Nicky Tests Software: Reflecting on leading a Testing Community of Practice Part I

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Reflecting on leading a Testing Community of Practice Part I

For about 4-6 months, I have been leading the Testing Community of Practice at my current project. Before then there were 4 of us being co-leads (for 6 months ish) before I was approached to see if I wanted to drive it and be the lead. I said yes - and said I wanted to see if I was a good fit as a lead, if I had the energy/desire for it and if there was a need/desire for a Testing CoP in the first place.

Finding out what people expected from this Community of Practice

My first focus was to find out what people expected from a Community of Practice. I sent out some surveys to those already in the Testing slack channel, and had two discussion groups in our Malmö and Helsingborg offices.
The hard part was I already had my opinions already on what it was and what it would involve, so when I was holding these discussions I had to watch what I say, and how I say things, in an effort to not affect people's opinions.
The two main things people expected were to share information about testing with each other. Both with regards to how they test in their team and also to learn about new testing concepts and tools (new to them).

Getting people involved

While the majority of people expected information sharing and wanted to hear about how testing is done in other teams (we are in scrum teams distributed across two offices), people aren't exactly jumping up and down to share how they test in their team.
If I ask in a slack channel, "Does anyone have anything to share or want to share what they learned this week? Or a tool they are using?" then chances are I don't hear anything (it has happened, but very rarely).

I have found a much better approach to this is to approach people directly with what you have noticed about their skillset and ask if they wanted to talk about their experiences. It seems a lot of people don't realise that what they think is "easy" or "normal" or "not interesting to listen to" is actually something others would benefit hearing from.

Some upcoming sessions I'm really looking forward to in our Testing Community of Practice is on how one tester implemented and is using Cypress and how another one works with developers.


Figuring out if there's value in this, and if I'm adding value

This is a big one for me. At the start, I said yes, then said I wanted to see if I was a good fit as a lead, if I had the energy/desire for it and if there was a need/desire for a Testing CoP in the first place.

In terms of how testing is done in my project and what people want, part of me can't help but feel a little helpless. A very small minority tell me what they want/expect, and those same people share information about how they test in their team and new tools they use. I don't know what the majority wants and if they even care about links that are posted in the slack channel or automation workshops that I arranged with an automation teacher (he actually taught automation in a course before our current project) as I don't hear anything from a lot of people.

Another thing, there are less and less testers in my project. I'm seeing testers either being forced out or choosing to leave as they don't feel testing (and thus their skills) is valued anymore. And you know what - that sucks! Here I'm thinking is this Testing COP adding value? Am I adding value in this role?

The thing is, I have no "real authority" on this project or leadership title on this project (which is interesting considering it seems most people involved in testing at my project is a "Test Manager"). Therefore in terms of upskilling people or trying to inspire people to want to get involved and learn more I'm not sure how exactly I'm perceived by my peers.

Maybe I care too much? Maybe.
But if I realise that I'm feeling apathy, then that's almost a definite sign it's time for me to leave the project.


For Part II, go here.



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