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"