Uncharted Waters

July 17, 2019  7:51 PM

Consulting Commentary

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser
consultant, Consulting

Think ConsultingEvery few years there is a shift, where regular employees become consultants. Around fifteen years ago, it was frustrated employees becoming XP Coaches. Then it was employee to Scrum Master. Today people are moving toward “Agile Coaching.” I’m going to lump all these jobs into the space of consulting. On day one, the new shiny minted change-agents show up at the new job.

Then all hell breaks loose.

Two months later, over a beer at a local pub, the new consultant tells me a tale of woe. The tale usually begins with “it’s the strangest thing. You would think (thing one) and yet (thing two).”

Oddly it is often the same tale. At least, the same themes, over and over.

Here’s what to expect if you want to go consultant — and what to do about it.

Continued »

July 8, 2019  5:38 PM

How To Run Lean Coffee

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser

How to run Lean Coffee (Awesome Coffee is Awesome)If you want to get a group of new-to-each-other people to merge toward collaboration, I recommend lean coffee. If you want collective problem solving with no pre-planned agenda, based on the problems people bring and share, lean coffee is your jam. It can be done better or worse. Worse is fine, but better is fantastic.

It has been a pleasure of mine to present Lean Coffee at a few dozen events on a couple of continents.

Here’s how I do it. Continued »

June 20, 2019  9:39 AM

Removing bias from Katas

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser
Bias, Code

Katas with less biasHow do you an unbiased interview to find out if they can program?

No, not do they know a library, like selenium, or POI in Java to import Excel, or Cucumber, or Junit. I mean, can they actually take a problem and implement some code to solve that problem?

To do that, I used Katas.

It turns out that has problems. Continued »

June 18, 2019  10:11 AM

In Defense of FizzBuzz

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser
HR, Interviews

In Defense of FizzBuzzFizzBuzz is a classic programming challenge, or “Kata“, popularized by Jeff Atwood, that requires the test-taker to demonstrate simple concepts like looping and selection. If you are active in the software world, you may know that it was popular at one time and has faced increasing criticism. One explanation for the decline of FizzBuzz is simple evolution. People just learned better interview techniques. Where Fizzbuzz was once the best we knew, today we know better.

I don’t buy it.

The typical programming interview is repeating a list of technologies and yes or no answers. Some teams use a contrived google style tech interview where  navigate a binary tree.

A few companies do better, asking technical staff to pair, do TDD, or demonstrate expertise in other ways.

Here’s a way to do it with FizzBuzz.

Continued »

May 31, 2019  1:23 PM

Doing Better at Change Management

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser

GeePaw on changeIf you’ve been in software more than a few years, you have probably heard the announcement “from now on, all programming will be in (new_language)”, yet never heard any plans for the conversion. The idea is so naive  (do we rewrite all our existing applications?) yet too common.

Process changes are worse. I once had a manager declare that we would start doing ambiguity reviews for documents. From what I can tell, no one actually did the review. Ever. Not even the manager championing in the change as an example.

When I heard that GeePaw Hill was going to do a keynote on change for Agile&Beyond this week, I was encouraged.

GeePaw writes code. As a programmer’s programmer, he has managed to stay relevant in a 40+ year career. He blew me away.

Here are a few of his ideas. Continued »

May 29, 2019  6:50 PM

Make a change stick with six boxes

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser
Change management

Change a rocket with Duct TapeTwenty years ago, when a change program came in, it came in a three-ring binger. Today it is more likely to be a confluence page or a division-wide email. No matter the delivery format, they all seem to have about the same actual chance of making a lasting impact, somewhere between slim and nothing. I’m not trying to be down here. The effort to create the new program is usually noble. Most of these programs address real problems and organizational pain. We just can’t figure out how to make them stick.

Today I’ll talk about how to get there. Continued »

May 28, 2019  10:19 PM

A test tool secret

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser

Today I’m going to tell you a secret about testing tooling, a sort of truth. It’s a kind of truth like the knowledge a partner is cheating. You need to know it, but you’d rather not, and sometimes you’ll wish you could go back to ignorance.

It’s about those automated tests which that one tester is making, over in the corner. You know, the ones you make for every story, the ones that may or may not run under CI.

Your testers are skipping a ton of tests.

That is, of the list of flows to automate, there are a bunch they are … Just. Not. Doing.

And they are getting away with it. Continued »

May 14, 2019  10:26 PM

Serious Communication

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser
Communication, quality, Testing

Yesterday, on the twitters, I had this conversation about communication with Michael Bolton:

Communication With Michael Bolton


It’s a simple answer. It is an easy answer.

And yet, when the tester asks “What exactly do you mean by soak testing?” they are likely to get non-answers. The manager may at first act like the answer is obvious, that everyone knows what it is. Another common response is for them to say “You know, soak testing”, with a slight laugh, making it socially awkward for you to say “Oh course I don’t know, that is why I asked.” If you persist the manager may shift, to say that you, the tester, are the expert. If they are willing to admit they don’t know either, you get to go to the next level. At some point, someone becomes afraid of you talking to “their” customer, and the communication stops.

Now what?

After twenty years of doing this and helping others do it, I have developed a handful of tricks.

Read on, dear reader. Read on.

Continued »

May 8, 2019  2:31 PM

On Test Maturity

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser
Software testing, Testing

The work here is by no mean exhaustive. There is no mention of reporting or feedback or repeatability or training or process. It is simply how people think about risk.If you want to get better at software testing, you might start out looking for a test maturity model, maybe the one from the Illinois Institute of Technology that became the TMMi.

Wait! Before you click that link, stick around. I’ve got a better today.

Today I’m going to propose a way to think about tester maturity. One you can use to evaluate candidates, yourself, and yes, the overall culture of the organization. It is a model, which means it a general. All generalizations have exceptions. All generalizations are wrong. Still, if it can help you test better, interview better, hire better, then I would suggest that less wrong is better.

Here’s my proposal: A test maturity model that is less wrong. Continued »

April 25, 2019  7:31 PM

Regression Testing Redux

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser
Regression testing

This week I was at SauceCon, the annual conference for Sauce Labs. Sauce provides the grid (and cloud of mobile devices if you want them) to run selenium scripts on. Listening to a speaker talk about “testing” without drawing a distinction between regression testing and story-testing, I put out this tweet:Regression Testing

I know, I know, there are all kinds of testing, not just those two, how dare I forget about performance and security and so on. Here I am, being terrible, “just” talking about “functional” testing. Okay, fine, but not my point.

Today I just want to make two tiny distinctions, and explain why they are important.

Continued »

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