Why Testing Peers?

I may be responsible for initiating the Testing Peers, but it has become the essence of a collaborative entity.


I have a habit of rambling on a little, and a knack for translating that rambling into prose. The primary example of this being my initial pitch to the group that would become the Testing Peers.

I want to try something out with some other willing and like-minded testers….and would want to include you in that.
Would you be game?
There hopefully would be blog post(s) and a conference talk abstract to come from it as well.

talk about leading and vague request….

essentially, I believe that testers in our position, can often be quite isolated and find peer support lacking.
I want to try and foster some sort of accountability group.
I can’t really share some things with my team, as they report to me, and I can’t always share so easily with my manager as a) he’s a dev and b) I report to him. Professional conflict etc.
It requires a degree of honesty and vulnerability, so therefore trust and buy-in. But, essentially, I’m looking for people who will be authorised/empowered to check-in/challenge me where I know I need it.
I don’t imagine it would require a lot of time, but it does require a different level.

Does that make any sense?
You can totally opt out

I’m not entering it as any kind of expert, but I have identified an area where I need help and I can imagine that I’m not alone

I would hope it could be a two-way (or more depending on whether it was 1:1 or as a group)

I’ll try to unpack this mess of a pitch to explain my motivation better and give examples of how it has manifested into something that is already in excess of what I had envisaged.


Like-minded testers

Everyone that I reached out to was someone that I knew, either directly through having worked with them, or through meeting them at conferences.

I was seeking testers who have a thirst for growth, curiosity, honesty, and enthusiasm to share.

Testers in our position

I look around me in my workplace, and I see a lot of people that I love working with, people I am happy to share with (and who I hope feel the same). But, in my context I do not have I direct peer. There are developers at my level, but no other testers.

Why do they need to be testers?

In this context, where I identified a deficiency was that as the senior tester, I was one able to guide testing strategy, in a position where I could almost operate without accountability, or worse still, with misinformation.

Accountability?

I mentioned in a blog post last year the following:

I think the most important thing here is relationship, whoever you are accountable with, needs to be someone you trust, otherwise you won’t share with them. They also need to be on board with the concept and be willing to challenge you.

Regular catch-ups, be that phone calls, coffee/tea breaks, a time available to share – just make sure you’re in an environment where you’re comfortable to share, consider who else is around.

Agree what it is that you want to achieve, what you are talking about, you could even create a charter.

I don’t think it needs to be a colleague, or someone in situ with you. But, someone from the same domain would likely be advantageous.

Importantly, you need to know that you can say when things go beyond outside those boundaries, without judgement. The last thing you want is to start making your accountability buddy uncomfortable.


So, what happened?

I reached out to eight or nine lovely testers, all of whom showed some interest.

I made a rather scattered Google Sheet, where I threw in some ideas of things we could do, and made an intros tab – conscious as I was that asking people to be accountable, when they’d never met, might be a little alien.

We created a WhatsApp chat group, to initiate some early conversations and to try and gauge opinions and brainstorm some ideas.

Then, eventually, Slack….lovely lovely Slack.


Slack? Don’t we already use that for other groups, like MoT?

Yes indeed, but Slack enabled us to have a smaller group, with the channels where we could dive deeper, where needed:

#blogs

Some of us already blog, some of us aspire to blog and all of us appreciate a good blog, so here is a place we have shared those.

#charterandorcoc

This channel was where we looked to initiate our charter and code of conduct. We should review and update as we go along.

#coffeecorner

This is my favourite channel. Some of my greatest conversations in the workplace have come over a cup of coffee (or similar). We have on a reasonably ad-hoc basis, had chats in coffee corner, where we have discussed all manner of things. I genuinely value those conversations.

#general

This is simply a general channel, does the job.

#helpchris

When I have problems that require a deeper dive, I created this channel and invited others to join in to discuss how they could be remedied.

#introductions

This was a rollover from the Google Sheets and WhatsApp group, where we introduced ourselves, and all answered the following question ‘how did you get into testing?’

#podcasts

Podcasts are a fantastic medium for testing input, we have shared some of our favourites in this channel. And some of us are famous enough to be included in future podcasts…..watch this space.

#random

Is a channel for random, of course.

#rants

Because we all need to let off some steam.

#testingpeersblog

The channel that birthed this blog post. We have a Trello board for blog post ideas and will look to either individually or collaboratively post some blogs that hopefully will be of use, and benefit not only to us, but the wider community.


Needless to say, this fledgling group of Testing Peers would be nothing if it were not for the contributions, buy-in, shared support and so much more of the other members.

I am truly grateful for this group, and am excited for what we might produce in the coming weeks, months, years and so on……….

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