Coaching With Anne-Marie…

Ok, so I read this

Then I Skyped CHARRETTS and got connected.  Then I stalked… in the nicest possible way of course.  Each night when I felt I had an hour or so to commit I checked to see if Anne-Marie was green.  One night she was!  Only to find out that she was just about to start coaching another lucky tester.  Doh!

Anyway, after all these times trying to get a coaching session it ended up being by coincidence that it happened.  I hadn’t even thought about it on this particular evening and was talking to another contact on Skype when I noticed the green

David Greenlees: hi there…  you coaching?

Anne-Marie Charrett: no, yakking to James about my dog

So after we too yakked about martial arts and the ocean…

David Greenlees: sunrise in fiji…  nothing like it.   would it be rude of me to ask for a quick challenge?  don’t want to interupt you and the master

Anne-Marie Charrett: no problem

Woohoo!  Then away we went for the next hour and forty minutes.

I had to test something… and after clarifying what something was I made my choice.  An item that was sitting next to me on the couch.  Lessons Learned in Software Testing.  Testing that book seemed appropriate, while totally random!  Once I had made my choice I had to come up with a test for the book.  I started by asking a few context-free questions however this was not the intention of the challenge/coaching so AM quickly clarified that, while at the same time applauding my questioning.  :0)

So I thought about it some more and came up with testing the snapshot (which is what I call the text on the back cover which provides highlights, etc. of the book – I’m sure there is a proper name for this text).  My idea here was that whenever I go to buy a book I always read this text to help guide my decision, but I have never gone back to it after reading the book to see if it was actually relevant.  So this seemed like a good test.  This was too broad though (for the purpose of coaching), so I had to be specific.  So AM pointed to the number of lessons that are mentioned in the snapshot, being 293.

I had to provide AM with step one of my test… at which point I got way too ahead of myself and started thinking way too fast, assuming, second guessing myself, until…

David Greenlees: it’s the beginning of the test yes?  not the entire test………  woah, you’re messing with my mind…  that’s one test and what i’m building is multiple tests?

Anne-Marie Charrett: slow down

Anne-Marie Charrett: thats part of Exploratory Testing

Anne-Marie Charrett: Lots of testers think that ET is like ad hoc testing

Anne-Marie Charrett: (which it is in a way)

Anne-Marie Charrett: but a skilled Exploratory Tester slows down their thinking

Anne-Marie Charrett: understands how they’re testing

So, there is my ultimate lesson from the coaching session.  Critical Thinking!  Obviously there was more to it, but I’m not going to include the whole transcript.  ;0)

We then moved on to how I worded the first step of my test and how one word that I used could be very broad and lacking direction.  In a way I was assuming an understanding.  Assuming that everyone would think the same way I do.  Well why the hell not?  ;0)  Seriously though, this was lesson number two for me.  Assumptions!  While it’s impossible not to make at least some, you need to be aware of them.

AM went on to explain one way of combating assumptions is by using different models in testing.  So lesson three for me was some different models that could be used.  I had heard them before, but had not put them into the perspective of combating assumptions, which actually helped my understanding of them a whole lot better than reading about them during ISTQB.  Funny about that!

Anyway, we could have kept going for hours but it was about time to call it quits.  It was after 10pm I guess.  I’m very much looking forward to our second session.  I’ll maintain my stalker profile until such time as I snag another session.

So, for those of you who get a chance… look AM up.  You won’t regret the hour (or thereabouts)!

5 thoughts on “Coaching With Anne-Marie…

  1. “So I thought about it some more and came up with testing the snapshot (which is what I call the text on the back cover which provides highlights, etc. of the book – I’m sure there is a proper name for this text).”

    I believe it is called the blurb.

    I had a quick look at lessons learned, and the last marked lesson is indeed number 293. However, this in itself doesn’t prove there are 293 since there may have been a mistake somewhere (e.g. 2 lessons numbered 153 for example) or there may be two or more lessons marked under one number.

    • Very true Andrew. Add to that…

      They are actually referred to in the blurb as ‘293 pieces of experienced-tested advice’, so you could be forgiven for coming up with a completely different view. Also the fact that ‘relevance’ is very subjective… What I believe it to be could be completely different from what you believe it to be.

      Your test would need to involve the tester counting each lesson, but this would not cover the subjective view on relevance mentioned above. You would also need to be very clear on the definition of ‘lesson’, or be comfortable in making the assumption that others would know what a ‘lesson’ was.

      Such a small thing can be spoken about and analysed for quite a while. The beauty of our craft!

  2. I was lucky enough to have a coaching session (Still have to put up the experience). It really is an eye opener to be coached by Anne Marie. I’m still thinking back to what I had learned.

    I hope I have the chance to do another session (why life slows down).

    Glad to see that you got something out of it. BTW – I tested a book (Simple in theory, hard when you’re questioned).

  3. Hi David,

    Sounds like you had a similar experience to me! I made a load of assumptions in order to frame the tests I was writing – not great, but I felt it got us to a starting point. AM pointed out these assumptions were not great & lead to fairly ambiguous test.

    I tested my TV remote – gutted when AM asked me to describe it – took up half the session!

    Will getting my write up sorted shortly…

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