Today is the 3rd day of the EuroSTAR 2019 Software Testing Conference. A day of talks and some short workshops.
The opening of the day is a keynote by Fiona Charles in which she shares some concerns concerning developments in software. The list is too long to list here, but some examples are AI algorithms getting things wrong in their assessments (due to a bias in historical data used for data learning), consequences of feeding into the addiction of convenience by technologies such as Airbnb (housing shortages) or Uber (traffic congestions), Data”breaches” (Google buying health data in the UK), returned clothes that are thrown away by the online retailer instead of brought into a supply chain because that is cheaper (resulting in millions of tonnes of waste).
Technologies can also bring good, so what to do? She suggests ‘Always wonder: what could possibly go wrong?’. Question whether we should build this (my interpretation of this is to always stick to your ethics). Look for possible biases. Acknowledge the technologies’ limitations as data is not knowledge, do human-centric computing and build security in the small things that make up the fabric of society.
I then did the crash course ‘Storytelling for Testers’ guided by René Tuinhout. A wonderfully refreshing workshop sharing and practicing some of the basics of storytelling. Besides a good structure, not missing the essential ingredients, we discovered some other elements – for example, the use of the voice, the speed at which you talk – that could make your story compelling. I think this skill could be of use for testers!
The following keynote was reserved for three upcoming keynote speakers. They did a good job. In short. Adonis Celestine tried to pinpoint the x-factor behind successes like Airbnb and Amazon on user experience. That user experience can be managed. That creating a perception of security by knowing and ease of use entices. Enticement also via hyper-personalization. Shelley Lambert lifted a piece of veil about her work at IBM and introduced scaffolding. Scaffolding here represents the temporal structure that enables us to build that thing. She indicated what and what not to do with scaffolding. An important statement for me was ‘Fail together, succeed together’. Ryan Volker expressed his opinion on what he expects from testers when dealing with the customer.
Next was a talk by Adam Matlacz titled ‘Leadership: From Monolith to Pebbles’. He described the context – agile developed software that must also undergo a formal V-model shaped verification and validation – within which a problem occurred that caused deadlines not being met. He then proceeded to explain how they tackled this problem. He divided all actions under ‘Build culture’, ‘Bring people’ and ‘Build architecture’. Examples of culture are the nurturing of Courage, Empowerment, Sharing Knowledge, Trust and Transparency. People were to match the culture, have a varied background and complementary skillset. Some things related to architecture are for example to enable people over processes and to involve everyone. There was more to this story, and it was interesting to see all points come together in a coherent setting in his story from real life.
Onwards to the following talk by Jantien van der Meer titled ‘All Good Intentions Fly out of the Window’. She described a well working, productive, happy team on track that changed after some external occurrences. No longer happy, no longer doing agreed upon activities, becoming soloist, etcetera. She tried to explain this transformation of the team and got to relate this to a primal instinct we humans still have when threats occur. This instinct triggers a Fight, Flee, Freeze or Focus mode. When she shared this insight with the team, at first nothing happened. But, fortunately a seed was planted and slowly the team managed to return to a well-working team.
The last keynote of the day was by Alexandre Bauduin who thoroughly illustrated the complexity of (testing) flight simulators and how he managed to partly automate those tests. On towards another day tomorrow where I hope to gain more worthwhile stuff to share with my colleagues!