Cross-team Pair Testing: Lessons of a Testing Traveler
By Elisabeth Hocke @lisihocke
Lisi Hocke took a fabulous Testing Tour last year. She shared all her experiences on her blog (bit.ly/testing-tour) and she is now taking the stage to talk about her lesson and journey. Lisi starts off with her story: why she wanted to take up the challenge she did.
She asked the audience questions:
“have you ever asked yourself: all the knowledge you get, how do you really apply it in your own space?” “Have you ever asked yourself: am I good enough?”
Lisi had and asked herself where she stood in comparison to other testers. Was she a good tester? She set herself the challenge to become a Better Skilled Tester.
“I believe that pairing and mobbing with fellow testers from the community on hands-on exploratory testing and automation will result in continuously increasing skills and knowledge as well as serendipitous learning. I’ll know I have succeeded when I noted down at least one concrete new insight or applied one new technique per testing session and shared that with the community.”
For Lisi: when she was learning solo she found herself get sidetracked, distracted and harder to keep her motivation up. So, when she met Toyer at Agile Testing Days and they became learning partners to tackle their public speaking challenge, she really explored the benefits of learning together.
Becoming a Testing Traveler
Lisa Crispin – the co-author of Agile Testing together with Janet Gregory – was a huge influence on Lisi. Similarily, Sallyann Freudenberg went on coding tour herself and blogged about it. Sallyann’s tour was an immense inspiration for Lisi’s own tour. Maaret Pyhäjärvi was another great influence as she offers pair testing session to people and was the first one on the tour. Lisi attended a workshop on Mob Testing led by Maaret which was the first time Lisi tested together with other testers (being the only tester in her company at the time).
Lisi’s Testing Tour:
25 stops. 22 people. 10 months
Ultimately: it’s not about figures: it is about the people
#1: Maaret Pyhäjärvi: doing a pairing session: take notes together so that it is very visible what is happening in both of your minds and where you are in the session together.
#10: Alex Schladebeck: they wanted to explore together. At European Testing Conference, Alex was livetesting on stage. She was talking about testing while testing on a meta level. While they were pairing, a similar thing happened: they shared: what makes you test and what makes you take the next step.
#16: Thomas Rinke. Alan Richardson had just released a new testing app and he reached out afterwards as he could explain a lot of the things they had seen. They had the chance to discuss expected behavior with him and realized how powerful such communication with developers is.
Having a learning partner who keeps her accountable really works for Lisi. Learning is hard and learning alone that much harder. Together, it was easier: both to have the motivation to keep going and to bounce ideas off each other.
Implicit learning becomes vocalized and talked about. Lisi states: ‘having a pair: really makes you think”. As much as co-location is handy, it is often used as an excuse. Remote pairing works really well.
Think about what is YOUR challenge and what works for you. How long should your tour be? How long should your sessions be? At some point, Lisi found that she had to block her calendar to keep it manageable.
Tools like: Trello & Calendy helped her a lot. Calendy allowed people to book session with her in her calender. Zoom helped for sharing a screens and computers during the remote sessions.
Communication is essential during Testing Tour sessions. Lisi emphasizes: “prepare each session, just enough”. Focus on what you are going to do together. Have your environments set up. During the session: focus on how the pairing is going and adapt if need be. Do a retrospective together: it was these elements where Lisi learned most about collaboration. She mostly used strong style pairing during her sessions. This means that the person who has the idea hands over the keyboard to the other, so ideas need to be vocalized and spoken aloud to the other before reaching the keyboard. This is a collaboration approach that really helps communication and learning.
At the end of the session, Lisi always discussed with her pairing partner what elements of the session were confidential as she always posted a blog about her pairing experiences. Sharing helps everyone learn.
If you feel stuck or if you want to grow and learn: set out on your journey and join others. And please: “share your journey with us!”
read more about Lisi’s Testing Tour: https://www.lisihocke.com/p/testing-tour.html