Views on Scrum meetings and research

Recently on SPaMcast we talked about my views on Scrum meetings.

the way I see Scrum like most documentation out there is to gather information fast, determine barriers and determine who can help remove them to keep things progressing. The should not be long or go into any extensive details.

Now before the meeting would be with just people in a co-located team. This would make it easy to get the information and work through the tasks. Now teams are spread around the world and it can still be done, it is information sharing.

Unfortunately most Scrum meetings that I have attended turn into story pointing, Story definition, discussing solutions or possible solutions. Doing this then takes a meeting that should be around 10 minutes long to be over an hour and usually nothing comes out of it,

The value of Scrum is to have the team on the same page and help each other out to get the work done. Once the team leaves that path and starts going down another it will start to waste others time and the value is then lost.

There has been some rumblings of getting rid of Scrum altogether and move on to something else. So far I haven’t heard of any viable solution. I think it is just needed to get back to the basics and run the meetings as they are intended. Then allow the team to get on the same page and work together, with the appropriate teammates, on any barriers that come up.

Now on to the second part of my blog. As some of you know, about 6 years ago I completed my MBA and had to do a major research project. I took the data from two previous research and created based on perception and knowledge between Testing and Business.

When I completed the paper my goal was to revisit it and conduct my own research on the matter and gather data to analyze. See when you take the data from two separate sources there is a bit of work to make the data connect and since they are coming from two separate groups it is difficult to see a correlation. With that, I have combined the questions, with some updates, so that the source would be consistent and would give a true interpretation of the results.

I would ask my readers to go to my Google forms and answer the survey. I am also added additional questions to follow up on a separate column that was done and dig deeper in what they provided as an outcome.

If you can share the link as well that would be great. I am promising everyone that participates they will get a copy of the report and the outcomes when completed.

I am looking for participants from all levels within an organization, from an analyst to C-suite. All views are important and would provide some great data that would be useful to a lot of organizations.

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Consistency and determination

As most of you know I am heavily involved in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. For the past 11 plus years I have been training and competing in the art. In one of my most recent posts I talked about how one week at a tournament opened my eyes to how I am personally and professionally.

This past weekend was the start of my next chapter in this art and it made me think more about previous conversations I had on SPaMCast about careers and how individuals should approach their careers. This weekend I got my Black Belt, which is my second one. I have a 3rd degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. The difference between the 2 is the TKD first degree took me under two years to get, which is about average for that art. The time and dedication for Jiu Jitsu made this weekend’s promotion so sweet.

Just like progressing in your career when you get the goal you have been aspiring to is such a great feeling. The time to learn something new, the learning from decisions along the way and some sacrifices you made to get to were you want to be makes it so rewarding.

When it happened a flood of emotions took over. I felt on top of the word. After the belt was put around my waist I addressed the other students and said they are lucky to be doing what they are doing. They are on a journey that has great rewards along the way, and that those rewards are what they make of them. Nobody else.

Much like a career, nobody but you have the say in what can or cannot be achieved. Keep pushing and striving to be the best at what you do. Do not compare yourself to others as that will get you no where.

Great things can happen when you work hard and remain consistent.

New beginnings

For about a year or so I have been thinking of going into the consulting world. For years now a lot of my colleagues have asked me why I wasn’t going down that path. They felt that I had enough experience and knowledge that I can be successful and make lasting improvements to a lot of organizations.

Over the past few weeks I have had a lot to think and prepare for. With the changes in my professional life, I was at a fork in the road and made the call.

See I am very happy when I get to help people solve problems and get them to be successful with what they are doing. I have had a lot of success with previous employers getting to the root of issues and working with a team to resolve it with a long standing solution that ensures the likely hood of it happening again was minimal. Previous CTO and SVP s have called me “Mr. Fix it” for how I have come into a situation, assessed it,and come up with a solution in a short period of time. I was no longer just the “QA Guy” I was leading changes in Development, Product Management, Project Management, SDLC and IT.

So in the past little while Berriault and Associates Consulting Group was formed. It has been a busy week reading, setting things up and getting prepared for what is about to come.

Aside from the new beginning some things will remain the same. I will continue with this blog and participate with my columns on SPaMCast.

Have a good week everyone.

Eye opening

Coming up on my contribution to SPaMcast we talk about my preparation for the World Masters Jiu Jitsu tournament and go into a discussion of how it relates to professional careers.

Last week was the tournament and I did compete. Unfortunately I did not have the outcome I wanted. Like 50% of the people who register for the tournament I lost in the first round. This year though was way different that previous as although I was in a good training camp and was prepared physically, my mental game was worked out more than any other year.

A few things have happened over the past few months and it all culminated the Thursday before I left for the tournament. I was impacted by a company takeover. Not the best news you would want to have on your mind while you are about to embark on the biggest competitive event of the year.

In previous years at this tournament my heart rate for the day I competed would be over 100 beats a minute for the entire day. Amazingly enough this year my heart rate was normal, around 75-85 beats per minute and I didn’t feel anxious. I was relatively in control of my mind and was in a good state.

Then came my fight. I would be a mess on the inside as I am about to step on the mat. The reason for that was in the past I was playing the “What If” game in my head, which you usually do, unfortunately for me I was trying to be a super computer and run through every conceivable scenario I could. This year I had my initial game plan and was confident I could readjust when needed. I was in a good state.

As the referee called us on to the mat I was focused, nothing was going to change the task at hand. As the match went it was all good. I never panicked, even when in danger I was able to get through and do what I wanted. Unfortunately at the level of competition I am at if there is one small mistake made the opposition will take advantage of it, and that is what happened. I was a bit off balance and the end was near. In the last 30 seconds of the fight, where I was winning on points, I was submitted. My day at the tournament was done.

Now in previous years I would be very upset, especially with all the work that I did to get there and with the added stress from being impacted. I wasn’t, I felt good. I could have gone off on people that said they would be there to help me and didn’t show up. I could have been miserable for the next few days there and just add to my stress. I didn’t my next focus was on two other teammates there that were competing later in the tournament.

I focused my energy on helping. One teammate was extremely nervous about competing on this stage. I kept my talks with her consistent and focused on what she needs to do. On the day of her competing I kept things simple and helped her focus at the task at hand. I coached her through her bracket she is now a World Champion. It was a great feeling for me to help her get that achievement. As time went on that day things started to change in how I saw myself and how I dealt this things in the world.

My next coaching duties was Tyler. There was a teen tournament going on at the same time and I had the opportunity to coach him as well. Unfortunately he did not have the outcome we desired. He met a very tough opponent and lost his first match. As a coach it is easy to talk to athletes that win, the challenge is when they don’t.I took him aside and let him know it is not a lost that it is a learning experience. We went through the match and found areas of improvement. He was hard on himself for the loss, I get it. With my clearer view of things I told him that it is only a loss, I have been to the World Championships 5 times, spend a lot of money, sacrificed a lot each year to get there and lost each time. It didn’t matter, we step on the mat and go to battle. It is a 50-50 shot you are going to win, this time he didn’t. There would be other tournaments.

After all the competition was done it was time to enjoy the Vegas night life. Before that I had conversations with other colleagues and it opened my eyes to how much I was setting up barriers for myself, not only in Jiu Jitsu, in life in general. I started to see that the obstacles that were in my way were of my own doing.

Over this year I have been reading a lot of books and two that really stuck out for me were:

The subtle are of not giving a f*ck and You Can’t Hurt Me.

After ready these two books I feel it started to shake the foundation of my obstacles. They were still there but now they were weakened. Last week destroyed most of them, I know there are others there, just hidden, and I know I will be blowing past them as well.

It is amazing how one week can completely turn around one’s outlook.

I am blessed with all that has happened and the support I have from family and friends.

I got this.

Focus

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has a great video on YouTube where he just says “focus”

It is odd to put this here in a blog on QA and Leadership, I know. I thought I would lighten the mood and put a smile on people’s face.

As you all know I tie my blog entries with my recordings on SPaMcast and the latest entry is on QA Focus. (Here is the recording and the page for a lot of other wonderful interviews http://spamcast.libsyn.com/spamcast-558-story-points-leave-them-qa-focus-discussions-and-essays )

As in the discussion we talked about focusing efforts with conducting testing and how far is too far.

For me that is a pretty vague question because it is open for interpretation. Overall it is generally based on the acceptable risk of the organization. Even that can get a little fuzzy.

It is all about the culture the organization has in how it treats it’s products and clients. There was a great analogy used in Explore It!: Reduce Risk and Increase Confidence with Exploratory Testing by Elisabeth Hendrickson  . To paraphrase, testing is like a fish net, depending on how little the mesh is will determine how much you catch.

To focus to hard on an application or component to the point where the mesh is extremely small will take a lot of effort to just get through one cycle. While on the other hand you can have a big mesh and only get the big ones. Now depending on the application being testing you may have no choice to use the tight mesh. There could be potentially lives at risk if something were to sneak through.

This is where the culture comes in as well as good leadership in providing ways to move that net faster while still getting the same results. Through the use of purchasing tools to use, providing a collaborative environment where team members across all disciplines can work together to solve problems and in general be supportive.

Testers and Test Engineers

https://spamcast.libsyn.com/spamcast-550-conways-law-and-process-improvement-test-engineers-and-testers-essays-and-discussions

In my recent post with SPaMCAST we talked about Testers and Test Engineers.

Most view the two very differently to the point where Testers are called “Manual Testers”. To me that is a load of crock. Whether you are dynamically testing through the use of a keyboard or through the use of a script it is testing none the less. They are two completely different skill sets that need to flourish for an organization to be successful.

For the non Test Engineers, they play a very pivotal role as they are normally the first ones on the scene to see what is being done. Yes, the Test engineers see it quickly as well (if the development shop is set up correctly), yet it is the testers who use a lot of that initial brain power to understand what is going on. They also normally have key insight on the application and could see issues a lot sooner then others.

That is not to say the Test Engineers could do the same thing. On the contrary they have a little say as well on how things could go. As they are, sometimes, more technical they would see things from a different perspective. Maybe from and architecture perspective. There could be a new workflow that is about to be introduced that will cause performance issues. Maybe there is something already in place that will cover what is needed and they know the path to get there.

From a title perspective I get it, it is needed for recruitment. People need titles to figure out where they are. A few years ago I got into a heated discussion about titles and Agile. He was a generalist, and he saw that everyone can switch roles within a team if need be. To me, at the time, was insane. See I was coming from mostly waterfall shops. Yes they did start going agile, and I had my understandings of it just not to that level.

Now I feel there should be a merge. Why limit individuals on what they can and cannot due? I have seen Test Engineers from different backgrounds, one even from a finance workstream. Things can be taught and learned. It is time for other organizations to recognize that and get on board. There is a lot of value in it.

Half way through the year and so much more to do

This year seems to be flying by and I haven’t gotten back on track with my book. Like a previous post it is hard to get that initiative going.

Work was probably the biggest blocker over the past six months. In technology change is inevitable and if you are unable to handle it things can go sideways fast.

One of the good things that happened was I revamped an SDLC and provided additional help for Product Development. I did a lot of research by articles, books and YouTube. Speaking of YouTube I would like to get back to normal use and see dogs do silly things.

Some of the great reads I had were:

Sprint: Solve big problems and test new ideas in just 5 days by Jake Knapp

User Stories Applied by Mike Cohn

Agile at work by Douglas rose

Still going through more books to help gain even more knowledge to help organizations succeed.

There were countless YouTube videos that were hit or miss. The joys of the internet. There was one video that hit me hard with moving in a direction to create a more innovative environment:

This talk turned on a light bulb and brought things that I was working on into a new light. Things started to click and fall into place.

Next week I will be finally taking some well deserved time off and will spend time on my book. So I will be dusting off my outline, what was written before and more than likely making changes with what I know now.. Looking forward to it.