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Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Shaking your Agile self to a better testing community.

Well, it's been a shaky few days here (quite literally) not to mention the flooding and gale force winds that apparently come along with an earthquake now-a-days. But we're on the up and up again!


Our testers have just done something super agile together in the past few weeks. We've all been feeling a bit down after some big structural changes that have left us without the single point of leadership that we're used to. After months of this, we decided to get together and work something out once and for all, do we actually need a named lead? Or were we relying on them for things we can do ourselves?

Agile to the rescue!

In a fit of inspiration (*cough* and with the help of one of our Agile coaches), we decided it was time to have a QA Retro to actually talk about how we're all feeling and what we want the future to look like.

We used post-it's to write our points down beforehand, then one by one we put them up on the board, then silently grouped them into topic areas.

One of the things that really struck us is that we all had some very similar concerns about how things were going. With that done, we moved to the lean coffee format and timed a discussion on each topic group. Now came the fun bit. We talked, and I mean really talked, with a no interruptions rule and a mindfulness on if you were contributing perhaps a bit too much (so that other's get a chance to talk too).  Most importantly, this wasn't about solutions, solutions were forbidden.

We worked a lot of stuff out, the most important though, was that we could be doing a lot of things that we had been relying on a QA lead for. Our sense of community and learning, career progression, internal and external tester perceptions, all these were things that we could tackle ourselves. In fact, these were things that in hindsight it seems strange to rely on someone else for. No one can make you have a community, no one can make you learn. These are things we need to push for ourselves.

We did see that we definitely needed someone to represent testers and testing at higher levels, but that person didn't need to be a "lead", just someone with our interests at heart.

We all left our retro feeling a mixture of hopefulness, optimism and apprehension. It's an easy kind of thing to forget about, well, doing anything about. But all you really need is a few really passionate people to push these things forwards. Luckily we have those passionate people who are willing to take the time to put some ideas together.

Agile can be used for so much more than just pod level things, and never be afraid to just get everyone in a room to talk through things. We forget that we're not alone when things are feeling a bit down, it's so easy to just retreat into yourself and your own work, never realising that there are many others who are feeling the same way and that together, you can really make some changes.

Have a great week nerds!

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