"Some birds aren't meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright"- Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption. This blog is from one such bird who couldn't be caged by organizations who mandate scripted software testing. Pradeep Soundararajan welcomes you to this blog and wishes you a good time here and even otherwise.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How Pradeep teaches software testing - Part 2

I just hope you all read Part 1 of this series. Now, I bring to you Part 2 where I talk about my journey of my first set of workshops.

In 2007, I was not sure if people would be willing to listen to my ideas in testing. I had some good readership for my blog and I announced 2 hour free talk on exploratory testing titled Mirchi Test Masala. Mirchi in Hindi means "spicy" and I wanted to offer the Indian Spicy Testing flavor during my talk. By God's grace, I was flooded with interest from my blog readers to host me for this talk at their organizations.

I happened to be invited in companies like Dell, Huawei, Celstream, Ionidea, Hasten Technologies and even at an organization in Chennai. There were few more organizations who happened to invite me a couple of months later looking at the blog post. I forgot some of their names. It could have been big or small ones.

This was an opportunity for me to test my public speaking skills, my ability to coach testers and also a test of how influential I could be to testers. I used a bug in Microsoft Powerpoint 2003 as an exercise to drive certain points to the audience and help them see testing as an exploration than merely test case execution.

This also gave me an opportunity to face some tough questions from audience and there was a stiff resistance to my ideas. Being an outspoken context driven tester in India wasn't one bit easy. There was a huge wave against the ideas I was trying to spread. Whatever resistance I faced didn't matter much because people saw an extreme passion for testing in me and they were acknowledging it well. That was a huge boost to my confidence that I can actually do a full day workshop.

I guess in early 2007, Michael Bolton did a Rapid Software Testing training for a client in Bangalore. That client had chosen a venue for coaching which was "rent a training room" types. I decided that I should do my first workshop in the same place because the vibrations that Michael left there would help me boost my confidence. I payed a lot of money to book the same room. That is where I did my first workshop on Exploratory Testing.

I was surprised (yeah, I was) that there were about 17 people who were willing to pay as much as 3500 INR for a day to get trained by me. I guess I paid more than half of that money on rental of the training room but I was happy. I don't distribute feedback forms because I believe the actual feedback is when people go back to their workstations and test out the new ideas.

Somehow, people were convinced that I was giving them a different perspective. My workshop was mostly hands on. Minutes before I started my workshop I pinged Michael and said, "I need your blessings on this important day in my life. I am nervous" and he replied, "Are you an expert presenter?" and I answered, "No". He then said this great thing, "Well then pretend to be an expert presenter". That helped me so much that I pretended to be an awesome presenter. Over the years, I have developed a stage presence that audience have loved it in most occasions.

What I seemed to gain is many different ways to run the same exercise. However, my audience were my asset. They asked so many questions to me that helped me do a lot better thinking to help them learn what they wanted to. Sometimes I appear to people as the king of analogy and examples. I connect with my audience well because there were my audience of past who taught me so much about how to do it and how many different ways I could fail trying to give an analogy.

There is at least one good thing I tell in all my workshops: If you want to disagree with what I am saying and stay silent just because you don't care about me, you are killing the testing community indirectly. I am going to be doing these workshops to many other testers and I don't want to keep telling stupid stuff to them, so please help me.

That statement has helped some people tell me where I am bad and where I need to do better. After I engage them in a conversation and if I was convinced about it, I made necessary changes.

A big thank you to all those who attended my first set of workshops. You made this guy grow in confidence and helped him learn how bad he is and how good he needs to get. The most useful feedback has mostly not been on feedback forms.