Management by mind mapping

A mind trick is a trick, which can be used to confuse people. The following mind trick I used, happened in the real world. I changed the names of the people on purpose.

The count mind trick
During one of my mind map workshops I asked the participants:
“At the count of three you mention the name of your team lead.
One two three.”
A lot of names were mentioned. It was hard to hear one clearly.

“At the count of three you mention the name of the boss of your team lead.
One two three.”
Fewer names were mentioned. Some names could be distinguished.

“At the count of three you mention the name of the your business unit manager.
One two three.”
Almost every name could be distinguished.

“At the count of three you mention the name of the your division manager.
One two three”
Only three name were mentioned: Peter Red, Tony Purple, and Helen Yellow. “

At the count of three you mention the name of the your CEO.
One two three”
“Jack Orange.”
People were a bit surprised, that the same name was mentioned.

I continued with:
“Last evening there was a meeting in the canteen with Jack Orange, Peter Red, Tony Purple, and Helen Yellow. Jack Orange used a mind map to explain his view on the future of our company. If you go to the canteen, you can still see the mind map.”

Breakdown
On the morning of the workshop I met participant of previous workshop Introduction mind mapping.
“Hi Han Toan, will you give a mind map workshop this morning?”
“Yes, this morning.”
“Derek of facility management told me, that there is a mind map in the canteen. Jack Orange, Peter Red, Tony Purple, and Helen Yellow and other hot shots were making a mind map in the canteen last evening.”
“What? Can I see it?”
“Why not?”

Tips

  • become known as the expert on a subject like mister mind map within and outside the company.
  • stimulate sharing of information about your subject.
  • know the hierarchy of the company.

 

 

 

Can we scale down the tests? Part 2

Sometimes you have a harmonica with the wrong scale. It is hard to scale it down.  A simple solution is to buy harmonicas in all scales. It will cost time and money, but it might save the day.

If a manager walks into your cubicle with a suggestion to scale down tests, then it is time to get the big picture before the decision to skip tests. Let’s go back to George.

Quality is an option
At eleven o’ clock in the morning George joined the meeting of the software testers. Cynthia was not looking very happy.
“What’s wrong with you, Cynthia?”, George asked.
“Management decided to skip the user acceptance test for the navigation system to save time.”, Cynthia answered.
“Did you point out the consequences?”
“Of course the interface can really be improved.”
“Can you prove it?”
“Sure.”
“OK, let’s call the PO for his opinion.”

John joined the meeting of the software testers.
“Hi Cynthia, this is supposed to be a tester only meeting.”
“You are welcome.” Cynthia reassured him. “We won’t bite you.”
“Would you give me a permission to let the other testers have a look to the navigation system?”
“No problem.”

George was studying his laptop.
“According to the user story it is possible to enter the right destination using voice commands within 10 seconds.
Your aunt asked you to come to Paris, which is in the neighborhood of Tupelo.”

First test:
“The destination is Paris.”, Pete said.
“What is destination?” was the answer of the navigation system.
“I want to go to Paris.”
“What means “I want to”?”
“Go to Paris.”
“Go to Paris go to Paris is an invalid voice command.”

Second test:
“Go to Paris.”
“Do you want to go to Paris in Arkansas, Paris in California, Paris in Idaho, Paris in Illinois, Paris in Kentucky, Paris in Maine, Paris in Michigan, Paris in Mississippi, Paris in Missouri, Paris in New York, Paris in Ohio, Paris in Pennsylvania, Paris in Tennessee, Paris in Texas, Paris in Virginia, Paris in Grant County in Wisconsin or Paris in Kenosha County in Wisconsin?”

Third test:
“Go to Paris in the neighborhood of Tupelo.”
“What is neighborhood?”
“Begin again.”
“Go to Paris, which is near Tupelo.”
“How far is near?”
“I don’t know.”
“Give an estimation.”
“I don’t know.”

Fourth test:
“Go to Paris via Tupelo.”
“Do you want to go to Paris in Arkansas, Paris in California, Paris in Idaho, Paris in Illinois, Paris in Kentucky, Paris in Maine, Paris in Michigan, Paris in Mississippi, Paris in Missouri, Paris in New York, Paris in Ohio, Paris in Pennsylvania, Paris in Tennessee, Paris in Texas, Paris in Virginia, Paris in Grant County in Wisconsin or Paris in Kenosha County in Wisconsin?”

Fifth test:
“Go to Tupelo.”
“The destination is Tupelo.”
“Go to Paris, which is closest to Tupelo.”
“Give an estimation.”
“Uuuuuh.”
”What is Uuuuuh?”

George looked at the PO:
“Do you think, that a user acceptance test is a considerable option?”

Are you appreciated as a tester?

Some people might wonder at the size of the cup. My answer is, that I got it from a famous tester. Then the following list of action points is likely to be proposed:

  • Sell it on eBay.
  • Gather proof i.e. pictures.
  • Request Huib Schoots to sign a certificate of authenticity, that he gave this cup to Han Toan Lim for the most intensive and concentrated test session at ..

At that  moment I would interrupt with:
“Time Out dude. You cannot buy appreciation; you have to earn it.”

Test right there
The consultant with a strong HR background in IT looked at me.
“I see those small wheels spinning in your head. If you can read a design document, you can probably write one.”
“I already did.”, I admitted.
He continued: “Then you can describe the flow. If you can describe the flow, then you can program.”
He looked to me with the silent question:
“Why do you not move up the ladder?”

At that moment the time slowed down to a stop. Internally I sighed for 3 seconds. Then time accelerated to the normal speed. Reality snapped back and I was confused. Only a tenth of a second had passed in reality. I saw a man looking at me and waiting for an answer. Like a stubborn school boy I stated: “I just want to test.”

Talking about talking kids
During the holiday my wife talked about the show for children: “The theme is job. So a member of the animation team asked the kids about the job of their father.” I heard, that one of my kids answered with “Not a real job.”. I groaned. Another one said: “Software tester.” My wife imitated the small, hesitant voice of animator: “A software tester?!”

Then she prepared me, that something worse would come. I steeled myself. The next kid said: “Police agent.” The voice of the animator became enthusiastic: “Police agent. Did you hear that: police agent. That is great!” My wife was not pleased. Neither was I.

Yours gratefully
On my last day in the office and my last workday I noticed, that one of the functional application  managers had not dropped by to say goodbye. So I went to his desk. The talk, that followed, was about gone times, the present time and  times to come.

During the talk we had walked to the door to the corridor. It was the door to a new future for me. It was time to say goodbye. While shaking hands the functional application manager extended his left arm and patted on my shoulder. He let his smile disappear and instead he pressed his lips together to suppress his sadness. “You fare well.”
At that very moment I really felt appreciated as a tester.

 

Can we scale down the tests?

The harmonica is a music instrument to carry with you easily. It has a disadvantage. If you have one with E scale, then it is difficult to play songs in another scale. You miss tones and it is harder to change tones. There are different solutions to this problem: you could bend tones or just buy a chromatic harmonica. But it will still be awkward to play tunes in another scale. So it is difficult to scale down.

If a manager walks into your cubicle with a suggestion to scale down tests, then it is time to get the big picture before the decision to skip tests. Let’s go back to George, my favorite fictive tester, and his fictive testers, whom he coach, and their fictive technology.

No real reason to scale down

At eleven o’clock in the morning George joined the meeting of the software testers.
“Hi every one, you had a nice weekend?”
“Yes, I just got back from Texas”, Pete said.
“The last time you advised me to sneak in testing terms instead of clarifying the test definitions and their benefits. Especially after a kind manager request to scale down the tests.”
George nodded.
“So I went to my boss and I said:
“The customer wanted a leather steering wheel. It is advisable to do a regression test: can you still steer the car in the right direction?”
My boss got the point and arranged, that I could join the car test team in Texas with the latest version of the leather steering wheel.”

Pete started fiddling with his smart phone.
“You really have to see this.
Jack, could you please open a port on the projector, so I can stream this movie?”
The screen showed a picture of the latest car model under test in a desert. The reactions of the other testers came directly:
“Nice headlights!”
“Great design.”
“Hey, I tested those side mirrors.”
George noticed: “This footage looks professional.”
Pete answered: “This is a standard procedure. There are 4 cameras recording. The one, whose images are shown on the screen, is from the observer at the start.”

“That’s me.”
On screen Pete came walking with a filled bottle of Vodka.
“Now you have to watch this and listen.”
Pete said on screen: “Hey guys, as promised: I will lose this bottle, if I do not find a bug.”
Chuckling was heard from the speakers and in the room.
Pete put the bottle on the ground and started the car.
He drove a small circle around the bottle.
“Yes, your bottle is still there.”
Another circle followed by another one.

A commanding voice was heard from the speaker:
“Enough playing around, Pete. Head to the track.”
The circling continued and the car started to gain speed and slip.
“Pete, stop the car.”
The sounds of the car became harder.
“I repeat: Pete, stop the car. ”
After 10 seconds
“Okay, hit the emergency button.”
The car stood still and Pete got out of the car dizzy.

On the screen a man with a red cap wearing a head set and a microphone came in view. He went straight to the bottle. “The seal is broken. You drank.”
Pete protested: “That’s not true.”
He pulled out a breathalyzer test from his pocket and blew hard on it.
The man with red cap snatched the test from Pete´s hands and observed the test.
He continued meekly:
“So you are sober. But what went wrong with the car?”

At the background the voice of a mechanic was heard.
After a shout of pain he said: “The steering wheel is real hot under the leather. I almost burnt my hand.”
Pete said to the red cap: “I found my bug. Give me high five.”
Before the red cap knew, what was happening, he gave a high five.
“So what is your diagnosis, tester?”
“Did you burn your hand, when you gave me a high five?”
The red cap looked astonished to his hand: “Of course not.”

“In this car model a special form of servo assisted steering is used using sensors, so car drivers do not have to grip the steering wheel. A car driver can move his hand above the wheel and the car will automatically turn.“
The red cap nodded.
“While you were preparing everything for the test drive, the leather steering wheel started heating up in a closed car in the desert. Because my hand is cooler than the leather, the sensors ignored the movement of my hand. But the sensors determined, that my hands were in another position based on the temperature measurements. With the consequence, that the car made small circles.”

The red cap was impressed.
George looked also impressed: “The next time they will pay more attention to the product risks than to the solved issues.”

 

Am I lean, doctor?

This summer I went to an extraordinary museum about cars. In the Louwman Museum in The Hague cars, which are landmarks in the history of the automobiles, were shown. The range was from motorized carriages to more familiar cars on the road. The owner had also a special interest in strange cars. I discovered, that electric and hybrid cars were already used at the beginning of the 20th century. Then a piece of furniture drew my attention: the desk of Dr. Toyoda. He worked for Toyota, which has a special approach for Lean Management.

Plans 2.0

For the test project I had two iterations, which took 3 weeks each. My planning for an iteration was simple: two weeks for the functional tests and the last week for the user acceptance test. To be more precisely 40 hours in the last week for 3 end users. I mailed the test plan to everyone and I got polite decline from the end users. In a normal week they had each 8 to 12 hours left in a week. So ideally 36 hours of testing would be filled in. But it was still too short. Overwork was no option. It was time to reschedule the activities.

A few months before I had bought The Toyota Way. It was mentioned several times by experienced Lean practioners, so I bought after browsing it. Heijunka, Level out the work load, came to my mind. If I somehow could move the testing hours of the end users towards the beginning of the test iteration, then the planning problem would be solved. Suppose function A was successfully tested during the Functional Acceptance Test (FAT), why should I wait to let this function tested by the end users? If FAT went well, then the first functions could be tested by the end users in the first week of the iteration. So I made new calculations: in worst case I have 3 end users, who have 8 hours left in 3 weeks, then I come to a total of 72 hours of testing. The new test planning was easily accepted by the end users.

How to convince your manager with a door handle?

“How much time do you need to test this? “ my manager demanded.
“I cannot give an estimation, because I do not know, how it has been corrected.”
Annoyance came in her voice:
“Han Toan, what are you talking about?”
A pressing silence followed.

I looked around for a simple object to make my message clear. A powerful trick I learned from a senior business consultant. My eye fell on the door.
“Suppose, that this door handle had been broken. The supplier fixed it.”
She nodded slightly.
So I continued: “What would you test, if they only replaced the door handle?
The door? The room? The floor? The wing? The building?”
The atmosphere changed in the room: she understood it.

At that moment I did not need to use plan B:
“If the building has been replaced, would you test the structure of the building before testing the door handle?
If the complete wing has been replaced, would you check the water pipes and electrical wiring before testing the door handle?
If the door has been replaced, would you also check the lock?”

Did you test it long enough?

At the beginning of this year I was in a restaurant. It was possible to buy a drink. So the software, which took care for the supply, was good. Also the training of the people was good, because I bought more than I intended to. There was one problem: how can I empty the bottle with this straw? My first thought was: did you test it long enough? As a tester I have heard many variations: What were you testing? How did you spend your time? Or did you pay attention during testing?

The sound of nuisance

At eleven o’clock in the morning George joined the meeting of the software testers.

“Good morning. My name is George. Your boss asked me to help you. I know a lot about software testing, but not much about cars. “
“Hi George, my name is Jack. At the moment I have an important problem with the tires of sold cars. The tires wear off faster than it was the case with the previous models. So car dealers began calling to the head office. And my boss got the question: “Did you test it long enough?”“

George looked confused: “What is the relationship between tires and software? “
“Nowadays everything is computerized. The automated suspension takes care for a comfortable ride, so not every stone in the road is felt by the passengers. There is something wrong in the software of the suspension. We were able to pinpoint the problem: it is the combination of a wet surface and steep road. “

“What did you do with this information?”
“I went to my boss and I explained the problem. Up till now the suspension software was one of the most reliable parts of the system, so it was not tested intensively. We tested the cars on a wet flat road and a dry steep road. We did not test the on a wet and steep road, because time is money. “

“What was your answer on the question, whether you tested it long enough? “
“I told that at the end of the test all criteria were discussed in depth. Every stakeholder was involved. At that moment it was the best decision we could take. Furthermore I suggested to change the criteria for the suspension software. He agreed with me on the spot.”

´Why did you change the criteria?”
“Because the tires wore off.”
“What you are actually saying, is:
“I wait, until something unpleasant happens. Then I change the criteria.”“
“That’s right.”
“Is there a way to change the criteria before testing? “
“Sure, I checked the release notes beforehand. I noticed, that some components had been changed. But the functionality was basically the same. “
“Did you determine the impact of the changes of the components?”
“No, because the quality of the software was good and the functionality did not change.”
“The supplier probably did some refactoring. So the basic questions you should pose as a tester are: What did you change? and how can I test it? Then you can determine, whether the criteria must be adjusted and extra tests must be added.”

Sound check (and other interesting things in other backyards)

Xoun is a strange brand name to pronounce. The question is, whether this sounds right to shopping people. If you turn the picture upside down, you will read a known brand name in the Netherlands. (Which I associate with a mug with welcome warm soup after hours of sailing on the lakes in Friesland.) By taking a different view some things might need more attention than you might expect. In this article I will tell about three situations, in which non IT related information can be helpful for an IT engineer.

Granting a small favour

In the nineties my customer planned in a special activity to introduce internet to his employees. So I ended up talking with a woman from the legal department. She stated, that shipping information should always be mentioned. It would save her department and company a lot of time and money.

A few weeks later it was time for my courtesy call. I called the lady from the legal department. After a short introduction I came to the point: “I just discovered, that your company is selling products on the internet. I could not find the shipping information.” A silence followed, so I had to repeat the message. A muffled “Thank you” followed. A few days later the web shop was off line.

In case of surprise

A special meeting was planned and the project manager was constantly talking about Rbbit. After a while I figured out, that the Rbbit was not a nice white fluffy animal appearing in the magician’s hat, but a Big Bug in the software system. “Two weeks ago we had a Rbbit. Last week we had a Rbbit. What do you expect for next week?” I answered, that another Big Bug would show up. “What are we going to do?”. I spoke up again: “I would set up an emergency procedure.” The project manager was not pleased with the answer: “Do you expect, that I will restore the complete database?”

“If wrong information is sent to the customers, then a new mail must be sent to them, that they should ignore the information in the sent mail. You could also add information, when the right information will be sent. The next step is to investigate and solve the problem.” The project manager finally agreed: he needed phone numbers of people in the operations department and operational measures.

What’s it in for them?

As a software tester it is very tempting to use different plug ins in your browser to analyse web sites. During one of my trials I encountered a tool, which provided me much information. I did not understand, why the tool was given away for free. The web site for the plug in tool was basically stressing the benefits. At that moment I was doubtful, whether I had installed malware.

After more extensive searches on the web I discovered a related business web site, which offered information about websites. This information was gathered by users using the above mentioned plug in. So the business model was as follows: determine, which information is useful for IT people. Provide a free tool for collecting information and sell the gathered information with a nice profit.