…..and I ask myself the question, What’s the right direction to go?
This blog has served as a few different things; it’s been an echo chamber, a vehicle for getting my point of view over, and a way to share what I have learnt.
I love telling a good story, and even more so, telling them to my boys. My father-in-law has this wonderful game with my boys, where they ‘feed’ him a story tablet and then he spins a tale that simply encapsulates their attention. It’s wonderful and I’m only slightly jealous…slightly.
Storytelling is an art, and it’s my favourite way to consume media, even more so when it is personal experiences that you can tell is coming from within.
Here is my story of my personal retrospective.
I had a problem last year, where I was struggling with feeling like I wasn’t being effective anymore. I felt like I was going through the motions a little and I was getting irritated.
That’s not the person I want to be.
So, rather than looking at the world outside of work for inspiration – as fans of the blog will have noted with my wonderful Crossover Observations section will confirm I have done so very well (sorry) – I looked to the Scrum ceremony of retrospectives.
There are so many different resources, and ideas to keep these ceremonies fresh and engaging for the team. I had the pleasure of attending one such talk at an internal conference last year by a good friend and colleague, where he introduced the value of retrospectives beyond just sprint cycles.
If I was using artistic licence, I would tell you that he inspired me to do this, in reality I think it was inspiration that I was seeking and it was before my very eyes, every sprint cycle.
It’s not a unique thing, I’m sure. I remember in a. 1:1 with my manager, he even brought up the idea when I told him that I was struggling. And when he did, I had this with me, but I didn’t share it with him, and I regret it.
So, what did I do?
I decided just to note a bunch of headlines down and write where I felt inspired to do so.
The headlines were:
What helps you to be successful?
Where and when has it gone wrong?
What do you expect, from who?
Which tools or techniques proved to be useful? Which not?
What is your biggest impediment?
If you could change one thing, what would it be?
What caused the problems that you had?
What’s keeping you awake at night?
Which things went smoothly? Which didn’t?
I can tell you I never completely filled this out, but these questions made me think. The part that jump out was number 3 – the one about people….
For me, this job that we have is all about the people. Tech stacks, tools, languages, methodologies are all important in the workplace, but people are what bring software and the place you work to life.
They can also be the biggest blockers, and I didn’t want to be one.
So, I broke it down into four points – but the one I will concentrate on in this post is about what I expect from myself, and that now stands as my personal relationship values as a software tester and a leader.
I expect myself to be:
- If I am not visible, and cannot make time for my colleagues, then I am letting myself and them down.
- Without drive, I will let complacency in, go stale and not be a positive force.
- Continuously learning
- If I lose that curiosity that got me into testing, then I have lost who I am.
- Setting an example
- If I truly believe something should happen in a certain way, then I should model it, I should talk about it, people should see that in the way that I work.
- Empowering and enabling others
- No man is an island, and I by myself, cannot achieve much. I take the greatest of joy in giving opportunities to others, to help them to find their path, not to direct them.
- There is so much power in feeling supported. We had a story around the dinner table when I was growing up, that my sister was in a long-distance race, when my mother stood up and started vocalising her support for my sister, and all of a sudden she sped up….simple and perfect analogy.
- I worked with colleagues who genuinely looked at me with disdain if I ever approached them about anything, I promised myself I would never be like that. I may wear headphones to concentrate, but I absolutely don’t mind being interrupted. The same goes for IM. I want to be here to help, I can’t do that if I am unapproachable.
- When I am working, my time isn’t always my own. One of the earliest compliments I received from a colleague, was that I was always willing to drop what I was doing to help. And while that can be detrimental and context is important, it is vital that you can be flexible to help accommodate others – not to the extent of working insane hours….all hours…losing sight of the work/life balance, but still the point stands.
- Coaching and mentoring (seeking it for myself and encouraging it for others)
- I don’t want to get into a semantic debate about what these terms mean right now. But, if someone wants coaching or mentoring, then they really should have it….not necessarily from me, but I would actively encourage it and hope to help put the right combination together.
- I am not perfect, I do not know everything, and that is OK. I want to present an honest version of me, that’s the version of me that I would respect and want to work with.
- Off the back of honesty and humility, I want to share when I am struggling, when I know that I’m getting into bad habits and so on, and I will seek it out.
- And that was the genesis of The Testing Peers
My hope is that by publishing this and any further posts on this subject, that I can be held accountable against these words as my public declaration of who I want to be as a tester, a leader, a colleague and a friend.
Blog post title lyrics from: Man or Muppet – by Jason Segal – The Muppets cast.
Find all the songs from my blog posts at this Spotify playlist.