I’ve been enjoying time in Mountain View this week! I’m happy to say I’ve been visiting my dear friend Marlena Compton, fellow test blogger and currently a Mozilla tester, along with her hubby Chris who has spoiled us rotten with great cooking and even tolerating figure skating on television. This enabled me to go to my first Selenium Meetup, which Mozilla SanFrancisco was hosting, as well as a meetup at Agilistry.

The start of the Selenium meetup was amazing. I got these picture of the bridge that just blew me away! The space was amazing, and it was fun to see Matt Brandt who I know from the Writing about Testing conference. There were no chairs, which worried some folks, but there were actually plenty of seats, so as a team, once we scavenged chairs I helped explain to my Mozilla friends how we could arrange them by height, and also have some out of the room so we wouldn’t break the fire code. I can’t talk much more about the Selenium meetup until after next Wednesday when we do the first Selenium Meetup in 2012 in Seattle, and then I’ll share it all! Hope to see some of you at the Seattle meetup, but to get in you MUST sign up to get to the floor we are on, so http://www.meetup.com/Selenium-Seattle/ is the link. I left feeling quite discouraged from the San Fran meetup, but the next day was exactly what I needed.

Agilistry has a meetup where smart, amazing testers, developers, and product owners work together. I realized what I love about software is working with smart, good-hearted people on things that I’m proud to be a part of. Some people want to be wealthy. Some want to be part of the in crowd. Others want to be famous. Some even aspire to make a scientific contribution or to change the world. I simply want to do good work with people I’m proud to work with on software I’m proud to work on. I believe I met some like minded people at Agilistry. People who are interested in agile methods because continous improvement can lead many teams to a better place, and they feel happy with the small victories, the quiet accomplishments, and the humble willingness to change. Something keeps coming up repeatedly, and that is that the practice of mindfulness.

Kirk Hendrickson was the presenter. The topic was Customer Empathy Maps.
Kirk explains what Customer Empathy Mapping is to the group.

Empathy Map Categories and Starting Considerations

Group all added in what we were hearing, thinking, doing, seeing, saying, feeling and what is our pain, what is our gain. When we added in real things it was more relevant than adding in assumptions or our ideas of what a person “like that would be ________”. Lesson was learned that it becomes less useful if we make a caricature than if we get deeper with one real person.

I would use this technique for understanding more about a customer on a visit. I would do an interview and ask them some questions like, “What are some specific things you did yesterday?” Maybe even, “What was the highest point of your week last week in terms of x task? What was the most frustrating part of the week doing Y?” Maybe even taking what they say and listening in terms of what they are thinking, hearing, feeling might help me come up with a new solution, or even a new test. Does X meet a requirement, but miss the mark in terms of giving a rewarding feeling? These are things that could help a whole team considering quality, but I fear mostly is limited to the PO or “requirement creation” portion of a team.

I learned one unexpected thing, and that is that generally the developers I enjoy and want to spend my time with are not young, cool, new graduates out to change the world with their lean startup in the bay area. I like developers who’ve got some experience under their belt. Perhaps some grey in their beard. They tend to know more about testing, including how they test their own code. Most often, they have a broad view of quality, and for that reason are questioning easy answers. They may be the person who sees that the demo isn’t on a live website, when Skippy the New Graduate is nodding so fast he looks like a bobblehead at the new tool demo. Skippy is totally convinced when he hears a presenter say, “It’s ALWAYS better to automate a test, no matter how hard or expensive it is to get there.” The grey bearded developer is thinking, “How can I incorporate this new tool as one part of a solution, and how many years until it isn’t such a hot mess it makes me miss an important client delivery?” Anyhow, It isn’t that I like Agile so much. It’s just that generally the people are better for me to work with. If there are smart, open, team oriented people who are using any development methodologies and care about  whole team ownership of quality, I’m interested in seeing what they are doing as well.

Thank you to Agilistry for hosting this meetup, and to Kirk for sharing his knowledge on Customer Empathy Mapping.