Posted on July 16, 2010 in Uncategorized by adamNo Comments »

The Business of Software Conference is increasingly demanding attention on my ‘I think I could learn a lot from’ list. So it was not that surprising that the recording of Kathy Sierra’s talk from the 2009 version caught my eye. And continued to hone my opinion of how businesses should be run and my orientation towards certain details when testing.


  • ‘Get Lucky’ is not a business model
  • Which is better?
    • Their product is awesome
    • Their service is awesome
    • Their company is awesome

    It’s actually a trick question. The right answer is I’m awesome

  • People with passion…
    • Show off
    • Learn
    • Continuously improve
    • Spend time
    • Spend money
    • Evangelize
    • Elevate the meaning
    • Connect
  • Its not about the tools, its about what the tool enables
  • Don’t sell me, teach me and I’ll sell myself
  • I don’t want to be an expert at the camera, i want to be an expert in photography
  • Don’t make a better [x], make a better [user of x]
  • Don’t make a killer app, make a killer user
  • Focus on what the user does, not what you do
  • What [bigger cooler thing] is enabled
  • Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult
  • 10 years vs 1 year repeated 10 times
Posted on July 16, 2010 in Uncategorized by adamNo Comments »

TWST is the Toronto Workshop on Software Testing and is, well, a workshop on software testing in Toronto hosted annually by Fiona Charles and Michael Bolton.

This year Fiona posted this as a focusing topic:

I’m really interested in how we report on testing to project stakeholders.

Do we use narratives, graphics, metrics, or a combination? How do we decide which is most appropriate for the context?

There’s often a dichotomy between how/what we want to report (and believe we should) and how managers and others expect us to report. How do we resolve the differences to everyone’s satisfaction — or at least acceptance?


I had no idea what I was going to talk about that would generate discussion, until I listened to Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. You know, the book about the 10 000 hour rule for excellence. Except that rule is chapter 2 — and that it. There is so much more to it, including the notion of Mitigated Speech. That to me was the most important part of the book. And I think fits (loosely) to the topic of TWST this year.

Let’s start with a definition (according to Gladwell) of mitigated speech.

Any attempt to downplay or sugarcoat the meaning of what is being said

How often do we see this when communicating our quality related information to stakeholders who are not going to like what they are going to hear.

In Outliers, Gladwell makes heavy use of the research contained in the paper Cultural Diversity and Crew Communication to analyze the communications of a well known plane crash.

So what are the levels of mitigation?

  • Command – This is all about Power Distance. How do you perceive and relate to your superiors? Your culture’s PDI has a lot to do with that.
  • Team Obligation Statement – Reduces the power distance in the relationship as it includes but the receiver and the sender in the action.
  • Team Suggestion – Equal power distance and implies full evolvement of both receiver and sender.
  • Query – A concession that the sender is not in charge, and is phrased as a question
  • Preference – Possible preferred actions presented in terms of I think or I feel
  • Hint – Are a reminder to some previous goal but don’t directly suggest the actual action the sender is hoping for. In fact could result in a different action.

Note that nowhere is there an indictment of any of these mitigation levels. The trick is to know what they are, when you are using which level — and whether it is appropriate at that particular context.

Posted on July 16, 2010 in Uncategorized by adamNo Comments »

I’m in a carb coma right now thanks to Melt, so going to indulge a bit of Seth Godin fanboy-ism by going through the 74 posts I haven’t looked at since my birthday and pick out the interesting bits. I’m sure there was other things of value in there, but these popped out. (Again, carb coma.)

I’ve talked about the 1000 fan thing before, The circles (no more strangers) has a fantastic chart to illustrate the stages to True Fans. And some ideas around it.

Multiple dumbnesses makes reference to Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Not sure how to use it, but its interesting.

Apparently Seth has a lot of voices in his head — which he has categorized in Is this noise inside my head bothering you?. These would make a good first batch of personas to test as.

And in Archetypes at work has another list that could be similarly used.

Play a new game, not the older game but faster. Kinda sum things up. (via A car is not merely a faster horse)

Posted on July 8, 2010 in Uncategorized by adam2 Comments »

The product development world has long been divided along ‘developer’ and ‘tester’ lines. Agile has show that the divide is not useful (in most cases), but that is secondary to the point of this post. Harry Petroski was on IT Conversations to promote his book The Essential Engineer and talked about another divide between scientists and engineers. The parallels are striking.

  • Scientists seek knowledge and/or understanding – Testers?
  • Engineers are looking to solve a problem — that is usually stated before hand – Developers?
  • Science and engineering are inexplicably linked – see Agile
  • One can drive the other – Feedback loops
  • An underlying problem is that scientists have better status than engineering – compare the salaries between developers and testers recently?
  • Engineering is more than just ‘applied science’ — things just aren’t that simple – testing is more than just ‘finding bugs’
  • Maintenance will inevitably cost more than initial development
Posted on July 4, 2010 in Uncategorized by adamNo Comments »

I was getting a drink for the train ride home when a giant cover of Seth Godin got my glance on the shelf. Seth is an interesting figure and the magazine was titled MOTIVATED (yes, in caps) so I picked it up. Here are the parts that testers will (or should) care about.

General Observations

  • The editor’s email address uses the magazine’s publisher’s domain, not the magazine’s. That, to me, is a breach of the consistency heuristic.
  • Definitely a Canadian magazine; will need to expand its advertising if it wants to survive I think
  • Ironically, there was nothing new in the Seth Godin interview which was word-wise one of the smaller articles in the issue — though it did succeed in getting me to buy it
  • The Naked Consulting article was eye-opening enough to more than make up for it

Watch Me! Audacity without Ego

  • Audacity creates businesses, and art, and world ranked athletes
  • Audacity is breathtakingly beautiful in her internal confidence; Ego seeks external recognition and often offensive.
  • It can be very lonely when we choose to be audacious excuse culturally we’ve thoughtlessly accepted the notion that we shouldn’t challenge the status quo, that there are certain ways of doing things that there’s an order that needs to be followed while on the journey toward success.

Life is a Rollercoaster, not a Rocking Chair

  • Miles Hilton-Barber is truly an amazing person. Attention conference organizers – this is the type of person you get for you’re keynote. Who cares if he doesn’t have experience with testing or development? He has worlds more experience in other things that analogies could be drawn to.
  • …are meaningful not because they’re record-setting “firsts”, but because I set another challenge for myself and I did it!
  • Only he who is willing to risk going too far will discover how far it is possible to go – T.S. Elliot
  • You an keep going long after you think you can’t
  • …the quality of our lives is often determined by circumstances, but b our response to them
  • Fulfillment is achieved by working toward dreams and focusing on the thing you can do, not the things you can’t
  • Louis Braille was blinded at the age of three, playing with a spike instrument. Many years later he invented the Braille alphabet, going back to millions of blind people the ability to read once again. Do you know what he used to make the raise dots on the paper? The very same spike instrument that blinded him!
  • The basic lie plan I often refer t is: Dream, Decide, Plan and Persevere

Boldly Conquer Your Speaking Fears

  • It takes commitment and practice to be a great speaker. But above all, it requires confidence, boldness and audacity.
  • Great speakers aren’t born; they evolve. They get better over time because they practice much more frequently and much harder than everybody else.
  • …in addition to practice, they carried a vision of themselves as outstanding communicators. Great speakers visualized themselves electrifying their audiences, even when they had very little experience in public speaking
  • It all started in her imagination and a crystal clear picture of what she wanted to accomplish. For many peopled, confidence does not come easily but if you see yourself succeeding long enough, soon you’ll believe it and you’ll radiate the boldness of a winner.
  • When you change the way you see yourself as a speaker, what you audience see will also change.

7 Steps to Taking Centre Stage

  • Passion – Passion makes you want to get up early and get to work. Passion gives you the energy to work harder and longer than anyone. But you also have to feed your fans’ passions
  • Knowledge – Keeping up with your industry and the world around you not only keeps your mind sharp but also gives you the ability to recognize trends and opportunities before anyone else.
  • Networking – Networking is about forming relationships and finding ways to work together on any number of projects.
  • Marketing – You should always have something to leave behind whether it’s a business card or some other item
  • Organization – I have a plan. I know what I’ going to say. I’ve done my research, searching facts and figured. I have contingency plans, extra batteries, and my presentation on flash cards as well as on the computer. Any my list goes on. When you have a plan and you’ve organized, I guarantee you’ll have more confidence at whatever it is you do.
  • Appreciation – No matter how big or small your organization is, never underestimate the importance and the power of saying thank you.
  • Fun – Remember to enjoy the ride

The Brand Within

  • A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer
  • Success in business, or in our personal lives, will always comes down to the connection we have with others
  • Some branding principles: differentiation, core values and purpose, knowing your consumer, production great products and providing superior customer service, consistently delivering on your promise
  • He’s not perfect, but no brand is
  • Building your own personal brand takes time
  • Nothing happens by chance
  • 5 steps to branding you: identify your core values, create a mission statement, know your customers, create a positive brand experience, be yourself
  • 5 ways to derail your brand: disconnect between you and how others perceive you, poor judgement in ethics or morals, inconsistency in behaviour, not aligned with organization values, strategy, or goals, competency and skill set

Let Your Light Outshine You Fear

  • Name your heart’s desire – Get clear with what you desire
  • Inner/outer alignment – Someone living in alignment emits a glow of authenticity, powerful upward movement, and innovation
  • Holy boldness – Driven by our mission, we walk over hot coals to do what we have to do
  • Courage in spite of fear
  • Commit to a crazy idea – Within those wild ideas will be the diamond of you next best step

The Merits of Naked Consulting

  • This was a reprint of an article that appeared in the February 2010 issue of Business Week
  • The essence of naked consulting is that clients are more interested in candor, humility, and transparency than they are in confidence, authority, and perfection. That’s not to say that competence is irrelevant; clients need to know that we have the knowledge and experience to help them. But once we’ve reached that level, the best way to differentiate ourselves from the competition—not to mention help a client implement our recommendations—is to be vulnerable with them.
  • Vulnerability is the opposite of, well, invulnerability. It’s about honesty and authenticity. And it’s about overcoming the understandable fears that cause us to say and do things that hurt our relationships with clients
  • What does being naked mean in practice? Naked consultants confront clients (kindly) with difficult information and perspectives, even if the client might not like what he or she hears. Naked consultants also admit their weaknesses and willingly acknowledge their mistakes. They ask potentially dumb questions and make potentially dumb suggestions, because if asking those questions or suggestions might help their clients, it is worth doing.
  • Even before landing a client, naked consultants will demonstrate vulnerability and take risks. They will give away their best ideas and start consulting to the prospective client during a sales call. In fact, they’ll do no real selling at all, foregoing that activity in order to find a way to help a potential client even if the business never actually become a real, paying one.
  • Three way to “consult naked” starting today:
    • Confront clients (kindly) with difficult information and perspectives, even if the client might not like hearing it
    • Admit your weaknesses and willingly acknowledge your mistakes.
    • Ask potentially dumb questions, and make potentially dub suggestions, because if asking those questions or suggestions might help your clients, then it is worth doing.