My TakeAways from a TestAway 3.0

Testing and Learning

Testing and learning goes hand in hand, you can not test well if you don’t learn, and you can not learn well if you don’t test. There is a decade old question going around in the industry where you need to know if you are actually testing or just checking. Same can be asked about learning I guess, and I did ask that to myself if I am just practicing what I have already learned or really learning anything new? By learning I mean if I am studying new skills/methods or observing and getting new information, dimension and perception.

Why I attended TestAway?

I have been working as a remote freelancer since 2009 and sometimes I wonder about how other testers function and approach and perceive testing. Are those buzz words real or just a hype. At conferences sometimes it is hard to feel relatable and in a formal environment peer interactions are also limited or not that deep. So when I got to know about TestAway – a residential learning program I was quick to approach The Test Tribe team, and felt so happy when I got selected as one of the participants.

What was unique about TestAway?

The unique thing I found about TestAway was, it had a right balance of personalities with different mindsets and varied experiences whether personal or professional, and that made the experience unique. It didn’t matter what personality type you are, you will feel encouraged, included and involved in every activity, and in the end it’s your turn to make and get best out of it. The other thing was the intention of this event, when intentions of doing something are honest it reflects in the outcome. This time the event was happening in Goa, and when Goa calls nobody can dare to say no.

Activities at TestAway

We played a game first and then came to know who is who. The well planned games and activities educated and encouraged us to introspect about our earnings and potential to earn more by analyzing what we can do to increase our worth and in the end we all made our action plans. Where one activity tested our observational skills, in the other we got a chance to be an artist & showcase our creativity on paper which later became the subject to share a good laugh over. In the round table discussions, everybody explored their full potential, desire and goals, and to my own surprise I also ended up with one.

Whether it was a push-up challenge, cooling down in a swimming pool, spiritual and philosophical discussions at breakfast table, one to one interactions over interests/skills or problems to overcome and tools to explore, I witnessed most of them.

Workshops at TestAway

Three workshops were conducted, two by Ajay Balamurugadas on Mental Models and Hands on Testing a live application and one by Sandeep Garg on Jmeter and performance testing.

Ajay explained 5 interesting mental models (Inversion, Framing, The Map is not the territory, Second order thinking, Opportunity cost) and showed how we can use them into testing, and understand and solve problems at hand. Working in a group also revealed how much of it we really understood and where we need to focus more. The hands on testing a live application was something refreshing, where I got to understand how to organize and give a structure to my testing activities, and be more effective not only at testing, but planning and reporting as well.

Sandeep explained performance testing using a practical use case, and how to interpret, understand and validate the statements when made about the performance of something. Personally performance testing keeping basic fundamental aside, is an uncharted territory for me, but I would like to explore it in details now.

Learning from the participants at TestAway

In a formal setup it is hard to know people as a person or individual and understand their perception and approach. But with a casual and fun set up like this, it was not hard at all to mingle and discuss interests, strengths and weaknesses. So here is what I learned and perceived from each individual(in an alphabetic order)

Ajay – His approach towards continuous learning, and testing is something very commendable, and besides that he also creates the impact by educating the testing community. I will definitely work on understanding mental models and giving structure to my test activities. I was amazed with the level of reasoning he came up during the Mafia game.

Ashwin C – He shared his on site experience on product support and why everyone should do it at least once. During the Mafia game I saw his transformation from evident mafia to innocent villager and understood the dynamics of the game.

Ashwin S – It was good to find an enthusiastic cyclist among the group. He also explained me how teams functions within companies, and what those terms which were alien to me mean actually.

Balaji – I am amazed of his sincere thirst for the knowledge and improvement. His work into testing simulation software left me curious to know more.

Geosley – He was the first participant I interacted with from airport, and he shared why he participates in each TestAway event and how he has switched roles in his career. I could understand why such events are important and how one can transform their career for better.

Jayshree – I mention myself, because I came back by becoming a better version of myself, so old me who decided and went their definitely deserves little pat.

Mahathee – I shared a room with her, and we talked over many things personal and professional. She was very honest about expressing her thoughts. From her I got to know about the RST Slack channel which recently I joined.

Mahesh – As an organizer, it would not have been an easy task to screen each participants, and get the right balance as a group. So I understood the importance of having the right intentions, being clear about and executing them. Also he gave me the chance to talk about freelancing, and for the first time I could see that I too had something to share about. In the Mafia game, I saw him observing and noticing little things to make the better judgments.

Raghu – He talked about open source contribution, which is something we need to hear about more. Not many think to give back to community, and out of that only a few know how to do that.

Sai – We had the least interactions but in the Mafia game, he taught me it is okay to kill the fellow mafia 🙂

Sayali – She is a marathoner, and we shared a good amount of laughs. I learned that one can be silent and comfortable at the same time. From her I learned about Library of Testing which I look forward to explore more.

Sandeep – As soon as he mentioned Jiddu Krishnamurti I could feel an instant connect. He listened well to each question before responding(which is something to learn from) and he also cleared some of my doubts.

Suraj – We worked as a team on mental modeling, and we both tried to make best out of our knowledge and understanding. When the team member’s approach towards a problem is constructive, it makes the work fun.

Last my biggest takeaway is how playing a Mafia can improve one’s observational and testing skills, and it’s really simple but crazy and addictive game.

In the end once you are done with searching and seeking out for more, onus once again comes back to the self and it’s always up to you what you get and make out of what is in your plate. I also broke out some of my myths, like being introvert I might not be able to interact and do much. I had forgotten that just having a question kicks me enough to build bridges. Questioning is something which have kept my testing flame alive, and it is what makes me good at what I do. May be more than introvert I was just acting lazy in reaching out to people.