Changing Mindsets – Learn, Test, Lead [by Example]

W9     Start Time : 12:00     End Time : 12:45

WATCH: Alex’s preview of his talk

I often hear people complain about situations, and when they are asked why they don’t do anything about them, they say that there’s nothing they can do. It’s the others that can / have to fix the problems. Not them. Specifically, one aspect that I often hear testers complain about, is that the tester is being seen as the inferior species in the software development environment. When I ask them why they don’t do anything to change this view in their company / project, I get the answer that the managers / developers need to change for this to be fixed. 6 years ago I began a journey to change the mindset on testing, which started with changing my own.

My talk is about how I, together with my business partners, managed to change our mindset on testing, to escape the ISTQB land and discover a world full of learning opportunities. It’s about how we managed to create an environment where our colleagues feel good about what they do, want to improve their testing skills and don’t think to change their career in the next 3 years. Our road was not at all smooth. To give just one example, when we thought we had started quite well, in one month we lost 75% of our team. This made us redefine how we hired people, how we trained them and how we worked with them. It also allowed us to learn that sometimes it’s better to let people go.

Another important aspect of this journey is how we went beyond our office walls and, together with some fellow testers, started a community for testers in Romania. A place where people can learn from each other, where they can speak up, where they can get feedback from their peers. We started by organising 4 one day peer conferences in the 4 main IT towns in Romania, and tried to plant the community seed. And then we left each seed germinate at its own pace. When they felt ready to flower, we offered support and then allowed them to grow in their own rhythm.

In a little over two years, we managed to build an active community in a country that is community averse – 45 years under communism can lead to what I’d call strange behaviours: we received messages from managers that told us they will not allow their employees to take part in such meetings because they feared they would be recruited by another company. Currently monthly meetings are organised in each of the 4 towns with various presentations, exercises, hands-on events, all related to testing. Besides that, community members organise from time to time elaborated workshops on technical topics.

This is a story about how I’ve started on this road by working on changing my own mindset and continued by forming a testing community open to learning, where other testers can experience the change themselves as well.

  • Speaker

  • Alex Rotaru - , Altom Consulting, Romania

    For the past 6 years I’ve been working with Altom Consulting, a Software Testing Consultancy company based in Romania. Being a small company, my role and tasks vary a lot. I work as a test engineer / test lead at customer’s site on fixed length projects, I do administrative tasks, I do interviews and training sessions, I interact a lot with current and potential clients to try to understand their needs and problems. This makes it a great learning experience!

    When I attended CAST in 2011 I loved the idea of an active testing community and the LAWST format. So, at the end of August that year, together with a friend, we decided to focus on reaching testers in four different towns in Romania by organising one-day Peer Conferences. This was a big effort, but I think it finally paid off: we were able to find passionate testers in each location that are willing to organise monthly meetings where people can talk about testing.

    The fact that I interact a lot with clients through my role at Altom and with actual testers through the testing community allows me to get a better view on how testing is seen both from the outside and form the inside. This also gives me the unique opportunity to reach both ends in order to change their mindset on software testing.