Tag Archives: #esconfs

The Testers Toolbox – Seven Powerful Cognitive Techniques

aka 7 Things You Might Not Know – (But May Find Really Useful)


This workshop will take you on a magical journey through some very useful but mostly unknown tools for perception and comprehension which will aid you in your daily testing life.

Building on the Graham’s previous work in the field, and his the enthusiasm for the subject, this workshop will you on a 90-minute journey of mind opening discovery, looking at 7 key but often overlooked tools.

Stroop effect

Stroop effect

The tools, and their techniques are easy, fun to learn, and very powerful to use. And they will help you in mastering testing in the industry’s currently very demanding transition from that of a structured V-model history to a leaner, more agile and exploratory approach.

The seven techniques that will be covered in the workshop are:

Gall-Peters Projection – a different but more accurate way to look at the world
Popper’s Theory of Testability – a powerful tool to scope testing
Mind Control – finally proof that your mind is not you own!
The Stroop Effect – a powerful mechanisms that can control your behaviour
The Necker Cube – what you see is not what I see!
The Spinning Dancer – the whole may look different to the detail
e-prime – how to communicate experience rather than judgement

The workshop will explain each technique through demonstration and interaction, followed by a discussion of the power of the technique and an insight into its most effective use.

The session will be highly interactive, directly involving the delegates in all of the exercises to give them a first-hand experience of each technique that they will be able to take back to their workplace.


PowerPoint NeckerCubeSmall      pdf

Presented at:

1. UK TMF, London, Apr 2010 (Workshop)
2. BCS SIGiST, London, Sep 2010 (Workshop)
3. EuroSTAR, Copenhagen, Dec 2010 (Workshop)


The UK TMF workshop was co-hosted with Isabel Evans – Find out more about Isabel here.

Program Test Management – A Survival Kit

(aka Testing in large programs)


Using practical experience from several large testing programs this presentation will illustrate effective techniques for successful Program Test Management, presented in the form of A Survival Kit.

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife

Why is this needed?  Well although the role of Program Test Manager is now firmly established in the sphere of testing, generally in large test organisations or on large many 10s or 100s of millions of dollar value programs, there isn’t a clear view of what the role is, how to perform it, or what success looks like.

Should the Program Test Manager be an über-manager in control of everything, or is this role more of an aggregation and reporting function? This presentation will look at the expectations for the role, and how these can be markedly different.

It also shares the critical factors for successful program test management, including oversight of the testing products and deliverables; matrix management of test managers; stakeholder, milestone, resource, and dependency management; and the softer but vital skills of influence and negotiation with very senior managers.

The talk will be illustrated by examples from real life, relating experience gained on several large testing programs which build into a practical model (or survival kit), easily understood by all, covering the key test management areas of organization, people, process, tools, and metrics—that your organization can adapt for its needs.

The delegates will be able to take away;

1) Effective techniques for Program Test Management,
2) Hard won lessons learnt from practical experience, and
3) A practical model (A Survival Kit) for Program Test Management.


PowerPoint          Webinar  EuroSTAR Webinar (Test Huddle logon required)

Presented at:

1. StarWEST, Anaheim – Sep 2008
2. EXPO’QA:09, Madrid, Oct 2009
3. EuroSTAR, Stockholm, Dec 2009
4. EuroSTAR, Webinar, Mar 2010

The EuroSTAR Testing Quiz

EuroSTAR 2008 was in Den Haag, the home town of conference chair Bob van de Burgt.

At the previous EuroSTAR, 2006, in Stockholm, Bob had asked me to join his program committee and help put together the conference. I of course said yes. There was one other request, that Geoff and I give another Quiz show.

That was more problematic because we had announced our retirement . . . but after a bit of persuasion we agreed.

We were struggling for a new format, having already done Weakest Link, Mastermind, and Test the Nations.  We didn’t have any technology this time either. So we decided to pit a team from of Benelux All Stars against a UK Challengers team !!!   We also decided to make this a quiz of quizzes. So included Millionaire, paying homage to David Hayman who first ran the game at EuroSTAR in Copenhagen. Weakest Link, where we voted off one contestant from each team, and a round of Call My Bluff – worth it for the theme music alone.

It turned out that the Benelux All Stars took it all rather more seriously than the UK challengers, no surprise there then, and they ran out worthy winners – with more money given to charity. Embarrassment and shame befell the UK challengers – You know who you are.

The EuroSTAR Testing Quiz

The EuroSTAR Testing Quiz

Had we known beforehand how much effort it was going to be, to do 5 different quiz formats in one, we would have done something simpler.  Retirement from Quiz Shows was reconfirmed and permanent.

Presented at:

1. EuroSTAR 2008, Den Haag, Nov 2008.

Test The EuroSTAR Nations

When Geoff and I had the initial discussion at the UK Testing Retreat about The Weakest Testing Link Stuart Reid asked why we weren’t doing a variant on Test The Nation.  I think at the time we said it was too hard, would require too much technology, and couldn’t be done at a testing conference.

Stuart was chair of EuroSTAR 2007, and he decide that it could be done!  He arranged for each member of the audience to have a handset which they could use for direct audience feedback.

On the Wednesday there were two interactive sessions. Early afternoon a survey session run by Dot Graham and Mark Fewster, and in the evening, Test the EuroSTAR Nations run by Geoff Thompson and myself.

Well done to Stuart for arranging the technology. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite that easy for the presenters. In the months preceding the conference Geoff and I and several meetings with the  company that supplied the technology.  We built a quiz slide deck, then waited to integrate it with the handset technology. And waited. And waited.  Finally on the day of the ‘show‘ we met the person who was running things behind the scenes.  And had one, yes just one, run through of the technology before we went live.

Geoff also wanted to walk up to the stage and arrive at exactly the moment that Thin Lizzy hit ‘The Boys Are  Back In Town‘.  It worked a treat.

Test The EuroSTAR Nations

Test The EuroSTAR Nations

It had been hard work, quite stressful, but great fun.  After 3 quiz shows Geoff and I decided to retire and let someone else take up the reigns.

Presented at:

1. EuroSTAR 2007, Stockholm, Dec 2007.

Grand Testing Master Theory – A Workshop


Recent research has shown that when a chess Grand Master is briefly shown a chess board, and then asked an hour later to remember the position of the pieces on the board, that they can do so with a surprisingly high degree of accuracy.

Chess BoardWhat the research has discovered is that when a chess Grand Master looks at the board, they don’t recognise the positions of the individual pieces, but that they remember clusters of pieces. So they would remember a cluster around the King, around the Queen, and other key pieces. The best remember clusters that overlap and can show them the whole board. With that understanding of the cluster, and a great level of experience the Grand Master can also work out how the pieces came to be in that position by predicting the moves with a high degree of accuracy.

This is in comparison to beginners or less experienced chess players who remember the individual pieces or maybe smaller clusters, but not the whole board, and then can not work out the preceding moves.

Sounds very interesting but how can the theory be applied to Software Testing?

Mind Mapping is a process that many of us are familiar with, and is well suited for representing clustered information. The aim is to run a workshop with experienced testers, such as those that attend EuroSTAR, to produce Software Testing Mind Maps that cluster together their knowledge of testing and the relationships between the testing entities. In this way an overlapping model can quickly be built up that shows the key relationships between the areas of the testing discipline.

This can be shared and validated with others, and can be extremely useful, especially for testers just starting out in the industry because they will have a representation of the software testing world which will show them for each area not only the things they already know, but many of the other things to consider as well.  This may also be useful in diagnosing problems, understanding the current situation, and planning the next steps forward.

This is the first step in getting many testers to produce individual Testing Mind Maps which can then be brought together to add to the Software Testing Body Of Knowledge which will have use for the whole industry.

Participants should be prepared for this session to be; informative, fun, challenging & rewarding, with the very real possibility of benefiting the whole testing industry.


PowerPoint      MindMap

Presented at:

1. EuroSTAR, Stockholm – Dec. 2007

Testing Mastermind

In 2006, not fully understanding how difficult it had been successfully to run a game show, live, Geoff (Thompson) and I thought that we would give it another go. However we had to change the format, and do something new.

We had a think and came up with Testing Mastermind. Only this time, we would run the game from one PC, and network in the presenters PC.  A simple architecture, fraught with many dangers. Plus we had a Black Chair.

It wasn’t until we were actually at Manchester that we got the game controller and quiz masters PCs talking to each other.   When we tested this out on the conference stage, surprise, surprise, it didn’t work. Overnight the stage hands had to take up the floor and run a network cable from the pedestal to the desk.

It wasn’t until the morning of the day that we found out that our network arrangement actually worked.

Testing Mastermind EuroSTAR 2006, Manchester

Testing Mastermind EuroSTAR 2006, Manchester

The game itself was cracking fun.  It is amazing the power that the Mastermind Black Chair has over people. With the contestants struggling to answer even simple questions when put under an admittedly a very bright spotlight.

Fran O’hara was the eventual winner after a tight battle with Tim Koomen.  Thanks also go to Neil Thompson and Paul Gerrard for being brave enough to take part. And €500 was donated by the organisers to a charity of the winners choosing.

Geoff and I vowed not to do another quiz.

Presented at:

1. EuroSTAR 2006, Manchester, Dec 2006.

Aligning Development And Testing Lifecycles


The first objective of a test strategy is to align the testing activities with the development activities. It’s obvious really, but sometimes hard to do. In fact, it seems to be getting much harder recently with the advent of iterative and agile development lifecycles – hasn’t it?

Developers change their development approach in order to be more efficient and effective (and ‘up-to-date’). But testers and their approach haven’t kept pace. While the developers have changed their methods, by adopting an iterative or agile approach for example, the test team will probably be used to a more traditional, structured, V-Model approach.

It’s no surprise that testing and development activities aren’t aligned.

This session will take a look at traditional (structured), iterative (RAD) and agile (incremental) development lifecycles and their associated testing lifecycle counterparts.


PowerPoint  (Animated)    PowerPoint Print  (Animated)

Presented at:

1. TMF, London – July 2006     (Preparatory discussion group)
2. SSQC 2007, London – Oct 2006
3. EuroSTAR, Manchester – Dec 2006

The Weakest Testing Link

In 2005 I was having a discussion at the UK Testing Retreat asking why it would not be possible to run a Weakest Link Quiz at the EuroSTAR conference.  A fun session with an edge.  We could get Testing ‘Experts‘ from across Europe and pit them against each other, answering ‘testing‘ questions, with the prize of giving money to charity.

The only taker that I had from the discussion was my good friend Geoff Thompson.  We wrote an abstract, and when accepted, started our preparation to host the game show.

We thought that this would be run in a back room somewhere, a little bit of fun. By the time we arrived in Copenhagen we found out that we would be on the main stage, giving the closing ‘fun‘ keynote on the Wednesday evening.

Undeterred, even by the fact that many testing ‘experts’ turned down the offer to appear live in the quiz, we gave it a go. And the rest is history . . . . . .


The photo doesn’t quite show how bright the stage lights were in the auditorium.  We could not see into the audience at all. When the contestants all got their easy introduction question wrong, and the place was totally silent, Geoff and I thought it was going to be a difficult evening!

Finally someone got a question right, and 500+ people applauded. 40 fun filled minutes later, like when the panel voted off Geoff, the Question Master,  Dot Graham won the quiz becoming the Testing ‘Strongest‘ Link. The prize money went to the DEC in aid of the 2004 Asian Tsunami victims.

(Geoff and I would like to thank Paul, Erkki, Mark, Dot, Tim and Stuart for taking part.)

Presented at:

1. EuroSTAR 2005, Copenhagen, Dec 2005.

7 Key Measures For Software Testing


I recently came across the worst example of software test measurement that I had seen in over 20 years experience of IT!

Part of the problem comes from the fact that there isn’t a standard set of measures, so should we actually get upset when software testers measure the wrong thing, in the wrong way, and then report it badly? Actually no! Not until there is a standard definition for software test measurement and reporting.

So there is the challenge for this presentation. To present a standard set of measures, metrics and reports for software testing so that there can no longer be any excuse.

This presentation proposes 7 key measures across the software testing lifecycle, covering; Planning, Risk, Test Preparation, Test Execution and Defect analysis. The presentation will also identify effective ways to present the 7 key measures in the form of a practical model.


PowerPoint      Excel

Presented at:

1. ICS Test UK, London – Sep 2005
2. UKSMA, London – Oct 2005
3. BCS SIGiST, London Jul 2006     Gold Star  Best Presentation Award 2006

A Practical Model For Program Test Management


After you have been working successfully for a while as a test manager the next challenge that you are asked to take on is the role of Program Test Manager. Quickly you begin to realise that programs of work are different from projects. Programs are larger, involving multiple streams of work, some of which contain many individual projects. There are more people involved, developers and testers, each with differing objectives, and different ways of working. The teams are often global, the budgets large, $100m+, and the pressures larger.

This talk proposes a practical model for program test management, based on experience gained from working as a Program Test Manager on two programs, in the financial sector handling card authorisation and in service delivery, addressing global customer service management.

The talk is focussed on how to bring together the disparate streams of development and testing across large programs so that they can work together successfully and drive the program forward. It also addresses how to control quality when, as a program test manager, you no longer carry out development or testing activities. This is presented in the form of a practical model working step-by-step through the development lifecycle.


PowerPoint      MindMap

(Mind Map courtesy of Paul Gerrard and the TMF)

Presented at:

1. UK TMF, London – April 2004      (Preparatory discussion group)
2. EuroSTAR, Cologne – Dec 2004
3. BCS SIGiST, London – Mar 2005