Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The way we teach through stories

We all have our lived lives and experiences acquired. We use those experiences to channel stories to illustrate the points we make in our presentations. My whole talk on a conference yesterday was about lessons I've picked up over the years on the features that would make me a better tester and could be of value to others. Working to become more kind and considerate, understanding that this is not about individuals but collaborative efforts are some of my key learnings that I feel transfer well over time.

There were absolutely wonderful sessions and discussions throughout the day. Richard Bradshaw was  articulate and delivered fun, experience-filled stories to illustrate his points about things he has included in his tester job to take things forward in projects he's been on recently. Anders Dinsen lead people on a thought-provoking journey to think of the really big problems that could take businesses down and our potential in missing those. Ash Coleman (in her debate with James Bach) gave tangible ideas on how we could find the future testers to the growing industry and I appreciated the insight the debate gave to understanding that experts can feel threatened by the new entries to the field. Bernie Berger shared testing insights illustrated with movie clips, and a test tools panel showed a very versatile round of experiences available in the room.

At a point of the day, I was kind of tuned out and thinking of what kinds of experiences, in particular but not limited to tools and automation I would find useful and I tweeted:
Surely there is historical value in remembering all the things that color our past, but also, we often talk to rooms of people who were not there 20 years ago. Who are not working with technologies from 20 years ago. Who are not in organizations stuck to where we were as industry 20 years ago.

Some of my personal experiences and stories can be entertaining lessons of history, but more from a folklore point of view than as helpful advice to current everyday life.

The conference yesterday was in the day. It was a New Testing Conference. Surely there was a glimpse of folklore here and there. And there were people from organizations that even today feel like they live 20 years in the future. But the glimpses of folklore made me aware of the amount of folklore I introduce when I talk. And I'd like to be aware of speaking (and choosing speakers) who will speak of recent experiences, reflecting against a relevant base of past experience to see the recent learnings and approaches deeply.

My developers haven't hated me for being a tester for almost 10 years. Why do I still keep mentioning that and transfer the expectation of bad relations to the new people? Do I need the old stories, or could I just source from the new stories of wonderful developer relations to set that as an example of what I expect to see?

The mechanisms I had to manage releases and release dates are completely different from the agile approaches to having continuous releases. How relevant is it to tell about the hard times of the past, when there is a way out of that hard time?

1 comment:

  1. Is releasing the past really that vital? I think there is still value in telling about at least some of the experiences from back then - so that the rest of us will at least know such things happen.
    Because, just as there are organizations living 20 years in the future, there are those who live 20 years in the past. Furthermore - those who did well 20 years ago and are still around, are likely to be now in senior (or management) positions, and hearing those stories gives some basic vocabulary and softens the surprise of finding out that such things exist.
    For instance, my way in software testing began in 2012, when I got out of the University. I landed in a great team that has skilled people, good collaboration, and mutual appreciation. There are things to improve, but work is great. Recently, We recruited (or rather, hired as a contractor) a new, experienced, developer. His main approach and assumptions were pretty similar to those I've heard about in stories. Since I knew where his ideas were coming from, I was able to avoid being offended (or seriously offended, anyway) by his approach, and don't have to try and figure out how on earth could he think that way - Instead I was able to have a short chat with him about it and at least make the other side heard.

    So, for me - there is some value in knowing some of the history. It is great to move forward, but let's leave a small place for history as well.