After Neil Younger’s talk on Lean Coffee for team meetings at the Cambridge Tester Meetup last night, we ran a Lean Coffee session. These are my notes on the topics we covered:

How do you teach testing?

  • The question was set up on the premise that “you can teach/there is a lot of available material for software development, but not so much for testing”. 
  • This was disputed: was the assertion confusing (availability of material for) learning programming languages with being able to program or being a good developer?
  • When teaching or coaching testing, particularly to non-testers, a detective metaphor is useful.
  • Testing is about a problem-solving mindset … but so is programming, right?

How do you keep up with technology?

  • When your product uses or interacts with some new technology, how do you get up to speed with it?
  • How do you get sufficient depth to be able to talk to experts on your team?
  • Testing is about learning, whether it’s your product or some new technology. Use your testing skills.
  • Learn in small increments, by using the thing you are learning about. 
  • Talk to the experts, probe their knowledge and learn from them. Use your context-free testing skills to try to find cracks in their knowledge, your implementation of the technology etc.
  • Be aware that you’ll never know everything about all technologies.
  • Look for meta knowledge: over time you’ll see similarities across technologies.
  • Do a Google search for e.g. failures in others’ use of the technology and look for analogous cases in your context.

How do you unblock yourself?

  • When you’re out of ideas, how do you get a fresh perspective?
  • Pair with a colleague, or even swap roles with a colleague.
  • “Unthink” by going for a walk, removing all your distractions, doing a different piece of work.
  • Look for patterns in your blockages and try to break them. Perhaps you’re always blocked at just before lunch?
  • Use a different way of getting ideas out, e.g. a mindmap if you’re usually a list person.
  • Wear a different hat, Use personas to spur ideas.
  • Stop overthinking! Perhaps you are just finished.
  • Use mnemonics, checklists.
  • Look at historical data for the thing you are testing (bug reports, charters, meeting notes, user stories etc).
  • Find a different way in to the problem, e.g. start the application a different way, with a different browser, on a different OS, with the mouse set up so the buttons are backwards etc.

Why did you come tonight?

  • Because it was Neil talking.
  • To learn more about Lean Coffee.
  • Interested in facilitation techniques.
  • To try something different.
  • To make connections to other local testers; I work on my own.
  • Needed something to do in the evenings.
  • To find some different ways of doing things.
  • To have a forum to ask questions.
  • For those Eureka! moments – there’s always one.
  • To get inspiration.
  • To speak to other testers about testing.
  • Research, to speak to testers about the tools they use.
  • To see whether the hype about tester meetups is justified.

… and did you get what you wanted out of it?

  • Yes!