Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Appreciating Special Programmers

I'm having this phase in my life where I feel like going to conferences to speak isn't really my thing. I don't think it is the infamous imposter syndrome, because there's plenty of stuff for me to share on. While I might have low self esteem in some areas of life, work isn't one of those areas.

So in this moment of crisis, I think of things that have changed for me. I realize one of the things that has changed a lot is how I identify. I remember tweeting with Adi Bolboaca about two years ago who I insist that testers would not be called developers and I can see the irony in now organizing European Testing Conference with Adi and not being able to recall why I would have ever wanted to insist on that, other than fear of losing appreciation for my special skills in testing.

So I keep thinking what (and who) changed my mind, and realizing it has been a group of individuals that never tried changing me.

It all starts with Vladimir Tarasow, who invited me to speak in Latvia for an Exploratory Testing Training and then the Wildcard conference. Wildcard was one of the first mixed role conferences I've been to and Vladimir and his colleagues were first developers I met that cared (enough to act on it) on the community of testers and testing.

Since I was at Wildcard, I participated on sessions. And one of the sessions was full Saturday long Code Retreat, facilitated by Adi Bolboaca.

I loved Code Retreat and could recognize my team would love it too, so Adi came and taught a wonderful day for my two teams programmers. And unlike in the conference where I sat through the day, here I stepped down for feeling insufficient.

These people together with my programmers at work started a learning path in which I appreciated code quality in relation to end user quality in our efforts, and started looking more deeply into ways those two are intertwined.

Adding into the picture was being encouraged to re-learn to program through Mob Programming and Strong-Style Pair Programming, I can't even pinpoint who, when and where changed my mind. I can just recognize it did and find it fascinating.

I think the keys to this change have been:
  • No one tried to "change" me but just allowed safe experiences and discussions where we could agree to disagree, and we did
  • I had free capacity for learning widely over previous choice of deeply into exploratory testing, as every day brings more capacity if you just stick around long enough
  • Other things I wanted (closer human connection at work, not sub optimizing testing but optimizing the product development) required me to do things I wouldn't have otherwise volunteered to do
  • I connected with great people on my way, that I can only properly appreciate in hindsight
So Vladimir, I owe you a beer. Clearly. Thank you. I never realized how many aspects of our paths crossing had a meaning to me.