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.


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 )

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

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.

When Frameworks fail

Frameworks are like ice cream flavours. In general there is a base set, but it branches out to a lot more. Whether it is automation testing, dynamic or static testing there are different sets of guidelines for others to follow to get the job done.

With that in mind one has to understand that there isn’t a magic framework that will make everyone’s lives easy. Another thing that has to be understood is that it may not last forever. Things change and it is up to the team to recognize it and make changes.

Now I am not saying a complete revamp of whatever is being used. Now that could happen. What I am talking about is being more fluid and adaptive. Think about my first comment, the flavours of ice cream. In the beginning there were only a few frameworks out there that were suggested for organizations to use to improve quality. They others started to add to it or remove. Basically it was an early version of freeware. Everyone had a hand in making improvements.

One of the things that I have seen is when Senior management get’s wind of frameworks or something bad has happened where they want to start over again with process changes. This is a fools path to nowhere. The amount of time to start over and to be productive is more time consuming than to review what was done and make small changes.

Now there could be technology changes within the organization that may full well require a revamp of frameworks. If that is the case remember that a framework should not be built around a tool. That is a recipe for disaster. Tools should fit a process not the other way around.

Things must be kept up to date, and frameworks need to be revisited on a regular basis to ensure that expectations are still being met.

Reflecting on QUEST 2019

Well it has been a couple weeks now and I had a lot of time to reflect on the goings on at QUEST 2019.

As always I enjoy attending and speaking at this conference. Meeting new and old friends is always a plus. The offline discussions outside of the planned tracks are always insightful and a learning experience for everyone.

I had the great opportunity of speaking on two occasions and participating as a panelist for the Managers workshop.

I’ll start with the full day class, Finding the Why for QA. This was fun and interesting. It definitely made me think through the presentation and working with the attendants.

See I took the idea in the book Finding your Why and wanted to get a good Why Statement for the QA discipline as a whole. The other tough part of the course was that it is meant for people that all work for the same organization and have some familiarity with each other. Here I was taking people who did not know each other until they sat down in the room.

The other tough part was the presentation was meant for a bigger class size than what I had, 5 attendees. What happened was that I was burning through the deck at a faster pace then what I anticipated. Which meant I had to adapt and pull more information out of those that attended. Int eh end it worked out as there was a lot of good conversations and we came up with a good start for a Why statement for QA.

To observe and share holistically so that Teams are empowered to innovate and create harmony”

I did get some feedback that it seemed I was dragging things out, and I fully admit it. Doing speaking engagements for the past 7 years I have prided myself now that I can have it all paced for the time slot I’m given. As always theory and practice don’t work out some times, and this was not one of them.

So for those that attended that class I will apologize now that I seemed a bit stuck with where to go and how to fill the time slot. I do think that in the end it all worked out as we did come up with a kick ass statement.

Next was the Manager’s workshop. This was the second time I participated as a panelist and it was great. One of the main topics I was there for was metrics. As most of you know I love metrics and talking about metrics. This was not different. I got to share some stories of my pitfalls and successes. As well as give guidance of what they could do to improve everything around them.

My last talk during the conference was about estimating. The pain of what everyone goes through. This was probably the most attended session I have done in a very long time. We talked about different methodologies and how estimating should be done continuously and revisited to get better over time.

Overall I enjoyed my time, as always, and I look forward to next year.

In the next little while I will write other posts to go into more detail of what I spoke about at QUEST. Since we all know I love knowledge sharing.