I’ll be playing and (talking about) failing at ConTEST New York

I’m really looking forward to ConTEST in New York on November 29th – December 1st.

I will be presenting in two sessions at the conference: One on play, which I’ll do with Jess Ingrassellino, and one sharing my experiences performing great testing by embracing failure.

I know what you’re thinking: “I don’t play at work; I work, and I certainly don’t fail at my job.”

I appreciate that. Really!

But we also know that people who play well perform better, and that the best way of learning is through failure. In these turbulent times, playing and maintaining a readiness for learning seems more important than ever.

I think that soon HR people will want to read about failures, not successes, in resumes. People will reflect, talk and care about failures more than successes. We need to create a positive brand out of the failures of course, i.e. share narratives about what we have learned – and might still be learning.

Apart from that, I can’t tell you much about my talk on failure yet, as I’m still thinking about how to structure it and which of my own failures I will be sharing. They keep popping up and deciding which ones I’ll start with, go through, and end with is difficult.

Jess and I did our session on play first time at the CounterPlay conference in Aarhus, Denmark in March, then a few days later in Copenhagen, so I can share some more on that.

One of the good things about Denmark is that we have a culture that generally value playing.

We finally now even have wide support for more play in the parliament as they are currently working on http://jyllands-posten.dk/indland/ECE9963902/ny-paedagogik-efter-20-aar-leg-skal-afloese-laering-i-daginstitutioner/http://jyllands-posten.dk/indland/ECE9963902/ny-paedagogik-efter-20-aar-leg-skal-afloese-laering-i-daginstitutioner/changing legislation to stop kindergartens from having agendas fully focused on learning. They are putting free play back at the top for our children. The decision is backed by strong research showing that children that play freely perform better when they grow up.

I spent my time in kindergarten in a forest, where we played and explored all day long. I like going back to the particular forest from time to time and feel like “little Anders” again.

I take this as a reminder that we benefit from to re-connecting to our inner playful child from time to time. Tt makes us happy, but also makes us better performers. Even when problems queue and we need to be ok with being at risk failing.

The session at ConTEST will be a safe place to play. We will introduce participants to musical exercises that everybody can perform.

Jess has a doctorate in music education and is a virtuos violionist, and we will experience her play her beautiful instrument and teach us to perform in ways we probably thought we could not.

ConTEST has allocated us one hour, and we will make sure we have time to engage conversation about the good things we find in playing – conversations which you can take with you and continue at work.

A tester who participated in our workshop when we did it in Copenhagen recently came back to me about his experience:

“I didn’t get exactly what happened…”
“But you seemed to enjoy it?”
“Yeah!”

And that’s really all Jess and I ask you to: Engage and enjoy.

You may not feel you “get it”, but that’s part of playing: Performing without having to necessarily “get it”.

I hope you’ll join me at ConTEST!

 

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Lacking a photo of me playing, here are my sons Jens and Troels playing with our poodle Terry in a forest.

 

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Chaos to Kairos – NYC May 1st session on playful testing skills with music and philosophy

Jessica Ingrassellino and I will perform a workshop at the NYC Testers Meetup on Monday May 1st during the Test Leadership Congress. Join the meetup to participate.

The session will be based on the workshop we did at CounterPlay, an international play festival which took place in March in Aarhus, Denmark. Titled “Playful Software Exploration” the topic was value driven improvisation skills in testing. Together with the participants we tested, performed music and formed a philosophical, protreptic circle

The somewhat disturbing background of the workshop is that in a performance oriented and individualized tech industry, we are expected to drive ourselves to be the best in a complex or even chaotic reality. Remaining true to our professional and personal values while staying sane and ready to act and perform every day can be very challenging.

Our CounterPlay workshop was a success. Collaboratively we gained sense of and got to the core of important values in testing. We were even interviewed for the popular show “The Harddisk” on Danish national radio.

This time we would like to playfully explore the significance of Kairos in testing.

Kairos is Greek and means the supreme moment in which the future is transformed to the past with a particularly fruitful outcome. Kairos is important in rhetorics because while there are rules of good communication, there are moments in which speaking and acting is particularly fruitful: There is a time and space for the good talk. And even the best performance will fail if kairos is not considered.

This is an aspect of all improvisation and play, and good testing is in many ways always an improvised, playful act.

We know it when we perform exploratory testing.

But even when testing is turned into a controlled and scripted process, it makes sense to perceive testing in the microscope as a playful exploration and experimentation with potential and actual outcomes – even outcomes beyond the directly observable testing results: E.g. learning points for developers and management.

At the core is that testing makes a difference for people around us, even those who are not directly involved in testing and developing.

So let’s think beyond the processes, and functional and technical perspectives on testing, and explore software testing as a playful and human event with potential to create order in due time.

No prior knowledge or talents are required to join the workshop. But bring curiosity about values in testing, and be ready to play and improvise, introspect and think and reflect abstractly.

Best,

Jess and Anders

Protreptic Salon 7: Play and Passion

We hereby invite to the 7th protreptic salon in Copenhagen, this time with Jess Ingrassellino from New York – and for the first time in English.

Join Jess, Karen, and I in a salon with the theme “Play and Passion”:

Growing up, we become serious and think that play is childish behavior to be abandoned. Later we discover that the truth about play is more nuanced.

Play represents a very human aspect of life and it seems to have power to connect us to passions and personal values even in difficult situations.

The subject we would like to explore is how we stay true to ourselves, thrive, and face challenges of our professional roles in playful ways.

We wish to uncover wisdom about how we can playfully be productive, nurture our relations, and perhaps even serve higher causes.

Be quick to apply for this unique and intimate salon with music and philosophical dialogue.

Date: April 3rd 2017
Time: 16.00 – 18.30
Where: Gjesing Coaching, Prinsesse Charlottesgade 31, kld, 2200 København N
Apply to: karengjesing@privat.dk

Should you have registered, but be unable to participate, please let us know as the number of chairs we can fit in is limited and we’d love to share with someone else if you can’t make it.


Jessica Ingrassellino is a musician, teacher, philosopher, researcher, programmer, business owner, and software tester from New York. Prior to her life as a software tester, she was a full-time music teacher in New York City public schools. In 2015, she completed a dissertation about assessment and school music; in 2016, she wrote “Python Projects for Kids“. Currently, she test software at Salesforce.org. She also runs TeachCode.org, working within the New York metropolitan area to bring improvisatory, imaginative coding education to underserved communities.

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January 24th: Meetup on Risk Based Testing Strategy

On Tuesday Janaury 24th, we will be hosting a meetup on Risk Based Testing Strategy under Ministry of Testing Copenhagen Meetup group in Herlev.

Make sure you register as a member of the Ministry of Testing Copenhagen meetup group to stay tuned when new meetups are announced.

Also, don’t miss the Ministry of Testing home page to learn about other meetups, TestBash, news, and lots of useful testing resources.

I’ll be at Let’s Test Oz in Sydney in September

DSC_0540AI’ll take a 22 hour flight Copenhagen to Sydney in September, where the fourth Let’s Test conference and the first Let’s Test Oz will be held at a resort in Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Austrailia.

The conference programme was announced a while ago, and it’s pretty awesome. I’ve attended and spoken twice at Let’s Test in Stockholm. I’m sure the Oz-edition will be as fantastic as its Stockholm counterpart.

I haven’t yet decided on my program, but I’m looking forward to Fiona Charles’ keynote by Fiona Charles and her workshop on leadership
But there’s a lot of promising stuff in the programme

I insist that testing is and should be a value adding activity. As testers, we’re not just finding other people’s mistakes; we make a positive contribution to the project with the knowledge we are collecting in our testing.

To do great testing takes clever thinking, and clever thoughts never live in isolation. They’re shared, bounced and developed into great ideas. Let’s Test is an inspirering conference, a place where great ideas develop, and that’s why I like the conference so much.

My own contribution to the programme this year is a session about politics called “All is fair in love and war”. I commit to context driven testing, but testing can be a driver for change as well. I find that a key to do it is to do clever politics on top of the knowledge we have and collect in testing. Some testers have grown to hate politics, but politics can help us, if we use it wisely: With an ethical standpoint, and with a sound vision of what we want to achieve.

Twice has Let’s Test refuelled my capabilities as a tester, a test leader, a test manager, and a test analyst. Twice has Let’s Test inspired me and given me new friends and acquaintances. I’m looking forward to my third Let’s Test, this time down under, where I expect to meet some great testers from the southern hemisphere, take time for a good talk, do some testing, have a beer or two, take a walk in nature…

You can register for Let’s Test Oz here.