Camp Day I

Among the topics I heard discussed today:
– coaching non-testers through paired work
– being a role model
– working constructively with tester diversity
– testing challenges/games/exercises
– agile testing in a waterfall world
– coaching when you don’t know what you’re doing.

I added The Clean Coder and Management 3.0 to my reading list.

I discovered the name Gary A. Klein for further research.

I spent a lot of time learning from extremely smart people. I hope I asked some provocative questions.

Much to my surprise, it took us until 4:45 for the topic of “what is test coaching?” to take over the forefront… and, much to the relief of several conference attendees, the topic seemed to fizzle quickly. People here are much more interested in getting better at test coaching than deciding exactly what test coaching is. (I wonder if having no firsthand experience of what an athletic coach does… helps or hinders developing a mental model of test coaching.)

There are many things other than working software that we can be testing. Some that struck me today:

* Are you testing your business model? For viability? For security holes? For whether it is delivering the value it should be? Who’s the stakeholder for this?

* Is your process aligned to the true needs of the stakeholders? Are individuals’ local optimizations oriented to global optimizations by proper incentives? Are you doing everything to reduce moral hazard in your organization?

* Are you regularly smelling your code for some of the 3 classic coder mistakes: poorly thought-out names and off-by-one errors?

In mircocosm, these seem to be three major approaches for testers making the legitimate case that their value is greater than mere bug-finding: Pushing higher into the business and testing what the senior executive really cares about; pushing higher into the dev org and testing what the delivery managers really care about; pushing deeper into technology and testing what the developers really care about. All of these are also exercises in making other professionals on the team look good.

Humility and service are among the virtues of an effective test coach.

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