Ask Me Anything: Communities of Practice

:clap:I like the way how you explain about the tester mindset


We haven’t tried that out. Partly because many of the testers (and managers) around are very resistant to change. It is also partly because we are made to use detailed scripts, and exploratory testing isn’t accepted as a means to perform testing.

I did get them to try Pairing and Mobbing however. The testers weren’t keen on pairing, as they sadly saw it as two people doing the work of one. Whereas for mobbing, that went down really well with the Agile CoP, as it encourages the whole team to work together.

If you do try it out with your CoP, please do share the results here.

Hopefully that answers your question, but feel free to reply and seek clarification if not :slight_smile:

I am skipping question 18, as @heather_reid has answered that already in the chat, and shared her response within the post here too.

One thing I mentioned during the AMA was what I see as the difference between a CoP, and a Meetup, and how a CoP focuses inwards towards a single company, whereas a Meetup is outwards and encourages all testers (or whatever the Meetup is about) to attend. However, they both work in the same way, bringing practitioners of the same thing together, allowing knowledge and experiences to be shared, and help people know they aren’t alone.

For your question, a tester focused Meetup which gets testers from different industries together is a good idea. In fact, in Leigh Rathbone’s recent talk he has been touring, he encourages testers to get in contact with those working in computer games and gambling, as they are often ahead of the curve with how things are done.

Testers might think, I work with backend databases, why do I care how to test a website? But each could offer ideas to the other, that they hadn’t realised. Maybe the backend tester can point out how if the input is larger than the column allows, they expect an error, whereas the web testers might question what happens when it tries to query and finds no data in the database?

Regardless of the industry, we are testers, and can help and learn from one another.

Hopefully that answers your question, but feel free to reply and seek clarification if not :slight_smile:

This relates back to the third post on here, where I encourage understanding the WHY behind being setup in the first place. I also advise watching the AMA back, where one suggestion I give is to get them to think of what makes a good CoP, to list all the things that would make it bad - Talking over each other, irregular dates/times, so notes, no support, etc. From there, the community can agree what can be done to make sure those things don’t happen.

When inviting people initially, there are two thoughts I have on this.

  1. You invite everyone who will be your core membership, so testers for a Test CoP, for example. See how many of them turn up, and go from there. Everyone is made to feel welcome and invited, and even if not everyone attends, they can’t say they weren’t offered the chance.
  2. You find out who are the passionate people that want to get involved from the start, and only invite them. There is a risk it seems like you’re building a closed group and a clique, but you will feed of each other’s passion, and get a strong foundation, which means once more people get involved there is a stronger idea of where it will go.

There are great ideas in Emily Webber’s book, which is linked in the resources at the top, and was what we used to go through it all, and I will recommend it every time to anyone who wants to start a CoP.

Hopefully that answers your question, but feel free to reply and seek clarification if not :slight_smile:

I would say that a Guild from the Spotify model is the closest to a CoP.

The main thing I would also say is that unless a company is seeking to emulate the Spotify model (and if they are, remember to ask WHY, as the only company like Spotify is Spotify), to not get too focused on the different types of structure, and focus on what they’re wanting to do.

If they call themselves a Guild, but do all the things that a CoP does, does the name matter? But if they veer off from what a CoP is, so it isn’t optional, isn’t about learning and collaboration but dictating how things must be done, then it becomes a different beast.

After the AMA, I see guilds and CoPs as being quite distinct entities. The way I understand it (if understand is the right word - maybe “imagine” would be better), a CoP is people who are from departments directly related to the subject, whereas Guilds are anyone who is interested. The latter is certainly the way we run them, and it has proven useful. Like you’ve said previously though, it’s a very informal sort of thing, so it’s whatever works for you.