Last weekend SoftEd and James Bach hosted the first Kiwi Workshop on Software Testing (KWST) at the SoftEd offices in Wellington. This event is special because of the very specific way it is set up and run (which I’ll discuss below). This particular event was also very special because of all the people who came along (on a Friday and Saturday) and contributed so much to the discussions we had. It definitely felt like the beginning of a conversation about the future of the testing profession, rather than a stand-alone event and we can’t wait to see what happens next! For more on the content of the KWST, read Brian Osman’s blog post.
So what are the rules? Firstly it is by invitation only and has a maximum of 20 participants. This is to ensure a wide range of backgrounds and opinions, but also some shared attributes, so in this case all of the participants were testing managers who would have enough shared experience to understand each other, but enough unique experience to learn from each other. Also keeping a cap on numbers is helpful because the conversations can go on for a long time. Even with the 20 or so people we had, KWST could have easily lasted two weeks rather than two days!
Secondly the facilitation role is essential (massive thanks to Brian Osman for his heroic efforts there!). This is because everyone who attends KWST can make a presentation or deliver an ‘experience report’ and then a discussion can stem from there involving the whole group. There isn’t always time for everyone to give a presentation, but everyone gets the chance to participate in the discussion and it is not over until everyone is satisfied, which also has the consequence that a typical event will be able to cover no more than two or three topics at the most.
To aid the facilitator there are cards which each participant is given. If someone wants to contribute to the current discussion they hold up their yellow ‘same thread’ card. To start a new thread on the same topic they hold up their green ‘new thread’ card. Where they have something of high importance to contribute they hold up their red ‘high priority’ card and finally (perhaps most importantly) if the discussion is going off on a massive tangent anyone can hold up their purple ‘rat hole’ card. There is a fantastic blog post on how to run these events which covers more detail, especially about the role of the facilitator and to be honest if I were to write anymore I’d merely be copying what it said, so if you’re interested please follow this link to read it.
Of course you can also include games, plenty of breaks and delicious food to keep the brain active. For even more info on what was discussed at the event, the best thing to do is read the twitter feed of some of the participants: James Bach, Brian Osman, Aaron Hodder, Farid Vaswani, Oliver Erlewein, Richard Robinson and Nadine Brown or you can do a twitter search for the hashtag #KWST to see all the news! This new event framework has given us lots to think about. If you have any thoughts or ideas you would like to share, please leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you.
See the rest of the photos from the event on flickr