Dumbfounded by Or Hilch

A different perspective on Boundary Testing

The book ‘Boundaries after a pathological relationship‘ by Adele Birch has a load of practical advice on boundaries in relationships. As Trish Khoo who recommended it to me said: “even if you don’t think you’ve had a pathological relationship, this is a good guide to setting and enforcing personal boundaries”, and it is. It’s full of practical advice and tips on understanding, setting and managing boundaries.

This book applies to work too. Setting boundaries is vital to maintain healthy relationships within your workplace. Thinking about and setting boundaries between yourself, your peers, business partners, your managers and if you’re in a leadership position, people who report to you will help you better cope when one of these boundaries is violated.

When you are a minority on a team, as  testers frequently are this becomes even more important. Because unless your team works hard at creating a safe team environment, speaking up as a minority can be difficult and costly. It can be hard to be heard in a retro when your dot has to work against 7 other collective dots focused on other priorities.

Work has other challenges too. We are all familiar with the ‘delegator’ who happily shoves responsibility onto other’s shoulders as if its the most natural place for it to reside (it isn’t).Without clear boundaries, many are likely to take on responsibilities that are not actually theirs. There’s and old but wonderful book called the One Minute Manager meets Monkey recommended to me by Graham Lea on this topic. Worth a read if you’re can’t understand why you seem to have too much on your plate.

Without firm boundaries, you can end up carrying the workload, while your team pats themselves on the back at the consistent work flow produced.

The book describes different types of boundaries you might want to consider with examples of what these might be. One exercise is to describe the personalities and traits of your ideal partner. This probably isn’t that useful for a work relationship, we don’t get to pick and chose who we work with. Instead of thinking of one partner, replace it with company values. Know what you will or will not tolerate in a working relationship.

At some point in your working career some one will intentionally or unintentionally cross one of your boundaries.  Knowing what they are, and what you are prepared to tolerate (and not tolerate) will prevent feelings of violation and powerlessness. Being able to uphold your boundaries can be frightening for many of us, but when you manage it (and I believe you will) it’s empowering and liberating.

Ringo

It doesn’t mean that you will be impervious to boundaries being broken. In my experience, some boundaries can only be discovered after being crossed. We are after human, and our boundaries will probably shift as we journey through life. Hopefully, though with a little bit of practise, you will find it easier to maintain healthy boundaries and move to building solid team relationships.

I’ll leave you with a mindmap of the lessons I learned from this book and applied to the work context.

Boundaries at work by A Charrett

Proviso: I’m not an expert in this field by any means. I’ve written this post based on my own work experiences and the advice may not relate in any way to your context.

Mount Everest

The Base Camp Heuristic

The ‘Base Camp’ heuristic is the work required to find any bug. Typically ‘Base Camp’ bugs tend to be low lying fruit and can be found quickly, especially if a tester is experienced. In the world of Daniel Kahneman, these bugs are found using Systems 1 thinking.

To discover an ‘Everest’ type bug requires Base Camp intuition plus more. For example a tester might need to deliberate over the product in detail, question the diversity of the data, the validity of the oracle(s)under use and the procedure required for testing.It may mean you need to create new tools, or find new ways to track the unknown.

That means you’re going to need mental training to extend the boundaries of your thinking, determination to continue when the easy answers stop flowing and some tactics to help you refocus and come up with new solutions when you run out of ideas.

You may feel dismayed because everyone around you is finding bugs at a rapid pace. You may even encounter skepticism because you appear to be showing no value. But Everest quality bugs are not meant to be easy to find. They require stamina, commitment and courage.

It’s rare to find bugs of this calibre without training and serious commitment.

Maybe I’m not going to climb Mount Everest every day, abut as an aspiration I’d like at least some of my bugs to be of the Everest calibre.

How about you?

No women speakers? No Bother!

That might surprise you if you listened the Eurostar Webinar last week where Fiona Charles and I explored the numbers of women speaking at software testing conferences. If you didn’t hear it you can now  (Spoiler ahead it’s roughly 25%*)

FemaleConferenceSpeakers

 

Considering that there are more women in testing than other technical professions you might be surprised by this.

Unfortunately I’m not surprised. Fortunately, I’m not bothered by this. In fact, I’m not even bothered that in 2015 the percentage of women speakers has dropped in some conferences, or that the number of women on program committees for many conferences is a big fat zero.

Percentage of women on program committees

I’m disappointed of course, but I’m not bothered by it.

That’s because there are some phenomenal women in software testing and they’re taking the matter into their own hands.

Rosie Sherry working with Anna Royzman for example, has dropped the teaser that women makeup ~50% of TestBashNY 2015 using a merit based selection process. They had a lot of women submitting proposals and I think it’s clear why. What female tester wouldn’t want to speak at a conference run by those two phenomenal and respected women?

There’s more though:

Maaret Pyhäjärvi & Adi Bolboacă have decided to create a conference that they would want to attend. It’s called the European Testing Conference 

Mieke Gevers & Nadine Raes run Belgium Testing Days and there’s typically a high percentage of women speakers (30% this year).

I’m sure there are other examples too.

It’s simple folks. When you create an culture where women feel welcome to speak, the submissions come flooding in.  What does that mean? Well, perhaps women no longer need to be concerned about being underrepresented at dinosaur conferences. Instead, women can focus on conferences that are already offering a healthy environment. Conferences were women are compelled to submit.

I suggest that for any conference in software testing, if the trend of  women speakers is decreasing or wildly fluctuating, if the percentage is consistently below 25%, then conference organisers need to rethink how they are attracting talent.

FemaleSpeakersByConferenceTime

In this day and age, I think there is little excuse for poor female representation. Conferences such as CAST have demonstrated it can be done. CAST has high calibre talks and a high percentage of female speakers. Who would have thought?

How about you, do you think conferences organisers need to rethink how they attract talent?

*figures were taken based on information on websites. We may have made errors in counting, but we think they are fairly accurate representation. Please let us know if we’ve made any glaring stuff ups.