The Coffee Cup is Mightier Than the Keyboard

T3     Start Time : 15:00     End Time : 15:45

This track-talk is about my experiences as, what James Bach calls, a social tester. Though my technical skills are excellent I have found that the excellence in my work is coming from my ability to build rapport with my co-workers and understanding how we humans communicate.

My view of the software we create is that it is sub systems of the system we humans build around us and thus the complexity of our developed code is only a sub complexity of the human complexity. I have found that a lot of the issues I face as a software tester are not because of the technical but of the human complexity. This affects how I work in my profession and I put a lot of energy in building relationships and on understanding the human system around me.

In this presentation I will focus on three experiences that have had big impact on how I work. Along with these experiences I will share practical results I´ve obtained from my relationship building but also some practical tips and tools.

The first experience is how I built a relationship with a developer on the other side of the world by using only a communicator and mail. While it’s tricky to build rapport when not having the opportunity to meet face to face it is very much doable but requires an active effort.

The second experience highlights the might of the coffee cup and how it can make you an unofficial leader. When starting on a new project I focused the first days on only talking and getting to know the people in the project. After four months I was leaving for another assignment and surprised the developers when they found out I was not the test lead. They became more confused when I pointed out the actual test lead.

The third and last experience is from an assignment where I came is as a project test lead, responsible for coordinating a very frustrated group of test leads. By applying system analysis I was able to better understand the situation and apply a constructive approach to sort out the situation.

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  • Speaker


    Martin Nilsson - Test Consultant, House of Test, Sweden

    Martin is a consultant at the firm House of Test. He started out his testing career working when applying by mistake for a position to test mobile platforms. He refers to this mistake as the best one he has made his in his professional life because working with testing has suited his temperament perfectly; he loves technology and he loves working with people. He has been through multiple different test assignments, from API testing on hardware level to test coordinator of a hundred testers but lately he has been teaching and developing the world’s first professional test education spanning one and a half year that is fully based on a CDT approach. At the moment he is on parental leave and develops his hobby to take photographs by snapping pics of his small kids when they are exploring and testing the world.