MEWT 5, my day

So at the weekend, it was MEWT, a peer workshop for exploratory testers. There was a handful of us from across the UK. the topic for this, the 5th MEWT was, “What is professional testing”. I felt ill-equipped to attempt defining such a contentious thing, so I did a brief talk on my professional growth from definitely not a professional tester towards something that could better be described as containing professional elements My talk can be found here.

This was my first time talking to a group of peers, my first workshop, and conference, (although Mewt isn’t really a conference :)) I was incredibly nervous about giving my talk, especially as the day went on and there were so many very good talks, by some very knowledgeable people.  We got to my talk towards the end of the day, and by all accounts, it was enjoyed Dan Billing kindly tweeted

DanBtweetPassion  Although  at the time the only thing I felt I was an exemplar of was nerves.  The questions were straight forwards and simple to answer, mainly focused around how I got the momentum to make changes in my workplace and the responsibility to do so.

BillMresponsibility I described it, possibly rather glibbly as “stealing” the responsibility, I did this because I was never handed the responsibility to coach my colleagues or push the company to do better at testing, or even define and overall IT test strategy. I just did it, someone had to.

So more than enough about what I did, and on to the day at large.

The venue, at Attenbourgh Nature Reserve, is an excellent location, the room is lovely, well equipped and has a beautiful view, and small balcony for eating lunch on. Well chosen, heartily recommend staying there for as long as possible.

The other attendees are a great bunch of people and it was fantastic to meet them all, there is such a variety of experiences and personalities there, an education in itself.

mewt5 attendees Dan C is the tallest tester I have met, which I’m sure he’ll be pleased about.

Dan C is the tallest tester I have met, which I’m sure he’ll be pleased about.

The talks were very interesting, from the start of the day right through to the end, the high point for me was the meta, “what is, What is professional testing” A talk by James Thomas that I’ll long remember and aspire to be anywhere near as good as, his talk and write-up can be found on his blog  we worth reading.

The direction of the day was largely driven by the differential of professional work over notions of a Profession, and testing over testers. I think it’s right to say that as a group we were far more interested in seeing a good job done by someone, rather a person specifically based in a Profession doing a job, good or bad. I wonder if our predisposition to seeing all the ways something could go, bad and good, hinders our ability to move something forwards, we spoke at great lengths about how a Professional body could be a bad thing, could go wrong, might not live up to the needs of the industry that I doubt as a group we would ever be happy that we had understood the ramifications of instituting a Professional body, and that we had mitigated all the potential pitfalls to a sufficient degree that we would ever get around to starting a Professional body, That and I think we are a contrary bunch that don’t really like being told what we can and can’t do. I do strongly believe that is why we strive to do a good job though. we answer to ourselves, and it’s hard to lie to yourself about how happy you are with the quality of your own work.

So what were my learning from the day, simply put professional work is describable in a general and non-specific sense to a degree that allows a conversation about basic principles, high quality, integrity, honesty, customer focused, etc. However, it must have a context within which its being described if you wish detail, as that context can change whether a behaviour or action is professional, or unprofessional. And that context is poorly described, we all work in a wide variety of differing environments, that constitute differing standards, expectations, drives, and restrictions, to highlight just a few of the environmental constituents. There is a high degree of tacit knowledge about our own environments that would take many workshops such as MEWT to tease out, and the value of such an undertaking is, in my opinion, low at best. So where does that leave us in our understanding of the question asked, “What is professional testing?” we can quickly point out what it isn’t. We have a framework of driving values that we broadly agree are required, they have little to do with testing, and a lot to do with conduct, but why should we expect anything different. professionalism is mostly framed in behaviours that are to do with the conduct of the person towards colleagues, employers, peers and their fellows, and rarely to do with a specific set of technical skills that are used within that profession, so you can work within a profession, and you can be a Professional. Professions in a formal sense are not something we are seeking, yet professional testing is.

By that, we mean the technical work of testing, as to be defined somewhere else, done in a way that has the characteristics of professional behaviour. As defined as conscientious, honest, integrity driven, work towards the end of getting the project completed for the customer, regardless of any sort of title, role boundary, or other arbitrary delineation of task ownership, ie if it needs doing, and you can do it to the quality required (yes quality required is a deep question in its own right. In this sense, I mean to a level that adds value to the overall project objectives with a skill commensurate to doing a “good Job” and not detrimental, to timelines, quality ,other people or the overall project), get on and do it.

I will probably come back to this question and see if I can simplify my reasoning, make the steps easier to follow once I have internalised it further and read around it some more.

Did I enjoy MEWT 5, I most certainly did, I would love the opportunity to attend more peer workshop, and would strongly recommend that should the chance be presented take it with both hands.

 

Feedback question and challenges most welcome.

Doug

Mewt 5 is coming, tomorrow!

So tomorrow is MEWT 5, and I’m attending!

I’m very excited about the opportunity even if I’m some apprehensive about the whole standing up and talking bit. I hope that I can contribute to the conversations, I’m sure I will learn plenty as well.

 

Looking forward to meeting some more testers, and learning from their experiences, especially if any of them has done project of a similar scale to the one I’m currently involved in.

I will post up about my experiences at MEWT what I’ve learnt, how I found it, for now though I’m just very excited about the workshop.