Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Learning and planning for learning

I'm one of the people who loves doing lists. I have lists of things I should do, and when I feel overwhelmed with what I need to be doing, I find myself doing lists again.

Recently I've come to realize that lists are procrastination. Making a list isn't going to take the work forward. Doing the work takes the work forward. So I'm trying get off my list-making habit.

In my blogging, I've moved from making a list of topics and planning for writing to writing - in case anyone wonders how I manage to write so much, now you know! In organizing events, I moved to doing over planning even earlier. I just follow an inspiration someone provides by needing a stage or sharing something I want to learn and rather than think about how it's done, just do it. It will get done by doing.

An area where I really struggle with my inherent instinct to plan is learning. When there's so much to learn and I dislike shallow learning, how do I choose my next focus? What do I feel strongly about that I want to learn it, and in particular, how do I prioritize so that I have time to learn.

Through coaching new speakers, I've been fortunate to hear the very inspiring story of Bhagya Perera. With her determination of learning and turning her learning into action, she scheduled an hour a day for a side project and awed everyone with results. There's something relevant for me to learn there that I want to try: cadence. Regularly using an hour a day is better than using five hours one day, when you have a theme of learning that you want to apply into action.

Today I heard from a tester colleague she now wants to learn unit testing having been exposed to Test-Driven Development in Python in a session hosted for us. The curiosity of how, with smaller scale tests she could be more helpful to her developer colleagues was wonderful to see.

Seeing her chosen focus made me again think of mine. To avoid making a full list, I decided I will just share my themes in a post.

Vision: I work in a new company, and want to find ways of specifically learn things that will increase my impact as a tester.

Theme 1. C++. I've been tossing around the idea of C++ vs. Python and three things lead me to close my 6-month plan to C++. First, I'm too absent-minded to work on two languages at once - it takes a stronger routine. Second, I was just selected to receive diversity ticket to Meeting C++ -conference. Third, that language is the language of my developers and the ground in which my impact can be most significant.

Theme 2. Structured exploration in multi-team setting. I have a new product to learn deeply. As a result of my learning, taking the learning journey for a next tester should be different. I need to figure out ways of scaling my personal approach of structured exploration, taking the project I work with to continuous delivery that I  left behind changing jobs.

Theme 3. Software security. I could say this is related to working with security products, but it's really coming out of an opportunity. There's a MOOC course (free) online called Cyber Security Base that University of Helsinki organizes together with my employer, and that is just too good opportunity to pass. To keep this engaging, I will remote mob on the exercises, so in case you're in the course and not a university student, my study group welcomes more participants. I figure that since I'm not really into the credits, the worst they can do for mobbing is to say they don't encourage group work. And that would make little sense to me, as long as we are all learning what the course teaches.

There's a million themes I would really also like to learn, but these are, for a period of time, my themes. We'll see where I'm with those in six months.