Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A year of blogging and for what?

I'm coming up to a year of blogging  on testing, and it's interesting to reflect back.

I first came up with the idea of this blog really as a place to collect some useful materials.  I've always worked in my companies as a mentor, and imagined this place as a mentoring hub for anywhere I'd work in future, rather than my hard work being locked into the company intranet of somewhere I'd long left.

But as 2011 turned, I moved out of just testing and into test management in my new role.  My new company offered a lot of challenges.  Sometimes I'm frustrated that “we're not there yet”, but we're making progress, all-be-it slower than I'd hoped.

Work has presented me with a few frustrating moments and dead ends.  I've found it useful from tough weeks to sit in front of my machine, and talk about what's gone wrong – but try and stay positive, and talk about how to make things right.

I think an article I personally go back to a lot, is the Kobayashi Maru of Office Relationships.  It was a very tense time at work, and somehow talking about it and breaking it down helped.  I've worked really hard since to build bridges with Pauline, and I'm hoping we have a much better relationship.  Ironically through the bridge building process I've found out just how much pressure she was in, and she's admitted to not always handling it that well.  What could have become a bitter office feud is turning slowly into two mates trying to watch each other's backs – relationships take some building.

Another stand out article I've written has been The Agile Haka, about getting teams to work better, which got published in The Testing Circus, and my General Manager read this month and gave it his seal of approval.  And finally Those Darn Test Estimates, which is more identifying when testing overruns – I refer to those root causes regularly with my Project Managers now.

Those were my favourites, though ironically not the most popular of my posts.  You can never second-guess your readers.

I thought I was going to write this blog to teach.  In fact I found every time I sat down to write, I actually learned.  Just sitting down and thinking of an aspect of work I was unhappy with helped me look at the problem, break it apart, and look for answers.

What else did you expect?  I am a tester after all ...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why is it so important to be able to socialise after work?

We had a great night last week after work. A departmental meal and karaoke night had been organised for the Friday.  Everyone talked with each other, and often with someone new during the meal. We enjoyed a few drinks, and we got really into the spirit of things becoming quite competitive on the microphone.

It's important to like the people you work with (although I'm usually better friends with people outside of work). But it's important to do these events once in a while because there's an important though subliminal message within these things as long as it's all fun and games.

The office is a place of tension. Project managers want one thing, business owners another, testers and developers something even more different. I discussed a little about office tensions in the Kobayashi Maru ofOffice Relationships – I've worked many different projects in 15 years in the IT business, and it's a similar story everywhere.

But in a social environment, when you get on and even have fun with others, there's an important thing you come away with. No matter what the strains of the 9-til-5, you can get on with each other. Yes it's going to be tense at times and sometimes emotional. But it's nothing personal.  And that's something important to come away with.

The Rugby World Cup – learning to celebrate

The end of an amazing road for New Zealand – hosting the 2011 Rugby World Cup and of course also winning it.

Behind the Rugby World Cup has been an army of volunteers who've given up their time for something they had passion for.  I was among them.

A year ago in September 2010 they asked for volunteers, and I put my name into the ring.  Expecting something glamourous like marshalling at the odd free game, or meeting a celebrity.

In actual fact my volunteering meant I had an office job, working with IT creating photo passes.  As it would turn out, a portion of this has been my actual day job.  So not really glamourous.

But is that a surprise?  When work needs to be done, it needs to be done.  Sometimes it's unglamourous, sometimes dull, sometimes tiring.  But it needs to be done.

The best part after the win by the All Blacks was the victory parade in Wellington.  As volunteers, we got to wear our uniform and walk behind our team through the streets.  It was an amazing experience.

Oddly enough we've been reflecting at work about projects, and how we end the.  Invariably projects complete a little later than liked, and we scurry from one to the next.  We lose our ability to celebrate success in any form.

All told my volunteer work for the World Cup added up to about 7 days.  And yet we walked through the streets with a bit of fanfare, we got a mention of thanks from the Prime Minister himself.

And yet I put many more hours and effort into my work and projects.  But do we find the time to have our own celebration?  Perhaps it's time we did.

[Look very carefully and you'll see yours truly in the volunteer army behind]