STANZ 2009 – The best of both worlds!

04 Sep

Have you ever had the chance to attend every session that you wanted to at a conference? I was lucky enough to be able to go to STANZ 2009 in Wellington, New Zealand AND STANZ 2009 in Sydney, Australia this month. I was able to attend all the sessions that I wanted to and what a boon that was.

The line up of presenters was enough to challenge anyone who only had the chance to go to one version of the conference. To do them each a justice, I’ll do a series postings: James Bach today, Lee, Karen, Brian, Geoff, Linden etc to follow….

 James Bach – a powerful speaker who has the ability to vitalise or revitalise you (depending on your age :-)) and makes you think, HARD! I find that James is really skillful at taking your happy little testing world and tilting it over…and making you re-examine what you are doing and how you are doing it.

“Becoming a Software Testing Expert” was a title that appealed to me, not withstanding that James was presenting. So I just had to attend to find out how to do this….and so I did….James talked us through the differences between perception and reality. He highlighted that expertise may not be dependent on the qualificationsthat you have but it is related to your ability to test things. He also outlined some key attributes that “experts” tend to have and tend to do.  I really enjoyed how he linked this back to Steve McQueen in Towering Inferno (for those of us old enough to remember this fabulous movie!). He also highlighted that sometimes expectations of the expert need to be tempered with reality and context! His levels four levels of learning (to be discussed in later blogs) really made me sit up and think, as did his concepts of developing expertise. The winner though….the 36 Testing Heuristics! Wow…I WANT TO BE ABLE TO REMEMBER THIS!!

cidtestdsfdpotcrusspicstmplfdsfscura ….to be explained in another blog later (I promise!)

As Brian said ( James approach of “Huh?, Really? and So?” is a quick and easy way for you to think about things differently, and to challenge the status-quo.  James is excellent at challenging any of your status-quos and is more than happy to have “vigorous” discussions about any state of play within the Testing (and other) communities. A key learning from this session was “always test your assumptions”. It is an aspect that we sometimes forget to follow up, usually because we don’t always know that we have made them. Critical thinking is something to learn and apply to your testing, and yourself!

As a proponent of ISTQB training I was very interested to hear how much overlap there was between James’ approach to testing in “Think Like a Tester” and the ISTQB Foundation and Advanced Syllabi. I’m glad that testing is growing in popularity within the Software Development Community, and I think that people of Jame’s calibre help enhance the profile and growth of testing.

I was also able to spend some time with James learning the “Dice Game” – no…we were not gambling our life savings away. James and Michael Bolton have established a series of games that allow people to practice and grow their testing skills. It was a wonderful way to spend an hour listening and learning from James. It was also challenging as I tried to figure out the pattern. Sadly I did not have enough time to finish the exercise (duty called) but I was able to learn a lot about myself (which always hurts!) and my testing approach (which is not bad but could do with some tweaks).

James, as always, made me think, made me challenge my assumptions and made me understand my limitations and potential!  He also fired me up again to be even MORE enthusiastic about testing (scary huh??)

If you ever get the chance…you have to see James speak. If you can’t see him, read his blog and books.

posted by Sharon Robson

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Posted by on September 4, 2009 in Agile, Quality, Testing


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