meantime I had lost my favourite mug out of view: a bear, who juggles, while praising the owner of the mug. (That’s me.) After I had found the mug, I made a photo with my smartphone. The mug was on the foreground and my markers right behind them. Then I noticed my mouse: it was behind the markers and not on the photo. So I changed the view for the next picture: the mouse is on the background. Unreachable for normal use.

A few days later I noticed, that I was missing a photo with a funny text for the blog post. I needed something, that could be connected with coffee or tea. Then I remembered the picture of my mug, which was a major obstruction for using my mouse. A thought about communication entered my mind: Do I always need a mouse for communication? It was relatively simple to write an introduction from this point.

Most stories have a lesson at the end. I think, that it is highly predictable (and a bit boring). I wanted to give the reader a choice out of 3 lessons. But that was not entertaining enough. So I placed myself in the spotlights (again). If I could let my voices speak, then I would have a more recognisable situations instead of some abstract and concise questions without any explanation. I took the following voices:

  • The lean machine in me, cutting wastes on his way to the future
  • A woman constantly looking for her needs, while brainstorming and chatting
  • A service desk agent concerned about an implementation of a new functionality
  • A curious software tester looking for clues.

I somehow used a Dutch style form: the circle is round. I started with the title Do I communicate (without a mouse)? And ended with the same question.

Do I communicate (without a mouse)?

Just a bunch of thoughts popping up in my head, while looking at the picture:

  • Yes, I need some tea.
  • Yes, I need to make a note.
  • Yes, I need a mouse to communicate.

A Note As A Service

In the Netherlands people tend to be too busy to go to the coffee corner in the office. In some companies there is an unwritten rule, that you get coffee, tea, or water for your colleagues once every 4 hour.

The first times are hard. What is your name? What would you like to drink? How do you prefer to drink your coffee? Coffee is a difficult one. How strong, how much milk, what kind of coffee ? If you have 10 waiting colleagues, then you need some time to note their requests.

Because I am Chinese, I can make the following joke to make people relax. “So you take numbers 7, 14, and 22.”
Then  I get surprised looks.
Probably thinking: “Our coffee machine has no number 7.”
Then I continue with a heavy Chinese accent:
“One Babi Pangang, one Fu Yong Hai and …”
Then often a smile appears.

Accelerated note taking
Of course this process can become faster than I described. The names of the persons were abbreviated by me. I used codes for the beverages like C strong for a strong black coffee.  The waiting time during a phone call could be reduced to seconds by asking his or her colleagues: “What does he / she prefer to drink?”

I once noticed a serving tray. The type, which is used in the canteen. There were more than 20 circles on it. Every circle contained the name of a person, preferred beverage in the morning, and preferred beverage in the afternoon. When I called an end user with question about domain knowledge, I got the reply, that she was fetching coffee for her colleagues. So I told, that I would call back after a half hour.

Association and reduction

The next trick was to discover patterns: he always drinks black coffee in the morning. Or she prefers hot water for her tea.

Visualisation is also great: imagine the face of someone you fetched coffee for: cappuccino. Or look at the desks and the corresponding beverages: this is the tea corner.

My question became: “Would you like to have a black coffee?”
A few weeks later: “Black coffee?”
A few weeks later drinking an imaginary cup of coffee and waiting for a nod.
A few weeks holding an imaginary cup of coffee and waiting for a nod.
A few weeks a slight raise of the chin and waiting for a nod.

Questions I ponder upon
(
To spice things up I added some fictional thoughts and talks. )

  • Am I lean?
    I fetched coffee and tea for 8 persons within 8 minutes.
    Not bad!
  • Can I handle changes?
    “For a change I would like to have real hot water from a water cooker. Earl grey, sugar, and a real tea spoon. I hate those flimsy plastic reeds. Can you still remember it? The next time I’ll fetch you some tea. Or maybe I should take green tea. My neighbour really loves it. Nah, I just stick to the dark tea. Anyways….”
  • Do I communicate (without a mouse)?
    “Yes, Earl Grey. By the way I noticed, that you are testing the upload function. There are customers begging for it. Did you know that?”
    “Really?”
    “I was wondering, whether the following item is mentioned in the user story!?”