Open Space Night at xp2013

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Yesterday I attended the Open Space Night at xp2013. A big thank you to dieProjektur for sponsoring the ticktet to the event.

To be honest I was not quite sure what to expect from an Open Space Night. To me it sounded like a get together. I was prooved wrong. Looking back to last night’s event I have to say that I am really happy that I joined the event.

Open Space

So what is “Open Space“?

An approach to host a meeting, conference, community event etc. without a predefined agenda. It does sound weird, doesn’t it. It is similar to Lean Coffee events. However in my opinion it was more dynamic given the amount of people – approx. 60 people that were at the xp2013 Open Space Night.

How does the Open Space work?

We simply got together in a conference room sitting in double circles. Then the rules of the “Open Space” night were explained to us.

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The basic idea is that everyone can come up with an idea, topic, experience etc he/ she wants to talk about. It does not matter if you are a specialist or a novice or if you just want to raise awareness. The thing is that by applying and holding on to the few rules of Open Space you can learn a lot and contribute to discussions in such an easy and inspirational way.

Once you have presented your topic in a few words you can put the sticky note onto the schedule board. Then everybody can choose if he wants to join a meeting/discussion at a certain time or not. If the person joining a discussion does not learn anything from it or just feels uncomfortable, the law of two feets applies.

The law of two feet (a.k.a., The law of personal mobility): If you find yourself in a place where you are not learning or contributing, use your two feets to move to someplace where you can learn or contribute.

The Principles of Open Space

  • Whoever shows up are the right people
  • Whenever it starts, it starts
  • Whenever it’s over, it’s over
  • Wherever it happens is the right place
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could

As it was my first Open Space I was watching the people coming up with some interesting topics. However there was one thing missing I was keen on talking about. Software Testing!

So last but not least I came up with my own meeting suggestions: “How to move the bottleneck from testing to development”. Again I did not know what to expect before the meeting actually started so I just let it flow.

Surprisingly 7 people showed up, including Markus Gärtner from Germany. All the participants had a great discussion about the role of software testing, both in traditional and agile environments. What I took away from the discussion is that the skills and mindset of Software Testers have to change according to the changes of the whole environment and movements.

In a normal “agile” environment you should not have the bottleneck problem at testing. So is it just a common mistake to assume so? Is it because normally the ratio of developers to testers is around 5:1? Do the skills of a tester fall into account when testing is a bottleneck?

I was talking about my experience working with Caplin Systems and Benjamin Mitchell where we shifted the bottleneck to the left side of the board. How did this happen?

  • as a QA Engineer with development background it was quite easy and normal for me to communicate with developers
  • I had no problems maintaining and enhancing the test framework
  • testing started even before development started
  • I tried to sit together with developers and do some automation in parallel
  • we were 1 team where each person had a different skillset and we made the best of it

So it is possible to move the bottleneck from testing to development if there is one. It is also possible, like we discussed, to move the bottleneck from development to analysis and specifications. But this is a different topic now.

One of the things we talked about was the skillset and mindset of a tester. Why is it taking so long to change a tester’s mindset? In my opinion there are some fundamental problems. However I will let you know the outcome of my research regarding this matter in my next blog.

So long..

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