What Executives Value In Testing / StarWEST / MindMap

I’m at StarWEST this week so thought I’d make the effort of taking some notes of some of the sessions/talks I’ve been attending.  I don’t have the stamina to do it for all of them, but here’s my mindmap and some relevant photos from Mike and Jeanette’s talk.  I was particularly interested in this one as I’ve always been keen to hear more about testing related to startups.

This is not a replacement for the talk and may not be entirely understood without context.  Just saying :)

Download the PDF / Download the text file.

What executives value in testing Michael Kelly Jeanette Thebeau


Abstract of the talk:

Professional testers and test managers are feeling the pressures of low-cost competition and tools that claim to replace them through automation. So, how can test teams add more value to their projects and organization? In a recent survey of executives and testers, Mike Kelly and Jeanette Thebeau found major disconnects between what executives and testers believe are most important to the business. They explore new insights into the risks and concerns executives perceive and what you should do differently. In the survey, most testers believed that finding ways to cut operational costs was a low priority test objective, but executives listed operational cost reduction as a high value testing activity. On the flip side, testers believed that regulatory compliance was a high priority, while most executives reported compliance testing was a low priority. Join Mike and Jeanette to find new ways to help ensure the products you test solve the business problem, meet customer needs, reduce operational costs, scale easily as demand increases, and are built to quickly add new features over time.

The 21 Hour Work Week

I read this report on a 21 hour work week by the NEF 3 years ago (when it first came out).  It talks about the benefits that would be achieved if society adopted or moved towards a 21 hour work week – the benefits which included economic, heatlh and community.  It really is worth a read.

Since reading it, the idea of a 21 hour week has really stuck with me.  I think I’ve long been thinking of how to society could work better.  It was part of the reason why I helped set up a coworking space a few years back.  Having kids also makes many people (including myself) re-consider their work situation.

I’ve had it as a goal of mine to work towards a 21 hour week because it feels right to me. The stress of a full 40 hour work week plus commuting time just feels like too much for me and my young family.  It’s taken me a while to get there, but I believe my shorter work week is now here.

I’ve long thought it’s ludricous that society is fixated on a strict 40 hour work week, often with the expectation to work longer hours.  Sure some jobs need employees to be around at specific times, but there are so many jobs that are so close minded about work hours and flexibility.  Then there are articles like this one congratulating an entrepreneur because he works 40 hours per week (not 60, 80 or 100).  There’s a lot of wrong there if we think someone has it so great because they work 40 hours per week.

Of course this depends on the job, but if you give someone 40 hours to work per week it is highly likely that their work will take them 40 or more hours to do.  If you give them 20 hours, I bet you they would be much more productive or creative in how they can get their job done.

As someone who runs their own little business, I am always conscious of the time I spend working.  I’m not always at the 21 hour per week mark.  However, I am always looking to cut out things that just take up too much of my time.  Like meetings and travelling. I also have to think much harder about where I spend the time – my time needs to be used to be used as effectively as possible, eliminate any kind of waste, bring in some kind of value to my business and/or be helping give me achieve some kind of work happiness – if it’s not then I don’t bother.

Like anything, a 21 hour work week is highly unlikely to happen overnight, but it is possible if you work towards it as a goal.  I feel like I am almost getting there.

Sure, perhaps if I worked harder then my business would grow faster, I’m sure it would to a certain extent. However, I do believe the work I’m doing needs time to grow. Whenever I try to push things too fast then I feel like I make the wrong decisions.

The ironic thing is that I still feel busier than ever, but it’s a good busy and it’s not all ‘work’.

Less Is More

The more you have, the more you use.  The old saying is that less is more.

Take a business for example –  ’old’ businesses are often burdened with more.  It’s hard to get rid of waste. It’s hard to change or innovate. It’s hard for the people and the business to be nimble and quick. Is it really a wonder why startups can achieve what big corporations can’t?

But I’m not just referring to business.  It applies to any aspect of life.

For us, we are aiming to have less stuff. Less commuting.  Less work. Less furniture. Less things. Less clothes.  Less toys.

This gives us more. More freedom. More space. More peace of mind. More time with the kids.

Funnily it means we are busier than we have ever been, but in very different ways.

Less means…

  • More creativity.
  • You make do with what you have.
  • You make sure you do your research.
  • You help friends or colleagues, and vice versa.
  • You are ever so careful with what you spend.
  • You be as efficient as you can.
  • You think outside of the box.
  • You question everything you are doing.
  • You remove any kind of waste, hassle or unhappiness.
  • You appreciate what you have.
  • Flexibilty.
  • Control over your life and decisions.

Society is obsessed with more…

Everything in the media is obsessed with growth.  Big is good. Small is failure.  I disagree.

Big means:

  • other people make decisions for you.
  • you can’t think for yourself.
  • someone else thinks outside of the box for you.
  • you have no flexibility
  • you have no control
  • you do as people ask
  • you have no (or a very ineffective) voice
  • appreciation of what you have is often lost.

It’s really ok to have less.  These days it is an advantage.


Learning To Be

Life is one big long journey.

Who I wanted to be when I was 13, 18, and 25 is different to who I want to be now.

Who I want to be in 5 years time will no doubt be different from who I want to be now.  My aspirations will change. My life will change too. My kids will be more grown up. I’d sure be a sad puppy if my business didn’t change either.

What I do increasingly feel is that I know more about who I want to be and what I stand for.  Perhaps it is a simplistic concept.  And people say it all the time – ‘just be yourself’.

But it’s hard to just be yourself, perhaps:

  • work is not allowing you to
  • you don’t feel you have the time to yourself
  • being yourself means creating a lot of change around you
  • you have to do things differently, and that is scary.

(etc, etc, etc!)

I often relate this back to my business and my kids.  The fact is that creating a business is hard work. Raising kids is hard(er).  Doing the two whilst homeschooling feels like a whole other dimension.

It was a couple of years ago that I decided to be somewhat selfish: everything I wanted to do had to evolve around me, my life and how I wanted to work.  I felt this was essential to help me become a happy and productive human being.

Initially this meant working at home with an infant whilst my other 2 boys were at school. Now it means working whilst homeschooling all my boys.  A subtle change? Hmm, not quite.

(2 of) my boys come to work with me It does mean that I work from home or wherever there is wifi.

It also means I work strange hours. An hour here, a couple there, often late at night.  I’m happy with that. My kids come first, that’s the way it should be.  I’ve also learned to become very efficient with my time.

It also means that I create my own image of myself and my business.  This could come in the form of general branding. However, it can come in many other forms – the way I dress, how I behave, my personality, the effort I give to create something special and fun, the time I spend getting to know people (without giving them a hard sell).

Perhaps the biggest change for me is adapting my business to work for my family.  One example is bringing my kids along with me when I have an event or go to a meeting.  I don’t do it all the time. I did it today for a Rapid Software Testing course.  I brought my #2 and #3 in with me whilst the students got settled.  It wasn’t longer than an hour.  They enjoyed it and liked the drinks and croissants on offer.  I’ve done it for business meetings too – “if you want to talk to me, then we’ll have to meet in a park”.

It felt awkward at first, especially with my youngest (who is 2).  But it’s important for me.  Partly because it’s me ‘ learning to being me’.  But the other part is that (I believe) it helps create conversations and change.

These conversations and hopeful change is what drives me. I want to show people how it is possible to live a life of balance – because frankly society totally lacks it. <– I’ll leave that for another rant.

There Are 3 Types of Learning



I’ve been immersed in learning about learning!

Apparently, there are 3 types of learning: learning to be, learning to do and learning to know.

Which one does society focus on the most?

It’s the learning to know.  That’s what most *educational institutions* focus on.  They want to teach you stuff. Cram more in. Make people think they are smarter or dumber than they are.

What about learning to be who you want to be? To explore and discover your talents. To be that someone that makes you the happy person you deserve to be.

What about learning to do? This means developing the actual skills to help you do a great job. *Knowing* how to do a great job doesn’t mean you can do it. Doing means developing skills through practicing and practicing some more.

The trick is to find the magical fine balance between knowing, doing and being.

For me personally – the more I learn how to be who I want to be, the more I want to know and do.  Interesting, no?

What’s happening in Rosie Land?

I reached a milestone in my #runrosierun efforts. I ran for 30 minutes without stopping.  I've also been running for a month now.

I’ve spent the past few months making adjustments to my life.

I love all the work I’m doing with STC and feel quite fulfilled with what I continue to create.

Alongside what I’m doing I feel the need to learn more.  My current thing is learning about learning & education.  This is partly because I recently started unschooling my eldest son.  However, I’ve always had a nagging thing within me for years that has drawn me towards learning about education.  My current situation just amplifies it.  It conveniently ties into my work with STC and Ministry of Testing as I am trying to encourage and find ways to advance the software testing world through community end educational efforts.

As part of the process I want to write about stuff.  I’ve got off to a lame start with a unschooling blog - this is really a more personal space to write and log things that we do through our unschooling journey.  I’ve done more over at Messy Times – a place that I write about the messy times we live in!  It’s mostly a mash of things that I have experience with relating to business, parenting, life and education.  Mixed in with some drawings that I’ve done, just because I can. :)

I also just got access to Medium, which is interesting.  It led me to write something on how I’m trying to avoid a stressed out lives for my kids.

The more I live a somewhat more different life to many, the more I feel the need to share. I feel like I’m making that ever elusive progress to finding that work life balance. I’m enjoying my life and work. Learning to relax more and let go with my kids.  And quite importantly finding time to be active, through running and playing sports with my kids.

It’s a constant balance with making essential finances work whilst keeping my family ecosystem working.  It’s not always easy and it does take time, but if I can do it, then I hope it will encourage others to do the same.


A Story of A (Testing Planet) Bug

I’m a tester. I run websites aimed at testers. Strangely testers seem to get this weird pleasure reporting bugs to me. I won’t tell you of all the bugs that I know exist, but I can tell you of one.

The one that made me laugh at first then wonder how we were going to fix it. The one bug that was a real pain in the *** to fix. The one that was the equivalent of finding a bug once the CD-Rom had been shipped. The one that happened at the busiest time of my working year. The one that led to great conversations. The one that will mean we will hire some extra help for the next issue.  The one that highlights that content bugs can be hard to catch.

A Bug on The Testing Planet

It was a bug on The Testing Planet that we failed to catch before it went to print. We’ve had typos before. Wrong dates. But this one was different, not catastrophic, but more embarrassing to see go out. It was a few lines of editing notes that were left in at the end

of Lisa Crispin’s article. Ooops we say. We fixed the digital version easily. It took about an hour to do all the necessary work.

The fix we came up with was to design a sticker to promote TinyTestBash to go on top of the unwanted text, the effort that went into it:

  • This sticker had to be designed (1 hrs effort).
  • It had to be printed on to label sheets and precisely cut, this actually took a long time! 4 hrs to create a sticker for each copy of The Testing Planet, to date I’ve only done it for half of The Testing Planets we’ve ordered. So the total will be 8 hrs.
  • We then had to stick them in each of The Testing Planets, this was time consuming too, especially as the stickers were manually cut which made them difficult to peel. Total time for (half of The Testing Planets) was 8 hours.
  • I needed some help as I had very little time that week to deal with this issue (it was in the run up to TestBash), so I called upon Mauri’s help who was conveniently attending the RST course.

Total cost to fix half of the bugs: 17 hours. As I distribute the rest of The Testing Planets that we have it will likely double.

Great conversations and making a new friend with Mauri, priceless :)

(I won’t mention Mauri getting to see my boys fight in the back of my car!)

So if you have a copy of Issue 10 of  The Testing Planet you now know why that sticker is there! :)



Join Me In Some Testing Photo Fun

In the testing community, sometimes I feel like we all don’t know what we all look like. Is it important?  Maybe or maybe not, either way I think we could have a bit of fun along the way whilst getting to know each other a bit better.

So next week, when I meet and speak with you (Coaching Testers, RST & TestBash) I will ask you if I can take a self potrait of me and you. Or maybe a group of us.  I would like to publish them straightaway via my Flickr account alongside names of people, otherwise I may forget! At the end of it I hope to have a nice collection of photos of all the great people I’ve met.

There’s a deeper reason here too – I hate my photo being taken, but I need to get over it.  And perhaps, as I’ve learnt over the years, if I feel this way, then others do too.  So here I am saying it publicly – lets get our camera (phones) out and show the world who we are!

I hope you will consider joining in with me.

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