Recently, I went to a QA focused small local conference as a speaker. Overall, the day was absolutely enjoyable. I’m posting about this day because of one specific conversation that really has sat with me in the weeks since the event.
The two of us were sitting near the back of a room for the final session of the day. The speaker had referred back to something an earlier speaker had said at the start of the day. Without hesitation, we both uttered something about that not being correct. We laughed and then verified that we both were thinking the same thing. (Side note: I did talk to the speaker and help correct the mistake).
After the session ended, we kept talking. I expressed that I was surprised by some of the knowledge shared being older (something I had been lucky to learn several years ago). Her quick response was QA is treated like second class citizens, so they don’t get training much. Personally, I’m not surprised by this statement. I’ve seen developers dismiss the specialization skills of QA. I’ve worked hard in leadership positions to bridge and unify collaborative teams. Yet, I think not being immersed in the QA environment recently allowed me to believe that this was getting better. And maybe overall it is but there is still quite a bit of angst.
As we kept talking and exploring why this was true, her disdain for all things Agile was expressed. This confused me because for me being Agile will help improve the very things she is upset about. So I asked questions. Her experiences and impressions from very bad coaches that responded with simply “you did it wrong” have completely soured her. And I can understand that, it would piss me off too. As I explained my perspective/intent of what Agile means for teams: that although the manifesto had been written by developers for developers, the heart of a growth mindset – value driven discovery – collaboration applies to anyone in empirical (knowledge-based) work. That in many ways those developers were focused on them but what they hit on applies to many situations (including no software at all environments). That Agile is not just frameworks and practices of doing Agile but changing and creating environments where value is king through motivated teams. And there is a lot of learning to truly accomplish that!
I shared with her my journey of learning and the difference in both my personal and professional life. She asked me if I thought I would have gotten to this place naturally regardless because I had interpersonal skills. I can’t rule it out, but I can say that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Success before being Agile meant – happy customers and individual recognition. Success after being Agile meant – growing people to achieve happy customers. This difference made me a leader. This difference achieved better results. This difference gave me a motivating purpose.
I hope I intrigued her enough to not have those experiences close off the possibility to help QA. She definitely helped me by sharing. This conversation has me pondering about the Agilists that are doing harm – that are being dismissive, condescending and/or judgmental…what happened to learning? Maybe it’s inevitable that for topics there will always be extremists – personally, my issue is that the extremists are the loudest voices heard. There are so many more of us that just want to help and open to adapting as each situation arises. So I’m left wondering, where else should I be a voice? I’ve been attending the same conferences for several years…and some I won’t give up. However, maybe it’s time to go to other conferences/groups. Maybe I could help reverse some bad coaching damage regarding Agile. Maybe I could help people know that not all devs (and former devs) think of QA as second class citizens. Maybe I could be making a bigger difference.
I’m still trying to process what and if I can help from this amazing conversation. Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts, impressions and concerns. They have had an impact, I’ll figure out how to have them make a difference.
What conferences/training/events would you recommend?
Your post is an interesting read. If you are wanting to change the world – it should not matter which conference or event you attend so long that you’re making a difference in the world around you like you’ve already done. If you are interested in some fun events – there is http://www.agilecamp.org. We have a pretty good time at these regional events.
Your comment is interesting as well. Thank you for the perspective check 🙂