The year of the challenges – 2013

Year 2013 is coming to an end. Usually by this time I’m looking forward to my new challenges for the next year. I often get stuck in my ideas about the present and the future figuring out my next step and challenges. Once I decide for something I just hop on the train and go.

For once I’m jumping off the train and stopping for a while to reflect over 2013 which has been a very interesting year to me.

Looking back at all the things I’ve done this year there might be a reason for feeling really exhausted. In addition my job as a Test Manager added to the list of unexpected challenges to deal with this year. But that is a different story…

2013 was a challenging year filled with frustration, laughter, fear, excitement, pride and joy. These are the highlights:

  • Episode 1: Beyond the fear of presenting…
  • Episode 2: Behind the scene at Öredev 2014
  • Episode 3: PSL – avoiding getting arrested in Albuquerque
  • Episode 4: Öredev is on!
  • Episode 5. Next?

Episode 1: Beyond the fear of presenting…

January – May

My bewildered experiences from SWET4 the year before triggered a few goals for this year. That breakfast meeting with a coach on communicating and presentation skills ended up in six sessions to prepare for my talk on Tester Skills in February. The preparing itself was somewhat of an experience. My coach really challenged me to do things I wouldn’t imagine doing. He was sort of  the opposite of who I am. At times it felt that we were way apart. In the end I took what I learnt and did it my way, feeling more comfortable about my presentation.

A few things which still surprises me are how I got the participants to talk, to laugh and interact during the presentation. My coach gave me a few very good tools for how to set the stage so to say. It’s amazing how very tiny tweaks in the preparation can make a huge difference.

The preparation for my Tester Skills talk was really about getting ready for the real thing; Let’s Test! I was terrified to do this talk. I had been accepted on a specific proposal but on the way I realized that I really didn’t find any inspiration or joy in that subject. I’ve learnt that I can only do a talk on something that inspires me. So I froze and I felt so bad until someone just asked me “Why don’t you just ask if you can change your talk to something that you are more interested in?” Imagine the relief I felt when I got to change my talk!

The feedback I got on both my talks were very positive. Though I still haven’t dared to watched the video recordings ( Maybe a challenge for 2014!).

My takeaways from this episode:

  • I learnt a new English word during this journey…procrastinate! I am the queen of procrastination (though this was not really new to me).
  • My presentation is not a monologue, it’s a dialogue.
  • I can always ask the question.
  • Ask for feedback – (I asked James Bach for feedback on my talk, since he is an experienced presenter. I also knew he would give me an honest, tangible and thorough feedback.)
  • Engage someone more experienced. I decided to get help from a talking coach since this would probably get me quicker up to speed. I learned a lot from this!

Episode 2: Behind the scene at Öredev 2014

January – May

Late 2012 I was asked to join the program committee for Öredev. I felt humbled and nervous about taking over this assignment from Sigge who has done a really great job the years before. So it was with fear and excitement that I accepted the responsibility for the Testing track. So what was my fear? Well at first I’m not really the most extroverted person. Somehow I had the assumption that it would be beneficial being more extroverted meaning networking and talking to people. I love talking to people, but I’m more of a non mingling one to one person. (And yes, If the phone would ring I’d rather wait to pick it up and hope someone else picks up).

It turned out that e-mail and chatting on Skype worked out just fine. And occasionally I did a few calls too.

I had a goal with the test track. I wanted to have a mix of international speakers. I wanted it to be diverse and attractive also to developers since Öredev is a developers conference. I wanted to be proud of the test track. It had to be something I would want to attend.

I was actually the first to have my track fully booked and I could relax long before the program was announced.

My takeaways from this episode:

  • Skype is great, time differences are not.
  • It was not as difficult as I thought it would be.
  • It was really fun working on a/the program committee!

Episode 3: PSL – avoiding getting arrested in Albuquerque

August

I remember the first time I heard about PSL. I was in Colorado Springs on my first CAST conference in 2009. We were out walking in the Garden of the Gods when this workshop was mentioned. I never really understood what it was. To me is seemed to be some sort of secret society where only people on a special list were allowed to participate. And in addition it was really expensive. It seemed like something completely out of reach for me.

During the years that passed my perception of PSL changed and the more information I got the more I wanted to attend (it is really not very expensive the course itself, but adding accommodation, flight, food and days away from work it gets kind of costly).

In December last year I had prepared a list of arguments to present to my boss assuming he would demand such. But I had forgotten what a great boss I have and once he had read the very brief course description I was in!

Some of you have already been to PSL and might know what the title refers to. For those of you who haven’t you might find out if you go. I say might, because you never know what will happen at PSL. Though what you learn and take away is up to you.

My takeaways from this episode:

  • Two problems might appear to be the same. But they are not necessarily the same.
  • People most of the time really want to help. They believe they are helping. People act from different set of values.
  • I confirmed following; I definitely prefer hanging out with a very small group of people or a larger group where I know everyone really well.

Episode 4: Öredev is on!

November

And so finally it was time for Öredev in action. It started with a dinner on Sunday for my dear new friend Martin Hynie and his colleague Daryl who came all the way from Canada to attend Öredev.

And from Sunday to Friday it was all about Öredev. Monday was the famous skinny dipping in the Baltic Sea at “Kallis”. We were a few brave people who refused to do this madness. My excuse? Oh, I live in Malmö and can go do this whenever I want (the fact that I’ve lived here for more than 15 years and never done it doesn’t matter).

From Wednesday to Friday the conference was on. Most of the sessions are available here. I attended most of test sessions though unfortunately a few of the sessions were on at the same time. All in all I had a great time at Öredev!

My takeaways from this episode:

  • What I like to attend is not necessarily what others like to attend. The feedback on the test track was mixed. For next time there will be a few more hands-on sessions.
  • It will be difficult to attract developers to the test tracks mostly since there are other sessions that probably appeals more to them. It might be better to focus only on testers ( Though I know a few developers showed up on the test sessions. My husband was one of them!)
  • Space Pigs sucks (the room where most test sessions were held)! Don’t have a room that can be used as a short cut to go to another room or area.

Episode 5: Next?

December –

I finished off this year with a challenge for next year. Erik Davis and I sent in a proposal for CAST 2014. A few months ago Martin Hynie, who is a common friend of us came up with the idea for us to do a co-proposal. We have a few things in common when it comes to test management and leadership. It is also a topic that we are both very interested in.

To add to the challenge, Erik and I have never met. We live on two different continents. I am keeping my fingers crossed as hard as I can for this challenge!

My takeaways from this episode:

  • I can’t say no to challenges!

I hope you had the patience to read the entire post. Thank you for being part of my 2013!

I wish you a very Happy New Year and All The Best!

2 thoughts on “The year of the challenges – 2013

  1. Did you know that “kallis” means “dear” in Estonian?

    It’s a great year you’ve had and I think your Let’s Test talk was a great one. I know I can go back to my notes in case I need to hire someone to look for inspiration.

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