Me here at last on the ground, and you in mid-air…..

…..Send in the clowns

Working with people you are comfortable with is important, and I take it as a sort of backhanded compliment that my colleagues felt comfortable to have a laugh at my expense.

I have a small habit of being able to relate most conversations to things that I have a keen interest in.

For example: “I remember this bug in Y2K” …. “Yeah, remember Chris Jericho’s Y2K gimmick?”

So, I’m going to set some context and let’s see if I can find a way to attach something to learn from it.

I love the combination of chocolate and orange, it’s my thing. Whenever I have been unwell, the food that I have craved first once my appetite returns, are Jaffa Cakes.

It was therefore a wonderful thing when I was bought ~120 Jaffa Cakes in total for my birthday this past month. The majority were McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes, but a few were from Marks & Spencer.

Obviously McVitie’s are the best – they are the originals after all (I did have to Google it to check).

I still have half of them left, but I am trying.

So what was the rouse?

We had a few conversations about who made the best ones, and also dabbled with different flavours…..although, is it Jaffa if there’s no orange involved?

Then, I went away on holiday for half a week…..


What could possibly go wrong? We will find out later……


One of my colleagues went to TestBash Manchester this month, by all accounts it was a wonderful conference and so he mentioned a desire to provide some feedback to the whole test team.

I’m all on-board with that, so freed up the agenda in the scheduled test team meeting, one week to the day after I returned from holiday.

The return…..

So, on my return my colleagues were keen to talk more about the Jaffa Cakes; the box of 100 remained on my desk.

We walked to the local Lidl and bought some more to do a taste comparison.

It was all a little fun.

I professed my preference for the McVitie’s ones.


They asked for my scores and I was happy to partake and indulge in conversations about it.


The reveal…..

The presentation went really well, there were a lot of really good takeaways (keep an eye on for the talks to go up on the Ministry of Testing Dojo).

We were a little pressed for time, as I had failed to book the room for long enough.

The final slides came up, revealing some Jaffa Cake images.

I had been eating Aldi Jaffa Cakes, from a McVitie’s box and proclaiming them to be the best.


Yes, that is a hardware lab and yes a lot of colleagues knew.

So how can this be pulled back to become anything like a tech related blog post and not just poking fun at me?

A little bit.

  • I had an instinctive bias toward a particular brand
  • I was blind to some quite obvious differences (see 12 in one pack and 10 in another)
  • Manipulation of the situation – my colleagues were overly keen to discuss Jaffa Cake comparisons, and stroked the ego of the Jaffa Cake connoisseur
  • The plan only worked because of the focus and work of several people working together
  • The reveal was done with impecable timing


The lessons that I have learned, that I can apply to my everyday job are:

  • Assumptions can be misleading and more of a risk than some identified risks, tools such as the One Page Test Plan include a section for assumptions and risks for this reason
  • Smoke and mirrors are incredibly powerful, it is easy to be misled by shiny and new things, or from a scenario that is only subtly different from the norm
  • Bias drives us, sometimes to our detriment, know what you know, question what you know
  • Teams working together make for a tangible impact
  • Timing is everything

Blog post title lyrics from: Send in the clowns – by Frank Sinatra.

Find all the songs from my blog posts at this Spotify playlist.

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