Friday, May 31, 2013

Paul is Definitely Alive!

Last night I had the opportunity to check off a bucket list item - getting to see Paul McCartney perform live in concert. It was an amazing show flawlessly performed by 5 guys who can rock. Click here for the review.

At age 70, McCartney is an inspiration to me. Talk about energy!

I was contrasting this concert to the Eric Clapton concert I went to a couple of months ago. Don't get me wrong - I really like Eric Clapton, too. He's one of the greatest guitarists of all time. But...he mainly played, took a bow, did an encore, took another bow and left. Very little audience interaction.

At last night's concert, I felt like I was at a party jamming with old friends. Paul told funny and touching stories. He expressed his empathy at the losses recently in the tornadoes. I thought "Let it Be" was the perfect song for that. It was also a classy thing to do to come back on the 2nd Encore, waving the Oklahoma Flag, with someone else carrying the British flag.

I know that discussing the relative talent and appeal of artists is very subjective. All I can say is that McCartney entertained. Big time. And the audience wanted more, even after 2 encores.

To quote from the review, “You have been a fantastic crowd here tonight in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but there does come a time when we gotta go home … and there comes a time when you gotta go home, too,” the rocker cautioned the crowd after delivering the weirdly wonderful combo of “Yesterday” and “Helter Skelter.”

As I was just letting it all soak in on the 2-hour drive back to Oklahoma City, I was thinking that I have fans in what I do, and you have fans in what you do.  If you are reading this as one of my fans, this will have meaning to you. I don't see things like a lot of other consultants and trainers see them. I have a special "sound" you might say.

So, play to your audience and let the others go find the sound they like. No need to change your sound to please them. Not everyone will like your sound. In fact, some people will like some of what you do, but not all of what you do. That helps make you better; it helps make me better!

By the way, I have a recorded presentation on How to Be a Software Testing Rock Star at

Some takeaways:
  • Know what pleases your audience and give it to them.
  • Give a little extra
  • Leave them wanting more (that came from Will Rogers)
  • Be gracious and kind
  • Have fun
  • Rock it loud!

Until next time...


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Where Do You Keep Your Lessons Learned?

I'll never forget a conversation I had with a client one day. It was just before we were both going to make a presentation of assessment findings and recommendations to senior management.

I asked her if she felt senior management would be willing to take action on the recommendations. "Oh yes," she said. "They don't want another Project X (fictitious name) to happen." I realized I had missed something in my interviews.

"Project X?" I asked.

"Yes, it went over budget by $1 million dollars and was a big black eye on our company," she said.

"Why was that?"

"Lack of solid test practices, people not communicating well....all the thing you have there in your PowerPoint deck," she said.

This got me thinking about something we all know and discuss, namely, "lessons learned." We mention them as if they are in a book like the President's Book of Secrets.

However, I think that is seldom the case.

My belief is that most of the lessons learned are in people's heads, which makes sense. So are requirements, test criteria and a lot of other things. Not a great storage method, but it is reality for many.

I'm not even proposing there should be a book of lessons learned. However, I think they should be reflected in practices, processes, systems, whatever you use to guide work.

One thing  I have found inexpensive and effective is a team knowledgebase. Whether it be a wiki or some other method, at least it is accessible.

Of course, I must also mention the evil twin of lessons learned, "lessons not learned." This one is painful and we all are well-acquainted with it. Imagine the Homer Simpson facepalm and you have it.

It is frustrating because then we are left asking "Why don't we learn from the hard knocks?"

Here is my short list of reasons:

1. Lack of reflection - We don't regroup and reflect after a major event, so we never identify the key learnings, even as individuals.

2. The pain is not great enough - It's like "death by a thousand paper cuts" so we ignore the event and move on. I have often said that there is nothing like a good disaster to get management's attention.

3. Lack of leadership - A good leader and coach knows how to remind the team "Don't do that!"without being a jerk. Good leaders also knows how to fix the process to prevent the mistakes from happening again.

4. Short memories - Time can heal a lot of wounds. Five years from now, Project X, might not seem so bad. However, a new Project X could be devastating. Remember when we blew up the moon (just kidding!)?

By the way, the lessons learned don't have to be your own. In sifting through the rubble of the Moore tornado, I have found several pictures I have turned into the picture lost and found effort. Hopefully, they will be reunited with their owners.

I am now on a mission to take digital pictures of all my prints, DVD copies of all videos and put them in a bank storage box, just in case. I am taking a video of all our personal property "just in case." Oh, and I'm also working on getting a storm shelter installed. Two F5 tornadoes close by in 14 years are too many for me!

I would like to hear how you and your team handles "lessons learned." Leave a comment and let me know.



Friday, May 24, 2013

Test Profession Survey Results Preview

First, thanks for your thoughts, prayers and concerns after the tornado this week. I helped a friend go through the rubble of her former home on Monday. It was amazing to see her positive attitude. As we arrived at the debris, she said, "Welcome to my humble abode."

While there, she was interviewed by a Brazilian TV crew who also remarked to me how impressed they were with her attitude. Yes, that is inspiring, and many others here are also holding up well even in trying times.

 Also, thanks for those of you responded to the test professional survey last week. I ended up with 100 responses. I need a while longer to write the article (and perhaps white paper) on this, but I thought you might want to see some early results.

I am working on the article and should have it by next week. To me, the early impressions are that (at least to those that responded) the majority of testers see themselves as professionals and it is important to have that view. Management may not see testers as professionals as much, but there is still a significant percentage of managers that do find importance in the view of a test professional as opposed to some other view. I think this has some larger, and very good, implications for those of us in the field of software testing.

More to come soon. Of course, I would love to get your thoughts on these findings.

For those in the U.S., have a great Memorial Day. Remember those who have given their lives for our freedom. Remember those who are rebuilding in Oklahoma.

Thanks as always for being the best at what you do!


Monday, May 20, 2013

Update on May 20 Tornado

Hi Folks,

Thanks to everyone who has contacted me concerning the tornadoes here today. Thankfully, we were spared, barely.

I was at a client in OKC to attend at 2:00 meeting, which was canceled. It was looking stormy, so I decided to head home. About when I arrived home, the tornado sirens started to sound.

As the tornado approached, I was on the back porch watching it come directly toward us. Just like May 3rd, 1999 all over again. So, I hustled Janet and our two pugs into the car and drove north. We don't have a storm shelter (I think we will soon). The tornado took a turn toward the east, so no damage at our place. But, the loss of life and damage is terrible, especially the children at the school.

(This is a short video I shot from our car. You can see the tornado moving from the right of the screen to the left behind the Homeland store.)

Both our sons and families are fine, although had Ryan (our oldest) and his family not moved 6 years ago, they would have been wiped out and our oldest grandson would have been at the school where the 7 children died.

I don't what it is about Moore. It's like a tornado magnet. It's just really bad here right now. Your prayers are needed.

The people here are tough and resilient. We will rebuild and go on, but the loss of life is the worst part. 51 lives lost as of this writing.



Update: May 21

Here are some more pictures:

This is the path of the tornado:

Here is what I was looking at on radar on my iPad when I decided it was time to bug out:

Here is a pretty dramatic picture after the first tornado. This is a second lowering. This didn't form into a tornado:

Friday, May 17, 2013

Help With a Survey on Software Test Profesionals

I am working on an article about software testing as a profession. This is a controversial topic to some people and I would like to get your thoughts.

I have created a very short (10-question) survey that will help me write this article. It will only allow 50 respondents, but I would like to invite anyone to participate at:
I will share the results and also let you know when the article is out.

Thanks for your help!


Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Thoughts on the ISTQB Open Letter

Since it is hard to elaborate a response in 140 characters, I am blogging this. First, full disclosure, I am on the board of directors of the ASTQB and I am a training provider of ISTQB certification courses, as well as over 60 other courses I have written. (I make a small percentage of my income from ISTQB training.) I was also a founding author of the CSTE test certification from QAI. This is from my own perspective and does not represent the views of the ISTQB or ASTQB.

Second, I really believe as testers we have the right and responsibility to ask questions. So my issue is not with the asking of questions. We can still be friends.

I tweeted yesterday that "The open letter to the ISTQB is meaningless." Here's why.

1. The letter fails to distinguish between the ISTQB and the country examination boards (such as the ASTQB, Canadian Testing Board, UKTB, etc.) that write and administer the exams. Therefore, the ISTQB does not write exam questions. To get the answers to the questions about the validity of questions and coefficients, you would have to write such a request to each individual country exam board. The ISTQB may provide a high-level response, but it can't answer the detailed questions posed because it simply doesn't have the information.

2. There are Non-disclosure Agreements in place to protect the intellectual property of each country board and the ISTQB in general. One of the challenges with any exam (ITIL, PMP, etc.) is to keep the contents of the exam confidential as to prevent questions from being passed around. There is a sample exam available on the ASTQB website that gives a flavor of the questions being asked. Kryterion would not release results because they also have confidentiality restrictions.

3. "Have there ever been any problems with the validity of the exams?" This is like asking, "Are you still beating your wife?" Everything has shortcomings. The reason the ASTQB invested in independent exam reviews and measurement was to make the exam as valid as possible.

I agree that the questions on the exam must be a valid reflection of the learning objectives in the syllabus.  As a training provider, I don't know what is on the exam. There is a firm line of separation. I focus on the methods and application as opposed to the brain cram approach.

That's it for now. Gotta get back to the test lab.