“Simon and Heather, you’ll own the goal for weekly events to get the community talking more around a range of topics”. Richard smiled and I smiled back on this cold December morning. 2022 would definitely heat up with such a goal!
For a while, in my role as CommunityBoss, I’ve felt a desire to get closer to easily accessible events – such things that are simple to spin up that create lasting connections and opportunities for the community to meet and learn from each other in interesting ways.
Over a few idea exploration sessions, we came up with a tonne of small event ideas that might help us achieve the goal.
We devised an Event One-Pager and set to work creating several. Heather and I settled on two experiments for January. We added them to an internal document called the WEEM. The Weekly Events Experiments Menu was born!
- Ministry of Testing Twitter Spaces : Heather and Simon spend approximately 4 weeks creating at least 8 Twitter Spaces on whatever topics they spot are worth a conversation. Open to all. A Twitter Space is an audio-only event hosted on Twitter.
- Thursday Testing Tea : Heather and Simon co-facilitate up to four Thursday Testing Tea’s, three weeks apart. Open to all. A Lean Coffee session for a small group of people to discuss any topic related to testing.
TIP: Keep an eye on the events page as we add weekly events at short notice. For example, we’ve set ourselves a goal to schedule and run a Twitter Space only ever within a 24 hour period.
We’ve learnt that a Twitter Space feels like listening to a radio station. Feedback suggests you can just have it on in the background and still feel connected to the conversation. And we’ve had plenty of people feel confident to come up on stage to share their thoughts too. Which we’re super grateful for.
We ran six spaces in January. And have seen listeners come back for more than one. Around 200 people have listened in at some point with 26 of those speaking. While it’s not about the numbers, it’s a good indicator. Heather and I have listened to excellent discussions on topics related to what makes a good tester, automating everything, hiring/onboarding, real-world heuristics and how to influence a team to use a tool.
There are opportunities to mix up the format and we’ll soon experiment with Ask Me Anything style chats and explore co-hosting with community members on topics that are important to them. Thank you to Hilary Weaver-Robb for co-hosting with me already! If you want to co-host and/or be available for an AMA, send me a message or reply to this thread.
With a potentially far-reaching platform like Twitter Spaces, it’s hard to know what positive impact it has on the community. Right now we’re placing a bet it does in some way help at least one person to reflect on their current context and explore important topics. We’re yet to hear of any official connections between members. “Who are you now connected to that you will continue to chat with?" We know it’s not as simple as that. Connections take time. And it’s not only about hanging out during an event. Community goes deeper.
We only ran one Thursday Testing Tea in January – the second cancelled due to sickness – so it’s early days. 60 minutes to rapidly discuss a whole heap of topics goes fast and I feel sorry that we didn’t get a chance to go through them all. Only 3 topics out of 13!
Again, I don’t think it’s about the numbers. Instead, all 6 participants got to speak and listen to each other with varying and agreeable views. It was just nice for folks to see each other and chat, for those who reconnected and those who had never met each other. The benefits are hard to measure immediately though. We’ll run more in February now that our platform (a Butter Room) is easy to recreate.
For any future event, I’m keen to experiment with group note-taking. Watching or listening back to a recording or revisiting a transcript is good. Yet I think there’s a different type of value in seeing how people interpret information as it unfolds, and to see how their attendee colleagues do so as well.
Experiments 1 and 2 are still in play and we look forward to learning more from them.
We’ve also got an eye on what to run next. As it stands we’ll set up the following experiments in February/March:
- Welcome to the Ministry of Testing Community : An interactive introduction to the Ministry of Testing community and an opportunity for new community members to get to meet new community members, as well as at least one person who has been part of the community for some time. We can learn much from people new to the community, and potentially new to their career in software testing.
- Note Takers : A joint note-taking session that revisits existing content on the MoT Platform, for Pro Members only. Simon hosts a session on exploratory testing.
Feel free to reply to this post and let me know what you think of all this. I’d love to hear from you!