What can we learn about testing from our pets? #EuroTestConf open space


DonkeysAt European Testing Days 2018, Marit van Dijk and Lanette Creamer prompted me to do an open space session on what I learned from testing from my donkeys. It turned out really fun! I’ve learned so much from my donkeys about the importance of trust, and the value of joy.

When it was time to propose Open Space topics at European Testing Days 2019, I couldn’t resist proposing a similar, though more inclusive, topic: What can we learn from testing from our pets?

Several people showed up for the session, including Marit! Unfortunately I didn’t write down who all was there, and though I can see some of their faces in my mind, I can’t recall the names offhand. (If you’re reading it and you were there, please ping me!) We had some really awesome insights!

Learning new tricks

Our dogs can show us how to practice finding treats from scent, which is not always obvious! This reminds me of something Anne-Marie Charrett mentioned at the exploratory testing peer workshop that followed the conference – “Describe what you see in as many ways as you can”. We can use so many of our senses and skills to notice weird things about how features behave.

Pets have empathy, a trait all team members need. Someone recounted how when she was a teenager, she felt, “nobody understands me!” But then she saw her dog, who seemed to be saying, “I do!” We need empathy to collaborate with our team members as well as to consider using our application as our customers do.

Fresh air

Our dogs, donkeys and other pets get us up and active and outside! The benefits of taking a walk are scientifically proven. We talked about pomodoros, Even though I’m more productive when I use pomodoros, I struggle with the discipline to do them. Having a pomodoro buddy can help. Even if you aren’t working on the same thing, you can follow the same pomodoro schedule – work for 25 minutes, then get up and MOVE for 5 minutes! I guarantee, you will accomplish so much more.

The last entry in my notes from this session reads: “GitFlow – cupcakes, kittens”. I have no idea anymore what that meant! If you have pets, or children, observe them and see what they might have to teach you about testing, or life in general. Whatever happens, they will make you smile.

Did anything stick for me?

Yes! Since returning from Spain, I’ve done some pomodoro pairing with Janet Gregory. We aren’t working on the same things and we aren’t even in the same time zone, but Janet is so disciplined at setting her timer, and getting up and moving when it’s time for a break. As expected, I’m much more productive when I do pomodoros. AND I’ve been getting out and walking more, even if it’s just out to the barn to hug a donkey.

Empathy was a topic in multiple sessions and it’s something I want to have more of. At least I’ve been more conscious of the need, and I’ve been reining in my automatic response to judge. If you have any tips for building empathy, please share.

The need to practice our testing skills – I’ve agreed with that idea for a long time but I’m also guilty of not practicing enough. I want to find someone to pair up for that too. So many fun things to learn and improve, never enough time, but I can enjoy the journey anyway!

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