Tag Archives: conferences

EuroSTAR 2019 – working well

It’s been a busy year preparing for and delivering the EuroSTAR 2019 conference; a year when I have learnt so much about myself, and about the team around me. A year when we have worked hard, and worked well, and so delivered a successful conference.

EuroSTAR Conference logo over an image of Charles Bridge, Prague

I set the theme for the year as “Working Well” and my first thoughts around that were about how the software, products and services that we test and deliver must work well for our customers – the people using or affected by the software. We need practices that work well for us, in order to test and deliver good software. How people work together, and the wellness of those people – that is also part of working well. And finally we have challenges – things that might stop us working well. In the call for papers, I asked people to submit ideas for sessions that expressed one or more of those different approaches to Working Well.

Conference theme - Working Well has four part: Purpose, Practices, People and Challenges.

Around me – planning and preparing for the conferences, and of course helping to deliver it, I have had a great team. Both the EuroSTAR team and the Programme Committee have been amazing all year, as were the volunteers, speakers, and exhibitors at the conference. I have had strong and positive lessons and reinforcements in being able to trust other people working as a team, in letting go control to other people to deliver a shared vision, and allowing myself to be surprised and delighted by what other people deliver when I step back.

Programme Committee: Isabel with Ioanna Chiorean, Gitte Ottosen, Jean-Paul Varwijk

Here are some things that we – the team -did together that were new for this year and which made me proud to be part of the team:

Our ability to work well is rooted in a foundation of being well ourselves, and we delivered a conference that in every way expressed the theme – we had wellness embedded, with yoga and a quiet room as well as the traditional morning run, as well as plenty of opportunities to re-hydrate, re-fuel, and relax.

EuroSTAR Wellness Logo

As part of that wellness, within the conference we thought about listening well, discussing kindly, listening to all viewpoints:

We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the Earth. Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet. Thich Nhat Hanh

Software and products that work well require – in my view – both diversity and inclusiveness in who we involve in the discussions, decisions and design. We expressed this in the conference by the range of ideas and speakers, by giving the Women in Test diversity session its own conference time on Thursday, and by having a new session – diversity strikes – where we asked the delegates at the conference to put themselves forward to speak for 4 minutes on the main stage – we had 5 wonderful speakers, with a diversity of messages about diversity, coming from the conference itself. Very proud of them, and of the session!

EuroSTAR Conference Diversity Strikes logo

There are many great speakers, and it is often a puzzle to know how you become a keynote – we introduced the New Generation Keynote mentoring scheme, mentored by Fiona Charles. The next generation keynotes were fabulous, and each delivered an important message – about customers, about aiding each other, about listening.

Photographs of the three next generation keynotes: Adonis Celestine, Shelley Lambert and Ryan Volker

The rest of the conference – the keynotes, the tutorials, the workshops, the tracks, the huddle, clinic and test lab, the expo, and the social events were all fabulous, I was so happy with the keynotes; they showed the theme as they took us through challenges that we and they face. They showed us that to tackle those challenges we need knowledge, ethics, empathy, questioning, critical thinking, problem solving, listening, involving customers – all helping us deliver our practices better – modes of testing at different stages through the life of a software product – from concept, to design, to build and into production. We face complex challenges, and we can overcome them.

Photographs of the four keynote speakers: Chris McKillop, Fiona Charles, Alex Bauduin, Dona Sarkar

Finally, the gala awards night was so special, and I am so pleased that Fiona Charles – that modest giant of our industry – received the Testing Excellence Award – I’m proud that happened on my watch!

At the end of conference, we had a moment of gratitude, remembered what we are capable of becoming, and set our intentions to take our learning back with us, and to work well for others and the world, while taking care of ourselves.

Close your eyes for a moment of gratitude. "In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher" HIs Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
A moment of preparation. "You are already what you want to become" Thich Nhat Hanh
Working well: A moment of intention. "Whenever we see something which could be done to bring benefit to others, no matter how small, we should do it"  Chamgon Khentin Tai Situ Rinpoche

Thank you to everyone who helped make EuroSTAR 2019 happen – you exemplify what working well means, by your dedication and your teamwork throughout the year, and throughout the conference! We rolled the credits at the end of the conference with about 1000 people to thank!! It was a wonderful year of teamwork to bring it all together, and I am so happy and honoured to have been the chair for 2019. Here are some links to photos that other people took:

  • The EuroSTAR team took these photos and published them via (to be added)

Good luck to Rik Marsalis, the EuroSTAR 2020 Programme Chair, and to all the team who will I know work well with him to deliver a great conference!

CHIIR conference report – keynote highlights

The conference opened on Monday with a keynote from Ranjitha Kumar, which I found eye-opening and inspiring. Her team are working on “Data Driven Design: beyond AB testing” She pointed out that money spent on design does not always repay in results, and that A/B testing can be usefully supplemented with oher methods. In particular her team is working on “design mining” (rather than data mining) to find out what designs are being used elsewhere – she said there is a rich seam of designs available which give inspiration and a test / review point. She talked about the need to connect design with KPI’s, and to understand the success of designs in terms of their effect on KPI’s.

The second keynote, on Tuesday was also fascinating. Daniela Petrelli showed three case studies of making visitor experiences during museum visits multisensory, more engaging and more memorable. By using IoT technology, objects can be used to engage visitors in specific stories. I particularly loved the votary lamp that allows visitors to an exhibit on Hadrian’s wall chose three items – each a different god – and receive a personalised postcard with oracle-like messages. This a study at Chesters Fort , specifically around the Visitor eXperience of the Clayton collection. The three case studies indicated that visitors are more engaged and remember more, because they slow down and take longer to examine objects, when they use a physical object to access information – rather than a digital screen/phone. The IoT technology allows small objects – facsimiles that can be held in one’s hand – to be used to interact with video, audio, etc related to exhibits, and allow visitors to choose the viewpoint they experience in their journey through the museum.

I loved these two keynotes, interesting in so many ways – for me as a comsumer of information on the web and in museums, but also as a test consultant. Possible analogies – these gave me some thoughts about the experience of testers in their projects.

  • For example, if it true that people are more engaged and remember more when interacting with physical objects, could we use this idea to change how people examine and interact with information generated by testing? This is NOT age related… What does it tell us about how we generate, use and display information?
  • for example, if design mining is a useful supplement to A/B testing, how could it be used to supplement how we test designs – could it be a source for heuristics to use when testing interface designs?
  • for example, what we as digital experts provide and are proud of, is not always what the consumers of our work want or expect, For example, the questions that a search engine or chat bot responds to are not always the questions consumers want to ask. How can testers find out and understand what consumers actually want? That includes the consumers of the information from testing.
  • From those questions, I wonder about our testing dashboards – not for the first time in my decades in industry – and why we don’t talk with our stakeholders, in their language. I’ve been talking about this for years, presenting on it, teaching about it… I’ll continue with that. Quote from K1 about fashion websites – customers ask for “hot pink” websites talk about “Fuchsia” or “magenta”
  • K2 provided a mini lifecycle for co-design and co-development where a technical person, a designer and a curator get together and split apart repeatedly to generate and test the ideas and design for artefacts. Is there an analogy to the developer, UXer and product Owner, and if so, where is the testing, and is there a need for a specific tester role?

EuroSTAR 2017 and 2018

I’m reflecting briefly on EuroSTAR 2017 and EuroSTAR 2018 together in this blog – because it is too late to publish what I had written about 2017 when I forgot to press the publish button….

EuroSTAR 2017 was very enjoyable. I presented a half-day tutorial which I felt went well, presented a track session, which I felt went well, and hosted a couch session where a group of us discussed leadership… Also had many discussions, metold friends, made new friends. So I arrived at the gala dinner, cheerful, hppy with what I had achieved, pleased to be with friends, out for a quiet evening of chat and catch up with Dot, Geoff, Sue and Graham…

Instead – and to my complete surprise – I was presented with the Testing Excellence Award!  

What an evening! As a result I also danced… and stayed up late, and celebrated!

I posted this on Linked In: 

The words still ring true! I am still pleased, honoured and delighted!

EuroSTAR 2018 was very enjoyable… I presented a full-day tutorial, I hosted a couch session, and I carried a secret all week! EuroSTAR had asked me to be the 2019 conference chair1 This put a whole new flavour on the week.. I was watching Rikard and how he ran the conference, I was sneaking off to be videoed and holding on to my secret… At the end of the conference – the reveal, the announcement of the theme and the call for papers… and now the work of putting together the 2019 conference begins… 

I’m honoured, delighted and pleased to be teh 2019 EuroSTAR programme chair… and I intend to live up to the theme of “Working Well”!

Conferences 2018 – a reflection

It’s been a busy year for conferences and teaching – so here is a quick summary…

UKSTAR 2018

This was in London, UK, in March.

I enjoyed day 1, with excellent keynotes from Christina Ohanian, and Gustav Kuhn. Christina’s messages on building teams were full of insights. As well as Gustav’s keynote, I’d also enjoyed Gustav’s workshop with Alan Richardson. The application of magic to psychology and then to how we observe (or don’t observe) the phenomena about us was very revealing, and certainly applicable to testers. Do we see the things other people don’t see? Can we be tricked? Powerful stuff.

Day 2 of UKSTAR 2018 was a very – extreme – experience for me. I was booked to present the opening keynote and then a workshop, and just before I was due to go on stage I had a completely unexpected phone call to say my mother had died. I made the decision that I wanted to go ahead – she would have wanted and expected that – discussed it with the programme committee and the UKSTAR team, and with their full and immense support went ahead to give my keynote – on Leadership, Followership and Fellowship – which went well, on a surge of adrenlin that also carried me through my workshop where we shared information around the UX of testing tools for testers – contributing data to my research and allowing delegates to share experiences and learn some UX techniques to apply to their own test tool acquisitions.

I used the data I collected during the workshop as one of the inputs to the Webinar I did for EuroSTAR, which also allowed me to open an online survey, and collect more data. The webinar and survey are still available here: https://huddle.eurostarsoftwaretesting.com/webinar-questionnaire-no-shelfware-lets-drive/

Thank you so much EuroSTAR and UKSTAR teams for your support during UKSTAR and beyond!

Romanian Code Camp

This was in Iasi in March. I was so pleased (given my personal circumstances) to be there with my friend and colleague Sue Atkins. Again the conference organisers were so supportive! As well as a masterclass on quality in use and UX, and a masterclass on Leadership, Followership and Fellowship, I presented on Human Factors for Test Automation, Sue and I presented a joint session on State Transition Testing, and also we both gave lightning talks. I was delighted to meet Vijay Kiran, who gave an inspirational lightning key on the importance of ethics in development – that excellent software is not just well engineered, not just exhibiting excellent UX, but also is ethically sound – doing good. I’ve been quoting him all year since! It was enjoyable to be at a conference with a range of tracks as well as a testing track: architecture, design, frontend, web, IoT, engineering, leadership, agile, entrepreneurship, and – my favourote track title – “funa dn fearless”. This conference was also beautifully hosted, ending with a cocktail party for speakers, hand made, natural ingredients – and the most delicious non-alcoholic one featuring apples and peanuts! I wish I could remember the name of the people who produced them!

STAREAST

STAREAST is always good fun, and this year was no exception…  I presented two tutorials: “Influence Diagrams – a new way to understand testing” and “Transforming Testing: building your road map”. These were both half day workshops, although closely linked together. I also presented a track on “Devices and Desires” about our attitude to technology and how that matches against the needs and desires of people outside IT. An interesting couch discussion with a group of delegates about leadership completed my contributions to the conference. Photo:  https://stareast.techwell.com/conference-photo/se18-couch-session-isabel-evans

While there, I enjoyed the Women Who Test day; each time I attend I learn something new about myself, and enjoy the perspectives of the other attendees (men and women are welcome, by the way).

HTB Workshop and HUSTEF preparation

During 2018, I was honoured to be the HUSTEF Programme Chair. More on the latter later! In June, while in Budapest for the programme planning meeting, I also presented a workshop for the HTB on Quality in Use, and at the Tezst and Tea meet up presented “No more shelfware!”

The programme planning went well, it was a real joy to work with the programme committee and the HUSTEF organising team!

BCS SIGiST

This meeting took place in London in June. Stuart Reid and the committee had organised an “all keynotes” day, which was really good fun. I met up with old friends, and enjoyed their talks, as well as presenting “Devices and Desires” to an appreciative audience.

ODIN

Off to Oslo in September for a delightful conference, I gave tutorials on UX, and on Human Factors for test automatio, as well as a keynote on Leadership. At ODIN I also met up with Lorraine and Siobhan of the EuroSTAR team, who took me aside for a coffee, a catch up… and an interesting request…

TESTJAM

Straight from Oslo to Utrecht, where I presented at Capgemini’s Testjam, on Devices and Desires, and met up with old friends (Nathalie and Kimberley and Rik) from Capgemini… A lovely evening, ending with a dash to the airport as storms disrupted air travel… 

STARWEST and STARCANADA

Before STARWEST, the various personal events of the year meant that I could get to conferences and deliver, but was unable to take in any information! By STARWEST and STARCANADA, I felt more settled, and enjoyed listening to the keynotes and tracks. STARWEST was busy busy busy and great fun!

Across the two conferences, I taught 5 tutorials (test design, requirements testing, UX, influence diagrams, automation: a human-centred approach) which all went well plus a lightning key, 2 track sessions, 2 couch sessions, and a talk on failure at Women Who Test.

I’d also been on the programme committee with Rob Sabourin (the chair) and Julie Gardiner. That had been a really interesting experience, and I was delighted to have the chance to contribute, and to help choose the speakers. My feel is that these were two great programmes – but that of course is author bias!

Great keynotes! Jennifer Bonine and Janna Loeffler on story telling – great production values, wonderful illustrations by a Disney illustrator, and a great message well delivered. Jon Bach’s courageous use of a live survey with the audience via an app was really enjoyable, as well as his thoughts on how one’s behaviour changes with one’s role. Dona Sarkar on “be the lord of your own rings” was a fireball of energy. Max Saperstone showed a brilliant use of mutation syntax testing. Fiona Charles discussed leadership and how it differs from Management. Alexandre Baudin showed us how to test flight simulators, and Sophie Benjamin eloquently told how to transform testing.

Among the tracks I enjoyed Jane Jeffers from Riot Games on asking Why, and Julene Johnson from Lucid Software on Anxiety. ALso Stefan Marceau and Keith Turpin on User Stories, Fiona Charles on Gaining Consciousness, 

Women Who Test maintained its celebratory nature, in particular from a rich day, I’ll pick out getting to see the first printing of Tania Katan’s book on creative trespassing…

HUSTEF

My first big conference as programme chair! It’s been hard work, but what an experience! I am so pleased to have done this… In fact, I think it deserves a separate post…

EuroSTAR

The final conference of the year… and as always like coming home. Old friends abound, so many greetings, embraces, and conversations! Friends from all over the world! 

I think this one deserves its own post too – lots to say, and this post is already…. too long!

Improvement: My target may not be your target…

I was swimming slowly up and down the pool at the fitness centre this morning, and reflecting on how my attitude to swimming pools has changed over the last few years, and that to gyms has changed in the last month.

Life-long – since earliest school days – “swimming pools” and “gyms” have been a source of fear, shame and avoidance; the noise, the smells, the bullying – overt and implicit – all intimidating and preventing me even stepping inside.

In the last few years I have shed my fear of swimming pools to some extent, and although a poor and slow swimmer, I do go to swim fairly regularly. Still – if people are noisy, if they shout or splash, if the water is oozing chlorine, if the lanes are crowded with strong, intent, heads down swimmers, then it takes all my mental strength to stay in the water. But, in calm water, I enjoy myself.

In November I moved to a new house-sit, in a new town. Knowing that I was in a town for the winter, knowing that I would need exercise, I joined the fitness club that had a pool. So far, so good. Then – to my horror – they offered me a PT session. All my fears of gyms, changing rooms, and equipment resurged – gut wrenchingly. But, as part of my personal and professional development in the last year, I have adopted a spirit of “try it once” so I went. It was surprising good. The PT instructor was supportive, kind, and  encouraging.

One of the things we discussed was my fear of going into a gym, as I believed that other people would laugh at me, at my lack of expertise, my lack of fitness, my incompetence. The instructor helped me to see that no-one else in the gym was interested in what I was doing, and also that they fell into a number of categories none of which needed to alarm me.  These were:

  • the local professional rugby players. Huge, fit, and lifting/pushing/carrying huge weights – they are just in a different place to me, and focused on their specific training they won’t even see me as I slip past;
  • the body builders. Rippling muscles, serious demeanors, and lifting/pushing/carrying huge weights – they are just in a different place to me, and focused on their specific training they won’t even see me as I slip past;
  • the youngsters. Slim, beautiful, practised – cycling, running, on their phones, ears focused on their downloads – they are just in a different place to me, and focused on their specific training they won’t even see me as I slip past;
  • middle aged and elderly people trying to get fit – oh hang on…. even if they are fitter than me, now, they’ve come from somewhere…

Guess what – I can go in there, and do the things I want to do, at my own pace. And no-one is laughing at me. Even more – if I need help – for example to adjust a machine – everyone I have asked for help has been helpful.

The machines I am using now at the gym – they are mostly on the lowest settings, the smallest weights. And I realised this week – there is a reason for those smallest weights – it is because people like me have to start somewhere. And now I have started, I can continue along an improvement path as long as want, to the level I need, regardless of what anyone else is doing. My targets are not going to be the same as the body builders, or the rugby players, or the youngsters. My target is to move from 5kg to 7.5kg, not from 5kg to 25kg. That’s all I need to do for now.

Why is this post in my consultancy blog and not in my personal blog? Because my message is to those of you who are not quality and testing experts. You might be as worried about starting on a self-improvement path around your professional practice as I was about going to the gym for the first time. My message is: try it.

Maybe you want to improve your personal practice, but you are not sure how. Perhaps you want to learn techniques, tools, approaches but are frightened that you’ll be laughed at if you ask. Perhaps you want to speak at conferences but feel you are not good enough. My message is: give it a go. Ask for help. There are many of us in the industry who are more than happy to help if we are asked. Go to a conference, or a test bash,  or on a course. Talk to other people at the conference. Talk to the speakers. You’ll be surprised at how much you can already do know, and you’ll be surprised how much you can learn. Your target for self improvement need not be huge, just to make a small difference. Maybe to learn one technique, maybe to try one new approach.

Try these for starters:

UKSTAR, London: https://ukstar.eurostarsoftwaretesting.com/ 

  • I’m speaking at this one so you can use a speakers discount

Isabel_Evans_discount

STAREast, Florida, USA: https://stareast.techwell.com

  • This includes the free Women Who Test day on the Friday, so make sure to book for that as well.

On my personal list for 2018 is to get to Ministry of Testing event – I just need to get myself together and do it! Have a look at https://dojo.ministryoftesting.com/events

And also look at the online resources those conferences support – there is a mass of useful information you can get access to.

I keep a list of conferences where I am speaking on my website: confer with Isabel