Sunday, August 25, 2019

"Anthony Naveen - A Learning Experiment" & Request for Votes :)

Today, I spent a good eight hours mentoring and coaching Anthony Naveen as he expressed interest to improve his testing skills. He has around two years of work experience and now out of job.

It started with me asking Anthony to call me on Skype at 9.00 pm on Friday and I will resolve all of his queries. He pinged me at 8.58 pm and I was impressed (hint). We chatted for a few minutes and I asked him about his plans for Saturday. When he told that there were no plans, I asked him if he can come over to my home and we could test peacefully.

I was home alone and slept around 1.30 am. I woke up around 8.30 am and I received Naveen's message at 9.00 am sharp. I asked him to come at 10.30 am as I would be able to get ready, have my breakfast by then. He said ok and reached before time (10.12 am).

I also had a visitor at 9.30 am. With my plans fully going haywire, I was a bit upset - lack of sleep, no food, no bath and two visitors (one of them unplanned and the other early).

I and Naveen started discussing testing from 10.30 am. I decided to order lunch at 12.30 pm and ordered breakfast. I was having a running nose and was confident that it's just a matter of a few minutes and everything would be fine again.

After asking Naveen to tell everything he knew about testing and his background, I told him the agenda:

  • Introduction to Software Testing
  • Understanding the Context
  • Modelling the Application
  • Test ideas to test any application
  • Bugs and bug advocacy
  • Tools for testing
  • Test Reporting
  • Continuous Learning
By lunchtime, we had finished modelling the application. I was going through my slide deck and explaining each term. My plan was to finish the slide deck and then move on to hands-on. He was making notes, asking questions, acknowledging and then I asked him a few questions. 
His answers were my words. Cross questions did not yield any new words. Either blank stares or I don't know or some other unrelated terms popped up.

The language was not the biggest problem as he used the next logical technical term and words in our conversation. I was struggling to find what is the root cause. I wanted to find out what was blocking his progress:
- Lack of practice - Mostly yes
- Fear - Partially?
- Peer pressure - Young guy, probably yes
- Lack of mentoring - Clearly visible
- Lack of exposure - A big Yes
- No encouragement - Most probably
- Language, Culture issues - Don't know

and many more

I paused, took a deep breath and called up Mahesh Chikane and discussed a few things. 
It gave me an idea for some other problem, me & Mahesh are trying to solve.

I closed the laptop and shared the simple process of software testing:

Requirements > Test Ideas > Test > Bugs > Investigate > Report

That's it. Nothing more, nothing less.
We started our 90 mins of a hands-on demonstration of how to test and also complete the above stages in software testing. I was giving a live commentary of why am I doing whatever I am doing, what else can be done and why the current approach is preferred. 

We finished the 90 mins. The timer helped us remind about the deadlines. The recording tools helped us record. The mind mapping tool helped us organize our thoughts. Google helped us get test data. There was instrumental music, food, mosquito coil for company. 

What did I learn?
# A journey of ten plus years cannot be given in eight hours.

# There are multiple factors that are at play - confidence, maturity, intelligence, personality, learnability, self-awareness, skills, discipline, interests, approach and a few more (I need to think deeply to articulate them better)

# Feynman Technique - I need to get better at explaining this to a toddler.

# There is a need for simple exercises. I will work on these. Examples need to be easy to understand.

# A 90 min demo is different from coaching someone. You can wow someone with your work. The challenge starts when you want to discover their talents and also coach them towards their betterment. 

The upcoming months are definitely going to be interesting.

And about Anthony Naveen - he has potential, just like all the testers. He will get better with practice. Today is his Day 02. Let us see how he turns out by Day 100. Meanwhile, let me ping him and ask how did Day 02 practice affect him.

I also remembered that "Testing Heroes" voting has started.
Link to vote:

I have been selected as a finalist for "The Explorer" category. I am also proud to say that my friend and colleague Satyam Dixit is also a finalist for "The Performer"

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Friday, August 16, 2019

1st Anniversary with Qapitol QA Family

Strange things happen in life. I messaged Dheeraj Karanam asking if there is anything for me at Qapitol QA as I will start looking for new opportunities after 6 months. In ten days, I had the offer in hand! The vibes were good and as we say there was a thought process DNA match!

And what happened next is a story worth continuing.
Let me try to wrap it in five key points - a journey that started 12 months ago.

(Q)uality - Problem Solving at its best
I am witness to so many expert problem solvers and problem solving examples everyday that I enjoy working at Qapitol QA. Every employee has solved one or the other problem in such an innovative way that it motivates me to be at my best to stand upto their expectations and meet the high standards everyone expects from each other.

(A)ttention to test design and automation
Wonderful balance between testing fundamentals and using technology to assist testing. There are companies who think automation can solve any problem and there are companies who don't scale because they don't use the right tools at the right time. In between, there is a sweet spot and we are there. We know when to say No and we know how to learn anything to delight customers.

(P)eople & Projects
Who is on leave? Who needs help? Who needs course correction? Who is facing issues because of travel? Who needs immediate training? Who needs a confidence booster? Every employee is closely observed and groomed with the freedom to make /new/ mistakes.

The projects are awesome just like the people. Some of the toughest problems are being solved by the QAPIOS. One could solve a problem that is visible to everyone. One could highlight the problems that no one has realised them and solve those, which is sometimes more interesting than solving the visible problems. I have been in projects where the clients were shocked that testing could be done in this way too - we reduced 5 days regression to 8 hours and the clients were shocked, surprised and pleased!

(I)ndividual Freedom and Responsibility
I had experienced such freedom and responsibility in Fiberlink (2012) and in Tyto Software (2016). It was good to get back to the deadly combination. It is not just at the management level. Every employee is empowered to take decisions and when things go wrong - the question asked is: "What can we all learn from this?" and not "Why did YOU mess up?"

(O)rganization focused on learning
Every day is a learning sprint and I am learning how to solve new problems every day. I worked on three different domains in a single year and enjoying the challenges each domain presents. All the experience of working with different teams, different stakeholders and different company cultures is helping me here! I would have never thought that the mistakes I did early in my career would help me after so many years. I am learning with every guest speaker too! We had James Bach, Sanjay (Chropath) and Sundaresan (Pact) so far.

More power to QAPITOL QA and all the QAPIOS!

Twelve runs scored and the pitch seems to be a good one for batting!
Should be an interesting innings. Bring it ON :)

By the way, we are always on the lookout for smart folks to join the smart teams.
Interested? Ping me on LinkedIn -

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