For the past year and a half, I’ve happily run the Weekend testing Americas sessions and, with few exceptions, I’ve been the primary facilitator for these events. So far, it’s worked great… except when things happen where I can’t be there. Then we have a problem.

Sadly, due to some automobile challenges and some needed reshuffling of drivers for my Boy Scout Troop and those attending Scout Camp starting July 7th, and since we are now no longer self contained (originally all Adult leaders attending were driving there and back, now we need to recruit some drivers to go up and come back the same day) there’s no way I can get kids to Scout Camp and facilitate the session at the same time.

This is a known danger with me, and it stems from being a lone gun much of my career. I tend to do things and just, well, do them. My biggest weakness is that I rarely ask for help, and because I rarely ask for help, it tends to leave a vacuum when I can’t be there to do something. So starting today, I’m actively recruiting for Weekend Testing Americas facilitators to be.

What does being a facilitator entail. At its core, it means committing a few hours on a Saturday (or any other day, really, the facilitator sets the schedule) so that they can do the following:

– Set up a Skype session (using the “weekendtestersamericas” account)
– Welcome and add attendees to the group discussion
– Introduce the topic, the testing objective and the charter(s)
– Encourage newer testers to participate (often pairing with people who are very new to the process)
– Keep track of the time and make sure that the discussion moves well and freely
– Ask questions to keep the conversation moving
– Make sure the session ends on time

After all is said and done, they capture the Skype chat transcript and save it as a document, and then the final steps would be to write an experience report and post it, along with the chat transcript, to the Weekend Testing site.

There are some additional steps as well, usually involving posting announcements of sessions to Twitter and sending an email to the list of contacts, getting more testers to likewise advertise the sessions, and posting the “next session” details on the site.

Is that asking a lot? I honestly don’t know. I’ve done this for so long now that it’s mostly automatic. It may be a lot to ask one person to do, but it may not be too much to ask two or three people to do (and to be fair, I frequently get facilitation assistance in sessions from Albert Gareev and Ajay Balamurugadas, so even if you go it alone, you most likely will not be “going it alone”).

So yes, this is a call to arms, and a request. I have been remiss in sharing how to do this, and I want to help spread the ability and knowledge so that, when I cannot be around, Weekend Testing Americas doesn’t just stop. Here’s another thing, you do not have to be in the Americas to facilitate the sessions. You can be from anywhere in the world and do this. My only request is that you schedule the session(s) at a time that participants in the Americas can reasonably be there (we’ve typically used a range of from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m Pacific, with 10:00 a.m. Pacific being the sweet spot).

If you are game, please feel free to email and I will most certainly get back to you… very quickly, I’m willing to bet ;).