Web Cowgirl 衛 思 維 (webcowgirl) wrote,
Web Cowgirl 衛 思 維
webcowgirl

StarEast 2010 day one - Randy Rice "Influential Test Team Leader" talk

These days so much of what I do has so very little to do with testing, or even knowing how to do testing, but rather with relationship building. This was basically confirmed as the right tack to take by Randy Rice's "Becoming an influential test team leader" talk today at StarEast. Well, he did say that you should know your technical stuff, but when we reviewed a list of 31 problems testers face, 95% of them were caused by human factors, so it seems that dealing with the people issues, i.e. convincing people that the thing you want them to do is worth the effort or the money, is really the thing to do.

Me, I've noticed that the higher up you go in the management tree, the less it matters whether or not you can do the testing; it starts to matter that you can manage the workload for your team and that you can get them the resources they need to do their job. They become your eyes and your arms and your legs; you have to use them to get the information you need and to accomplish the things expected of your department. But they need you to help them, by getting people to understand what they do, by planning ahead (further than "just the next project"), by getting them training, by making their jobs enjoyable if not by the nature of the work itself then by the support you give them and they give each other. Then of course you have the joy of doing things like reports and metrics, but, really, those are also tools you can use to help your team, and you need to embrace the fact that it's something you've got to do and you have to be responsible for. Maybe in some ways my whole career as a manager (or potential manager) started when I took that class Steve McConnell held on software project estimation, then came back and tried to figure out how to apply it to my work; suddenly I was able to give status reports in a way no one ever seemed to have done before, in terms of percentage completion of total test cases with nice linear charts showing where we should be and where we were. Before people just focused on how many bugs we were finding, but ... anyway, I loved the statistics and the measurement, which is a good thing given where I am now.

Ahem. At any rate, Randy focused on things like "understanding your team's training needs," "selling your message," "developing your team," etc. We had a lot of fun solving each other's problems; I had one girl tell me I'd done such a good job of building someone up that I should be a motivational speaker. (Gosh, heck!) I also talked to Randy a little bit about getting a paper together for next year; I am interested in talking about "growing your team's leaders" but he suggested I should figure a way to measure it. Ooh, a challenge! And I left with all sorts of ideas about helping to train the leads I already have, but also for some stuff for the rest of the team to make the job better and help me do my work more effectively (by better understanding my team).

In between I managed to stop by a class on "Becoming a Trusted Advisor to Senior Management" and get the notes; chat with fellow tea fan Nicole on the quality of tea provided (Revolution teas, individual boxes with cloth bags and whole leaf, really top notch, sadly missing from first coffee break when I needed it most); and get in a long visit with Stephanie from Pop (back in Seattle) over lunch. This was all fun and energizing and good consolation for the crap start of the day, when I discovered the conference was not at the Rosen Center hotel I'd booked my crummy hotel room nearby; rather, it was at a different Rosen Center ("Shingle Creek," sounds like a disease) two miles and $10 in cab fare away. Grrrr, not pleased to start 20 minutes late (at least ten of which was just in walking the immense distance from the entrance of the hotel to the registration desk and then halfway back to where the actual lecture hall was - the place is a barn). I guess when I said I was going to go nuts before I left for this thing I was right in this respect: I did drop a few balls due to juggling too damned much.

Anyway, back home and my sis and niece and I went out first for a little shopping (Ann Taylor: love the suits, not feeling so great about dropping $200 to buy one; $10 silk shirt much more my speed) then to eat dinner at Numero Uno Cuban Restaurant, which beat the pants off of the massively overpriced Cuba Libre restaurant we walked to Saturday night and had utterly fantastic food to boot and super friendly service. They gave Dawn some free fried banana and a bit of toasted bread with butter. She spent the time not really wanting to eat anything but then stomping around and chewing on a butter holder and finally flirting with the men who came in the restaurant, one of whom was teaching her to blow kisses IT WAS TOO FUNNY. She got quite screechy - best guess was teething - and we high tailed it back to the hotel, where I'm now sitting typing this in the dark so as not to wake Dawn up (and my sis is taking advantage of the peace and quiet to take a bath). They're off tomorrow, and I'll be settling in to Day Two of Star East and "Essential Test Management and Planning." With luck I'll try to set up to have dinner with lastwordy_mcgee's mom tomorrow, but I won't be able to set it up until later - at worst, hopefully she'll be free on Wednesday. She seemed like such a nice lady and full of that Lastwordy charm - I'd really enjoy having some time to hang out with her!
Tags: orlando, qa geekery, stareast
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