Inspiring meetup, but with -1

Test Practitioners Club is a Testing Meetup based mostly in National Capital Region , India. We have been in existence since January 2014, that’s when we hosted our first meetup.

We started with 8 subscribers to the thought and all of them attended.

And I was the only woman and I was a bit disappointed at this but not disheartened. I was determined to change this and I knew how to. Little did I know back then, that I am not thinking right.

We now have 943 members on the meetup group alone (excluding FB page followers)and at our latest meetup we had over 40 members join us. We try to do the meetup as frequently as possible. We would love to do it once a month but we are unable to. Regular members of the meetup are now stepping up to take more initiatives and sometimes they host the event at their venue, and find speakers too. That kind of leadership helps a lot to continue organizing the meetup.

Test Practitioners Club April 2018 meetup was held at Oracle office thanks to Manoj Jain, the Director (Software Development). Among the speakers were a few regular attendees and core team members (Gaurav Bansal (Snapdeal) / Nitin Mukhija (PayUMoney) / Omkar (Naukri), some from Oracle –  Amit Vashishtha and one surprise speaker – Siddharth Taneja (Make My Trip).

 

Siddharth Taneja came out to be a very special story. He is braving Cerebral Palsy .

He works as a FTE at MakeMyTrip and he is not just surviving there on compassionate grounds but is winning as one of the best performers in his team. A glimpse of his story can be seen at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P600zzicDZc

 

He set us thinking that there can be no limitation too big to learn, if there is a strong will and desire to learn. When asked what he wanted to do – he said “I want to make a dent on the world“. He wants to be someone who is taken note of when he leaves.

With the overwhelming execution of the current meetup in April 2018 – we feel very successful in being able to mobilise the testers to a point where community learning is being enjoyed and looked forward to. We have consistently had over 40 members attendance and atleast 35-40% women testers participating as attendees.

But there is one aspect that has made us feel a bit like failure. Infact, not just a bit, but more like a big embarrassing failure.  Personally, being someone who has participated in different capacities in so many initiatives for including more women in technology and being a very known enthusiast for leading such initiatives, it feels like a big MINUS ONE when I am unable to bring women speakers to our meetup.

It gets even more disturbing to me when we are seeking women speakers from the best of the organizations in the region and we don’t get even ONE submission or interest from them. Occasionally we have had women speakers from “Srijan Technologies” thanks to our evangelist Anil Chandana there. But that’s about it.

Not sure where we are going wrong. I am going to continue tryng to fix it going forward. Our next meetup is in May 2018. And we are going to organize meetups as frequently as possible – hopefully once a month.

If any tester is interested in speaking at the meetup , please email me directly at smita.mishra@qazone.in or reach out to us at our Meetup page or Facebook Page.

My humble appeal – If you are a women tester or technology enthusiast, and wish to speak or know of some such women technocrats – please reach out to us. We will also support them in getting mentored on how to present if they have never done Public Speaking before. Point to note here – This doesn’t stop men from reaching out to us to get the same support.

Looking forward to having women speakers at our meet-ups.

Context Driven Testing spreading its wings

Recently, I happened to attend another test meetup in the region. To my pleasant surprise, it was very well organized by Gaurav Bansal of Xebia.

I spoke about the relevance and importance of understanding business and more importantly setting up the business context when performing testing. Further in the talk , I also bought up strategies for inculcating the trend and sustaining this business knowledge in the test teams and ways to ensure it keeps growing with new work , new testers coming in. Difference between business knowledge and business context. It was very well received and thoroughly participated by the testers attending it. It seemed they enjoyed questioning and understanding, as much as I was enjoying, listening to their perspectives, challenges, issues and answering them with my thoughts.

3rd meetup -1  3rd meetup -3

 

I had started with the statement – Testing is a cost for business and in itself adds no value. This sentence was debated by the testers in audience for good 10 minutes or more until we settled on it in the context of our discussion. Which also told me the kind of thought processes the testers were bringing in. I heard all sorts of terms – ROI, Quality, Value add, etc – coming to “Testing’s” defense. Some of the testers did seem to be very aggressively defending but it was fun.

Post my session – Gaurav and Rajneesh from Xebia gave sessions on Behavior driven testing and Exploratory testing. I could hear lot of resonance of thoughts from the likes of James Bach, Elizabeth Hendrickson and Michael Bolton. Both sessions were very interesting and informative. Attendees were loving these sessions. Brilliant job – Gaurav and Rajneesh!!

Rajneesh @3rd meetup

There was a surprise item of Lightening talks were the speakers could write their names and their talks on a whiteboard and speak to them for 5 minutes with or without presentations. There was a host of exciting topics and the speakers spoke to the topics with utter sincerity and thorough research and with lot of experience sharing examples.

Lightening Talks

 

I was proudly watching my fellow testers speak and learn through the enthusiastic cross debates amongst the attendees themselves, and with the speakers too. I had so much fun learning.

3rd meetup -2

As I was enjoying all the action &  looking around – I couldnt help but notice pretty faces sitting all over and it was such a pleasure to see such a huge turnout of women testers. I remembered those 4 girls at my earlier meetup. And then this one had so many more and all participated. It was a through treat to my heart and mind both.

Last meet up we did and then this meetup – number of women attendees increased manifold.

Women at 2nd meetup       Women in Testing- 3rd meetup

Thanks to Gaurav from Xebia and Kapil Saxena from Magic software to get so many team members from their teams to participate in the meetup.

All_Xebians

 

One thing that was noticeable was – James Bach was thoroughly loved and followed there. Everyone at the meetup knew James and mostly just him from the testing community. Mere mention of James, made folks standing nearby join our conversations. I hope James you read this blog.

This time I had a particular point on my agenda – to know what our testers thought about certification. So I mentioned that on the whiteboard and spoke on it as a lightening talk. To my surprise – everyone was looking forward to the talk that I hadnt even prepared for.

The moment I said – what do you think about certifications in Testing – the testers who had contained this thought with them for a long time now, suddenly burst with questions like  –

– What are the best certification in testing

– What are the most popular ones

– Will I get a better job if i do a certain certification

– if not ISTQB then what?

At this point I was tempted to tear apart the myths and tell these naive souls how they were getting caught in the populist theory. But I realized they were not to blame. Almost all of the attending testers said their organization gives preferences to ISTQB certification for promotions or hiring. As I tried to understand – what did they gain out of this certification – they clearly said –  does it matter?  I know i will get the job if i am certified so I will do it anyways. Plus we get a “common language” that we can speak across as testers. Standardized meaning of testing. One such tester also said – Exploratory testing was Monkey testing – only to realize later that he was absolutely wrong and the place he learnt that definition, actually taught him incorrect definitions thus resulting in “non- standardized language”. They really didnt know why would they even do this certification.

Okay – all those who are taking time to read this blog need to observe something – the speakers and topics were more than a hundred percent “context driven” in their souls and approach. But attendees clearly showed the lack of it. They were here to learn and they did learn but there will be so much unlearning to do before we learn right testing.

When I spoke to them – I mentioned that they shouldn’t focus on certification a whole lot. They should be keen on learning testing and that they should go for BBST.  And oh boy – who knew BBST there ? 2 of the lot. Only 2 had heard about it. Thats all.

But the bigger worry was – the way I looked at them – I felt they werent prepared for larger doses right now. I asked them to not bother about certification or even BBST but first go to http://www.satisfice.com and learn some testing. Then we can talk more about BBST. One of the attendees who knew BBST said – there wasnt enough information about it. Most of the attendees said – we can do BBST and would love to (after I could explain them somewhat , what BBST is) but our managements dont support them . The managements want all testers to be ISTQB certified.

As a tester who practices Context Driven testing, I have to admit that I was pleased to see what the speakers wanted to talk about and teach the crowd. But the level of ignorance testers had, about ways to learn testing was not encouraging one bit.

I am calling all CD testers to do better story telling, making ourselves more heard. We need to not only influence testers but also the managements to understand right testing.

For the benefit of those, who asked at the meetup – Will be publishing shortly what BBST means, in James Bach’ s own words. Meanwhile – go through http://www.satisfice.com.