Visiting a conference is always something special! They are the opportunity to learn the newest stuff of your profession and to exchange with other people who are as evangelistic as yourself… Having said that, I had the opportunity to visit the Agile Testing Days in Potsdam in late November 2023. I would like to share parts of my journey during these days and how we can try to transport the vibe to our workplace.
The Agile Testing Days are not just another testing conference. With focus on agile, they see the importance of enabling people to take responsibility – in this case for quality. An enablement is so much more than just “learning testing” or “looking at test tools”. It stretches out to the enablement of the complete human. This includes:
Creating a safe space
Everyone, across all nations, all body shapes, all abilities, all neuro-diversities, hair colors and all genders can only grow and contribute without fear. At the agile testing days, there have been rooms, contacts and lots of role models which made you understand and feel that diversity is accepted. I personally liked most the guys with dresses! So beautiful and accepted. You think, that does not relate to your environment? But do you know, who does not dare to live to his or her full creativity? By ensuring safe spaces, people did not need to hide their special selves.
Agile is not just another software development process, but a mindset
People at the agile testing days love the agility as such. Empowerment of people to lead, organizational models without hierarchy, … all of these seem one aspect to have self responsible people… Self respecting people also support sustainable teams… So as a consequence there were also quite a few talks on how to create an agile context to its best…
Hot Sh** – AI is everywhere, or?
As any conference in 2023, many of the talks and even workshops relate to the idea of incorporating AI into testing. There are already many tools out there, that use AI as support. Examples would be all tools that support the visual identification of deviations. Or tools that help describing better bug reports. Or… there have been many ideas for supporting testing with AI based tools. Mainly they still rely on a human to decide, how to proceed with the result, thus speeding up the boring work. But before you get there, there is a lot of training needed, domain specific and respecting intellectual property.
In one of the keynotes, the speaker (Andrew Knight) changed perspectives: He just came from the year 2035 and looked back at the stuff we had endured before… Starting from the beginning of formal testing in the seventies via black box automation, continuous testing to crowd testing to whatever AI might bring – it was a long journey. With many draw backs, confusions, efforts – and steps forwards. From the perspective of 2035 he explained that the next step would be autonomous testing using AI – where test automation is decoupled from assertion of correctness. He also had some ideas, how agile will adapted to enable more asynchronous work… but to me it seems his glasses were a bit cloudy… I could not get the picture. More interesting for me was the questions: as a large enterprise, we are obviously not doing the hot sh** – and that for a reason. However, do we have to take all steps the past brought? Which fallacies can we avoid? A concrete topic could be the way how to use test automation. We are already evaluating a AI supported approach. However, we have not yet managed to get the data security agreements that are needed yet. …
Everyone is a leader
Zuzi Sochowa’s keynote reflected a different path – the one from an process-understanding of agility (it is more flexible, has more transparency towards meeting goals, …) to an agility in terms of shared purpose. The idea would be to move from a large vessel to many agile sailing boats that want to go into the same direction.
On they way, the obvious advantages of agility (for example fast feedback, coaching, … ) alone will not suffice, you might find out in a nightmare… Together with collaboration and a system perspective you can create a culture that support true agility.
The additional step would be that we all need to become leaders in our own area of expertise. And this is not only that you are the best experts, but also that
you plan to improve, by setting yourself goals and creating space to work towards these goals. One method to support tis is working with experiments. Experiments are small activities that are meant to prove a certain hypotheses. If you experiment on the right level, you can learn from success and from failure without doing harm.
The Yellow Way
By now you probably think, this does not relate to our daily enterprise work – how should we apply it in in our “Yellow Way” as we call it?
I think we have to use and adopt lots of little advices. Many of them can help us in our agile transformation. Some will help us to get to speed with AI in testing. But also there have been many sessions related to the day to day craft of testing (more than 50 I would say), and the small team from my company went to many of them. Afterwards we thought about how to incorporate that into our daily work. Below is the result… The next steps are to be planned… But there are already a few actions written down. The enthusiasm of the conference is probably already a bit smoothened… but that is why we created a collection of important learnings to look at every once in a while… Let the experimentation start!