Posted on September 28, 2010 in Uncategorized by adam1 Comment »

I’ve mentioned before that the best keynote I have heard was an Apollo astronaut who talked about being in space and not about building a CLEC. Since then I have been very aware of what I believe a good keynote is as compared to a good track talk.

In general, a keynote talk should be entertaining and informative. And if it is controversial so much the better. But the informative part should be on a cleanly defined message. Using story as a medium, the listener should be able to remember the main point without having to take any (or very few) notes. That is a good heuristic for keynote talks; look around at people’s notes. If there are lots, then it is trying to pack too much or the point wasn’t defined well enough.

I’ve not done an ‘official’ keynote [yet] but I would say that speaking at TASSQ counts as meal audiences have the same audience elements. The slides and notes from that are here. The point of the talk was that ‘testers notice suff’ and in hindsight I should have stressed that a little earlier as the talk is full of lots of little stories with lessons learned resulting in lots of notes. But [I think] it is an entertaining talk and that makes up for it. And its not a boring drone of numbers and facts.

Boring drones of numbers and facts do have place at conferences though. And that is in track talks. Okay, maybe not boring drones, but the need for entertainment is a lot less in the track talks. Lots of detailed information and in depth analysis of problems and their eventual solutions (or invitation of solutions) should be done where the audience knows exactly what they are asking for.

I’m writing this in a plane 38000 feet halfway between Toronto and Denver on my way to Star West where I think there is going to be 5 sessions billed as ‘keynote’. If past conferences (in general, not just Star) is any indicator, I would guess that one, maybe two will meet my criteria as a keynote. The rest will be track talks delivered in front of a captive audience by people who have ‘paid their dues’ on the speaker circuit.

Posted on September 8, 2010 in Uncategorized by adam3 Comments »

CNN had an articles on teens being ‘fake’ Christians recently. Religiousness aside, one paragraph describes the four traits of what they label a ‘committed’ Christian.

  • They have a personal story about God they can share
  • A deep connection to a faith community
  • A sense of purpose
  • A sense of hope about their future

In the quality world, I would say there is a split between the ‘fake’ testers and the ‘committed’ ones. You can spot the fake ones easily as they are the ones at the elevator precisely at 5; whereas the committed ones are writing and exploring the craft. It is pretty easy to swap Quality for God and faith for testing in the above list and have something useful in a new context.

The article also blames the apathy of teens on their parents. But in the office we don’t have our parents to guide us; just management. Yes, you and only you are responsible for your career, but management is an enabler of that. So if you are in management, are you helping your flock, or hindering it?

Posted on September 7, 2010 in Uncategorized by adam2 Comments »

It is a long tradition in the software world to ‘borrow’ things from Japan and apply them in North America. Lean? Kanban? Shu Ha Ri? All come from the other side of the Pacific. And in most cases I would say the ‘experts’ espousing them don’t really have the right to. Sure, they know the ‘concept’ and the ‘actions’ but do they really, really understand the cultural underpinnings that lead to them?

So along these lines, I’m going to start stealing from the Japanese. Here are my credentials…

  • I did Karate for eight weeks
  • My friends in highschool were ninjas
  • I did Kendo for a year
  • I have seen hundreds (and hundreds) of hours of Anime
  • My son now takes Karate so I’m hanging out at a dojo again (if only in the lobby)

Infinitely qualified, see?

First, I think we should steal the Tea Ceremony for its ceremony and presentation. Specifically designed rooms, lots of steps in specific order, repeatability and lots of history make it a fantastic specimen.



The Factory School already got to it.

Next then let’s steal Anime, or more specifically its Tropes. But let’s steal in a sensible way. Rather than apply things directly, each of these should be considered heuristic. And some of these are almost designed to baffle management. Imagine seeing ‘Quivering Eyes’ or ‘Snot Bubble’ or ‘Idiot Crows’ in a status update on the techniques used on a project. Priceless!

When I first thought of this post, I’m sure I had something on Japanese Gardens but can’t remember what, so that is left to the reader.

The final thing to steal is the notion of Shinbutsu shugo which is the syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism. In a testing context, there is Agile, Context-Driven, ATDD/BDD and Artistic camps. Each has its own priests and followers which get involved in religious debates. But the reconciliation and idea sharing is important regardless of religious differences. And now we can give a Japanese name for it.

And if we’re really good, we’ll mispronounce it.