Thursday, February 25, 2021

Creating the Space for People to Learn Together

A few weeks ago, a colleague reached out to me. They looked for input on how to make a new approach successful within their domain. They knew I experimented a lot with various collaborative approaches in teams. Therefore, they asked me for advice and ideas how they could set things up in a way that teams have a fun time, people learn together, and the whole thing has a chance to become successful. Today I learned that the input was valuable to them and they included it in their concept, so I decided to share it publicly as well. Please note that I've learned a lot of this from other people who added to my own experience, like Maaret Pyhäjärvi and Woody Zuill, so lots of credit go to them.


The most important thing I learned from enabling people to learn together: creating a safe and inclusive space for learning is crucial. This starts with inviting everyone in at times they can make (considering people like parents or caretakers have a difficult life to balance and we all have a pandemic ongoing, too) and making a point everyone is welcome, no matter who they are or what they bring to the table. When we're learning together we will have to show what we know and especially what we don't know yet (yet!). This can trigger lots of uncomfortable feelings, especially if you're not used to learning together (and most of us grew up in systems where learning together was rather discouraged and this runs deep) and if you're likely to fail. Failure is part of learning (love the acronym FAIL - first attempt in learning), yet many of us first need to unlearn that failure is a bad thing per se. Make it clear it's okay to be uncomfortable, it's okay to fail and learn from it; it's not okay to make it unsafe for people to feel uncomfortable.

One way to set the scene is to set some ground rules we all agree on before starting, making them bilateral. I love the guidelines and principles I learned from ensemble programming (formerly known as mob programming), which I use in many of my workshops. See also my Miro board to introduce the ensemble approach.

  • You're in the right place if you're either contributing or learning.
  • You have two ideas what to do next or more? Bias to action, try them out both. It's a good idea to try out the one from the more unexperienced person first.
  • Use the rule from improvisational theater: "yes, and ..."; don't destroy each other's ideas but build upon each other's ideas.
  • We cannot know where people are coming from, so let's treat each other with kindness, consideration and respect.

An additional way to create a safe space is to be vulnerable ourselves, especially if we're holding a privileged position (e.g. as facilitators, hosts, experts, experienced persons). If we show it's fine to say we don't know, we're curious to learn, we learn from everyone (no matter how unexperienced they are), we set the stage and evolve the culture we want to see. Small things matter, language matters a lot. For example: "Oh you don't know that?! Everyone knows that." or "Oh but that's easy." - these messages can come across belittling and hence can cause harm. Instead we can say: "Great, here's a learning opportunity! I offer to walk you through."

To make group sessions more inclusive, be sure to hold space for all kinds of people and balance their speaking time. Loud voices that frequently talk need to learn to hold back and create space for others, quiet voices need to get the space to contribute and learn that they are welcome to do so as well. Observing communication patterns and dynamics can help immensely; some groups need more facilitation from outside, others already learned to be balance this out themselves better. Language plays an important role here as well. Make an active effort to avoid stereotypes and use neutral language (e.g. gender-neutral language; no matter the group you're working with).

To make a learning session fun and energizing, it's best to make it as hands-on as possible for everyone. We all learn in different ways, yet for work related scenarios, hands-on learning is so far the best approach I've experienced with groups. To make things hands-on, it's a good idea to take turns at the keyboard. Beware that this can be a very uncomfortable situation for some people, yet if it's safe the learning effect is massive. Also, it will allow facilitators to observe where people stumble, where they lack local setups and tooling, where they find new approaches, if they understood what the group is up to, to uncover implicit knowledge, and more. To facilitate this remotely, either work on something everyone has the same access to and they can switch easily so screen sharing alone works, or stay on the same computer and share screen control.

Be intentional about how the group navigates, i.e. who knows the next step to go, who keeps the big picture in mind. Whoever navigates has to think and speak out loud, and practice how to communicate well. They explain the intention behind the next steps; if that does not help yet, then location and details can help; yet the intention why we go this step is crucial for learning and sharing the mental model. If you combine the navigator role with being at the keyboard (usually called the driver), this can be a lot of cognitive load for this person and all others might easily loose track. If you split this task from the keyboard and have the driver taking instructions and taking care of implementation details while the rest of the group navigates, this can work well in mature teams where they learned not to speak over each other and give each other space; yet people new to this might not do too well. If you have the driver at the keyboard and another person practicing the navigator role, taking input and suggestions from the rest of the group, people have a good chance to learn together. At first this might feel artificial and slower, yet it allows for more thoughtful thinking, clearer communication and deeper learning. Things will speed up naturally. Having an expert on the group who knows a lot more than others (might be you), you can consider to take over navigation from time to time to unblock the group; yet you can also consider to navigate the navigator instead of navigating yourself, which is once again a learning opportunity for them.

Making things fun is a tricky thing. Learning itself can be fun already, learning together with great people as well, just as solving a tricky problem. So might be that fun evolves naturally given the structures you provide. One approach you can try in addition is to gamify the session, especially if you'd like to run more of them. However, beware not to make this competitive and compare people within the team or teams with other teams. Instead, have the whole team work together on a goal (as they're also supposed to in the real case), and measure something that matters to the group (they can set their goal themselves so they have a say and are invested). After the first session they then have historical data they can compare themselves to after the second session. We can only compare ourselves to ourselves in the past as no one else shares the same context; and if we do so we can make our own learning more visible and tangible. After all, practice does make all of us better.

A few more things: it's a good idea to start with why we do this, why it's an important investment, what's the desired outcome. Make it clear this is part of work as learning time is part of working time. Depending on the length of the session, allow for good recreational breaks where they are not supposed to work on anything else but take a real break for body and mind. Depending on the length, allowing snacks might help as well (especially as people have different eating habits and needs).

Hope this helps. :)

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Ensemble Is the New Mob

Back in 2017, my team gave "mob programming" a try, a collaborative approach to product development that was new to us back then. We made really good experiences so that I started to spread the word and introduced more teams and people at my company to this social approach. I started giving workshops and talks about it, I initiated cross-team groups learning together using this approach, I enjoyed any opportunity in my free time where I could hone my skills in a group, I even joined the program team for the Mob Programming Conference to get practitioners together and gain new ones. Always talking about a mob, only interchanging the activity depending on where our focus was: mob programming, mob testing, mob documentation writing, mob presentation crafting, and so on.

Over the years, the concept became more known across teams at my company. Mental models of what it entailed differed, yet people acknowledged that solo work or pairing weren't the only options, they realized you can also get work done synchronously in a group setting. They saw benefits and several people built upon the idea and tried the approach in various contexts, from learning settings to solving a real problem at hand, from on demand initiatives to a full time working mode.

Beginning of February, one colleague from another team shared an observation with me. They noticed I was speaking about an "ensemble" these days instead of the "mob". They were curious to learn about the background of this switch and if both terms referred to the same approach. It really made me smile - what a great learning opportunity! For everyone who might have had the same question, here's what I answered.

Both terms "ensemble" and "mob" refer to the same approach. People had been looking for a replacement term for many years to get rid of the negative connotations of the "mob" which was perceived as problematic. Many people had been appalled by the term "mob" and hence didn't want to give it a try. Thinking of bullying or lynch mobs, the term is triggering trauma. Since last year we now finally have a new term that's a lot more inclusive: the ensemble. It's already been taken up and lived by many leading experts like Emily Bache and Lisa Crispin. The term was found by Maaret Pyhäjärvi and Denise Yu and you can read more about the origins in Maaret's blog post introducing the ensemble.

Personally, I made the switch in September 2020 when giving my talk "A Story of Mob Programming, Testing, and Everything" (nowadays "A Story of Ensemble Programming, Testing, and Everything") for the Agile Testing Days webinar series. This is the talk where you can hear my own take on why the terms you choose are impactful and how changing our language can reduce harm.

Inside my company, I haven't been actively advertising the term switch. I just continuously used ensemble as the new one; sometimes adding "formerly known as mob" to make it easier for people to know which approach I was referring to. Given this, I was really happy when my colleague asked me about the term ensemble, appreciated my explanation, and shared they will introduce the new term to their team in which they frequently use the approach.

Language allows us to express ourselves, and it shapes the understanding of our world. Language matters. Changing my language to the term ensemble is a little thing to do for me and matters a lot to someone else (kudos to Gitte Klitgaard for such wisdom). So, ensemble it is.

Monday, February 8, 2021

On Writing

The last years taught me that writing supports my thinking process. It's helping me both reflect and craft something new. I'm writing things down as they come, making my thoughts tangible and visible so I can iterate on them more easily and also spot patterns I might have missed otherwise. I see this when taking notes in meetings, when preparing for conversations, when facilitating workshops - nearly everywhere. Visualizations help me with this as well, yet I find myself drawn to words in the first place.

Beginning of last year, I started journaling at work, writing down everything that I felt was noteworthy for the day, that kept my mind busy, that inspired me, that triggered new insights. I'm gaining a lot of value out of the process of taking these notes and having them as a reference. They allow me to free my mind by offloading some thoughts, they show me on hindsight what worked and what not and how I felt in certain situations. They are the source of new ideas.

While I wrote a lot more at work, I did not blog too much. Well, last year was a different year for everyone, so maybe I shouldn't interpret too much into it. Yet the observation stays: I journaled more in private, I blogged less publicly. That doesn't mean there wasn't anything to write about, I have lots of topics that still wait to be composed into a blog post.

Another observation is that lately I blogged more on personal challenges. Well, last year I stopped my personal challenge in favor of a way more important topic. So, I mainly stopped writing blog posts as well, besides a few exceptional ones.

And then there's the fact that I have a tendency to write lengthily walls of text. I write blog posts mainly for my own learning, yet this tendency oftentimes makes me feel sorry for those taking the time to read through them and hoping it was worth their time. Yet as soon as I start writing, it's hard to stop and shorten the text, make it more concise and more easily digestible. Mostly it takes more energy from me to cut things down than to write them.

In addition, last year had a toll on everyone. As I'm very privileged I was surprised to see the impact it had on me as well; I cannot even begin to fathom what it still means to others, and how life is right now for people. One thing that showed for me was the reduced amount of energy available. While taking everything a bit slower after a time when I constantly overdid things was a good idea, I nowadays still don't have the same capacity back as before. Any kind of little thing like receiving yet another message adds to my mental load and on some days, they simply feel so overwhelming that I procrastinate with responding while feeling bad about it. Note to self: that's not helpful, as I keep this mental load with me this way instead of getting rid of it.

All this led me to blog less and less. Which would be totally fine, I can stop blogging any time and pick it up again any time, it's my own blog after all. However, the above is also preventing me from writing more frequently and sharing what happened - and so much happened that would be worth reflecting and sharing on this medium. The less I posted (and hence practiced blogging), the more I found myself hesitating again to sit down and take note of my thoughts and experiences, for my own learning and by chance they might be valuable for someone else as well. Practice is everything and makes hard things easier, step by step. I watched my old fears came back, like that people will see that I'm actually not where they expected me to be. However, one of the things people told me was that they appreciated me sharing just wherever I was, they could relate with authenticity and not being the perfect super skilled smart expert who knows everything already and never fails. All in all: I want to share again what's going on, and that includes when things are not going well or according to my hopes. That includes difficult feelings about my own work, my role, my skills and everything. In the end, this pays into my mission as part of fostering a culture of inspiration.

So now I decided to try something new for me: write a short text and then stop. Short one-page posts on one topic. Similar to my journal at work - which by the way is an amazing resource what to write about - just elaborating a bit more. No need to cut things, just choose a small thing to share, write and then stop. Just revise what's already written and then publish. I'll try this out and see if the outcome indeed will be more frequent blog posts and hence more reflection and experience sharing.

Writing supports my thinking and keeping things short will allow me to do it more often.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

2020 - Gratitude After All

Beginning of the year I joined in on a series of fun tweets trying to predict your year. Obviously based on scientific evidence, of course. Well, based on the forecast, I'd say I had been at a good place around that time.

Then the real 2020 came and hit us all in very unexpected fashions. I am sure the year had a toll on all of us, and I'm also sure it impacted us very inequitably. If you made it through this year, then congrats to you! It's more than many can say, it's way more than enough, it's what counts in the end.

Writing this, I'm being aware that for many people this year was hell and full of suffering, the one way or the other. I'm being aware that for the ones that are closest to me the year was a really rough one. I'm being aware of my own privilege and sheer luck when it comes to my situation in all of this and I am very grateful for how things went this year overall in the end. Yes, I had to navigate several ups and downs, and I had to create new automation pathways in everyday life that took a lot more energy than ever expected to build up. Yet overall, things are as good as they can be. So just like every year, I wanted to look back and acknowledge the good things that happened, the things I learned, and anything else I find noteworthy to document here for my future self.

  • My personal challenge this year focused on security and I started learning a lot more about it. I decided to stop the challenge when other things mattered more, yet I dared starting it. Also, what I learned so far, like threat modeling, was very valuable for work already.
  • I learned a lot about systems of oppression, especially racism and sexism. There are so many wonderful people sharing their lived experiences and expertise whom I am ever grateful for. There are so many more stories to hear and learn from. So much more to do, taking action on the growing awareness and doing better. After sharing my first steps on this lifelong journey, I continued learning. I actively looked for more, read more, shared more resources, joined more workshops, and especially spoke up more. I'm only starting to see the patterns and see clearer what's happening, but it's a start.
  • At work, I learned a lot more about various software development topics: observability, performance, GraphQL, user research and usability testing, using mocks for exploratory testing, contract testing, infrastructure topics, and more.
  • I ran several experiments on all kinds of topics, on different levels, with various groups of people. Most failed, some succeeded, and I learned from all of them.
  • Reserving daily thinking time and writing my thoughts down in a journal at work helped me a lot with reflecting, focusing and deciding on my next steps.
  • Longer-term mentoring continued. Inside the company, one mentorship ended, another one started. Outside the company, I agreed to a mentoring relationship despite feeling and sharing I'm over my head - for our mutual learning.
  • I sponsored people for opportunities like public speaking or getting internal training. There's a lot more room for improvement here for the years to come.
  • I found an accountability partner at work to help each other grow better at saying no and make more conscious decisions what to commit to and what to delegate.
  • This December, I had my five-year anniversary at my current company; the longest time I've ever been at the same company. It's been a real ride full of opportunities, challenges, support - never boring.
  • I attended a really insightful leadership workshop series given by my amazing colleague Shiva Krishnan. It helped me reflect and get to know myself a lot better as well as provided me with lots of tools to become a better leader. My workshop group was amazing and made it a safe place for learning, so we decided to continue learning together as a learning group.
  • Speaking of learning groups, my lovely power learning group had further amazing calls supporting each other in these pandemic times. Also, I helped kick-start a new local cross-company learning group and we already enjoyed insightful conversations.
  • I didn't have as many pairing sessions in the community as the last years, I simply didn't have the energy for them. Still, the ones I had were great. In addition, Peter Kofler and I still pair on security testing each month.
  • I spoke at two conferences, two corporate events, three meetups, a webinar, and four podcasts. More things and events were planned, yet everything else was either postponed or I declined due to lack of energy.
  • I was part of a conference program team for the first time. In the end, instead of the planned on-site event, we hosted two online events. Still, a new experience for me.
  • Another first timer: I reviewed paper proposals for a conference. Based on my learnings and what helps me in my context, I created a conference speaking guide.
  • Thanks to Viv Richards, I contributed to a book for the very first time: "Around the World with 80 Software Testers". Loved reading all the wisdom from so many people all over the world.
  • This year I wrote eleven blog posts including the present one; honestly, more than I would have expected given my energy levels and priorities.
  • I joined a remote ensemble initiative, learning a lot about how to work well with new people, learning more about TDD, Python, software architecture and machine learning, and working on a practice project together. Not to forget the fun and energy this gave us all during pandemic times!
  • I was a lot more mindful about my own level of energy this year, realizing my bar was a lot lower than what I perceived the previous years. I made it a lot more explicit where to involved myself and how much time to spend, trying not to overspend my energy anymore.
  • I made self care a priority by keeping it as part of my personal challenge and continuing it even after marking the challenge as done. Each week I did things just for myself, for fun and relaxation - before other tasks at hand. I failed at it during three calendar weeks only and I know the reasons why. To add to that, intentionally granting myself more sleep during the week helped a lot as well.
  • I de-cluttered my life to quite some extent. Reducing the number of work initiatives (and hence my parallel load) which provided me a lot more focus and flexibility. Not committing myself to every opportunity that comes my way, remembering to say no and rather sponsor others wherever possible. Finally completing long postponed things on my personal to do list (like replacing way too old furniture that fell apart for years already), or acknowledging they are simply not important enough to be on that list of maximum twenty items, and if they became important, they would surface anyway again. Freeing myself of the constant pressure of the learning resources I haven't checked out yet. On the one hand, I created habits like "whenever I drive my car I listen to the next podcast episode on my list" that automatically has me chip away on my lists so I could stop worrying about them. On the other hand, renaming my lists from "to hear" to "might hear", granting myself the freedom to discard them at any time. I simply don't have to consume everything.
  • I finally overcame the denial phase and took the time to set up a proper home office. I even enjoy working from remote nowadays and definitely see the benefits, helping manage work with my new private life.
  • I created a personal vision and mission for me as a guiding light, especially for decision making. It does guide me well so far, and I'm curious what I'm going to say in half a year from now.
  • I'm ever grateful for the communities I'm part of. The power of community really cannot be overrated, in good times and especially in bad times. I had countless calls and messages to stay socially connected with each other, remotely, during a pandemic. To be human with each other. To give each other space and be heard. Inside and outside the company. You know who you are, and I'm grateful you are there.
  • What makes me really happy is that I could help some people this year. So many helped me, and I'm trying to pay it forward. Every time someone shares with me that I made a difference for them, no matter how small, it makes my day.
  • The most important thing I learned this year? Thoughts and words without actions hurt; and silence supports the status quo. Both of these apply to the context of a team just as much as to the world.
That list grew longer than expected for 2020. Here's a side note on all this: I intentionally set myself up to remember the good stuff. I jot down my upcoming plans and keep track, yet that's just a small part of it. I have moments on Twitter with all achievements shared and appreciations received. I keep positive feedback that I get. I take a lot of notes, like that journal at work. All this helps me think in the moment, and also helps my future self to acknowledge what happened in the past. It's giving myself the comfort and confidence I need to look into the future.

Speaking of next year? Well, I regained enough energy to make plans again. I already have committed to a few of them for 2021. I'm aware they might not become reality, and that's fine. I also granted myself a lot more leeway to reduce pressure and give myself flexibility to decide in the moment, following my energies. We never know what comes, besides that things always change. I try to keep seeing opportunities for growth.

To set the tune for next year, I'm currently listening to The Happiness Lab. Really recommended science podcast series! Let's take on shaping 2021 together.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

My Personal Vision and Mission

This year, I set out to craft a personal vision and mission for myself. I'm sharing it now for multiple reasons. On the one hand, for my own learning and growth, as writing about it forces me to summarize my thoughts and preserve my reasoning for my future self as a reference. On the other hand, for your inspiration, in case you want to create a personal vision yourself to see if it helps tackling your challenges, or in case the content of my vision speaks to you in some way.

Balancing Opportunities and Impact

Since last year I became very deliberate with what I spend my time and energy on at work. Where can I provide the most value? Where do I want to have impact? How? Given the privilege and freedom I have at work, there are many opportunities at hand. The last years, especially coming with my promotion to principal level, I took the bait of saying yes to way too many topics. All the things sounded great and worthy after all! However, it's a trap. Juggling with contributing to too many initiatives at the same time can hurt a lot. It hurt the quality of the outcome achieved as I was spreading myself too thin to have as deep an impact as I wanted to have. It hurt due to opportunity cost, as quickly agreeing to all opportunities that came my way didn't leave the option to contribute to others that might have been more valuable to pursue. It hurt me personally as my stress levels increased with each topic exponentially, especially when tasks and deadlines collided. And it also hurt the interactions I had with other people as I was constantly in a rush, causing me to miss a lot of nuances in collaboration, often not having energy left to show my best behavior. I had to learn that the hard way last year.

Reflecting on this, I tried to increase focus for my commitments and see where I could provide most value every day, every week. Using a simple notebook page per work week (yes, an analog one), I started planning ahead for the upcoming week. I jotted down the most important points to work on, on which day, so I could provide the most value overall for all of us. Making things visual and having them lying next to me at any time indeed helped me focus. I could tick items off as I went, highlight them if I didn't come to them, or strike them out in case they didn't apply anymore. I also tracked my mood at the end of the work day to indicate whether the day worked out well or not so I could adapt what I had in my hands. While this was (and still is) helping already, I still was spread across too many things. I felt I needed even more focus and not fill my time up fully to keep a certain amount of flexibility. Yet what to focus on? Where to best spend my capacity?

Beginning of this year, I started reflecting on who I wanted to be and how I wanted to lead by example. I came up with five characteristics I'd like to see for myself, calling it my vision for my future self. That helped with grounding myself a lot. Also, I thought about the productive and generative work I wanted to do, both short term and long term - kudos to Maaret Pyhäjärvi for the approach and inspiration! This helped me come up with concrete strategies and balanced focus.

I viewed things from a "range of impact" perspective. If I do this, who would be impacted? Me, my product team, our cross-team testing community, the tech department, the whole company? I started limiting my initiatives to one per category, which already helped. Work in progress limits for the win. Over time, I condensed these even further to three groups only. Only three topics in progress at the same time, next to my everyday hands-on work in my product team. That worked well for quite some time.

This year, however, with limited energy at hand, I made the choice to reduce my topic limit yet again. Now I'm counting the every day hands-on work as one of three buckets I can fill. I could still approach this in new ways of course, yet now I'm explicit about combining these initiatives. Why? Last year I had created an explicit agreement with my team that on average I will work for two thirds on team topics and one third on topics beyond the team, impacting maybe another product team, or our domain, or any kind of grouping with people from various teams. So now I'm thinking of this roughly as follows: one third of my time for hands-on everyday topics with my product team (e.g. pair testing with my teammates), one third to drive initiatives within my team (e.g. increasing testability for our interfaces with services from other teams), and one third for topics beyond the team (e.g. supporting our domain technical offer experimenting to evolve a quality culture in the domain). So now I had roughly three buckets overall, so I'd rather only have only one focus topic for each of them.

All this worked quite well for the time being, and throughout this year I got better and better in not taking on new commitments. I even found an accountability partner when it came to saying no, my dear colleague Paulo Azevedo. I rather streamlined the attention and energy I had, driving less things at the same time - and I was feeling better.

With 2020 being a special year in itself, having a toll on everybody, I felt not guilty about not taking on formal cross-team topics and initiatives and instead chose to experiment more informally on my own. There was a lot of value in having this free time and new flexibility to involve myself and drive small things forward. Still, now that I went through the first waves and turbulences after my promotion and managed to calm down and regain energy, now that I'm in a good position where I can really trigger change, it was time to take up something bigger again. Take the next step in my personal growth as well. So once again, during the last months I've thought a lot about what I wanted to achieve, which impact to have.

Around the same time, I've completed a series of leadership workshops given by my amazing colleague Shiva Krishnan that provided a wealth of food for thought. It allowed me to understand myself as well as past interactions a lot better, and inspired me heavily to try out lots of different things. Along with the workshops, Shiva offered personal coaching sessions. I was eager to take him up on his offer as I had already learned how valuable personal coaching can be. In our first session I told Shiva I wanted to define my next step on my journey. So I shared the vision I had for my future self at that point in time - and his questions made me realize that my points rather described the how, not the what. What was it that really inspired me, that I wanted to achieve, my dream vision? I didn't have an answer. I could tell who inspired me; I tried to follow their lead by example. Yet what is it that inspired me personally, what did I want to reach or work towards as an individual? Thinking freely without barriers, leaving out all the things I might think I "ought to do"? What makes me happy, what do I enjoy, what do I want to continue? Shiva said to me that I don't always need to know everything, only where I want to go. So my actual next step became clear to me. I wanted to create a personal vision for myself to serve as guiding light when it comes to deciding which impact I want to have, where and how to provide most value, and which opportunities to decline, accept, or even create myself.

My Personal Vision and Mission

So far I had helped creating a vision and mission for groups and initiatives, yet never one for myself. I searched the internet for tips. I brainstormed and reflected on the past and present. Lots and lots of questions asked. What would I observe when the dream became reality? How to notice that what I did got us closer to my vision? How to know the vision is good enough at all for my purpose? Well, for the latter I found my answer. Given a vision, I wanted to be able to ask myself for any kind of opportunity: Does it support my vision? If yes, go for it. If not, it's either not the right thing to do or not for me to do it.

A vision is the dream goal, the ideal state. A mission leads to a vision, it's how to reach the higher goal. A vision and mission is never carved in stone, they evolve over time or might even change completely. Given all this, I created a first draft of my vision and continued iterating on it. Shiva was instrumental here in guiding my thinking with invaluable questions which triggered lots of thoughts, helping me uncover and shape what I see as mine. In the end, I had crafted my personal vision and mission as of now.

Vision: Systemic inclusion and growth for a better world 

Mission: By fostering a culture of DICE
                    Diversity, equity & inclusion 
                    Inspiration 
                    Collaboration 
                    Experimentation
=> Simple words: Foster a culture where everyone is sharing and learning with each other 
=> Shortest version: Everyone learning together 

My vision, the ideal world I'd like to live in, is to have systemic inclusion and growth for a better world. Because I strongly believe if we really include all perspectives and all the people with different lived experiences and we all get better together and grow and learn more, it will automatically result in a better world in the sense of better policies for our planet,  for our other fellow humans, for everything. Better products, more innovation, better ideas, better solutions. That's the base that I would love to have, the ideal, the dream.

It's about having a system where this is just natural, where people just do this naturally, where this is the easiest way to go. It's just the way it is, not something out of the norm, it's the default. There's no effort for people they have to put in as it's the usual way to go, you don't have to be a super human to do that. All good will come out of it, we can move forward together from a safe space. This vision needs me to think of systems more. How to set up policies, how to create the space, shape the environment - so that good things happen. That's my dream for the world overall, but also in a smaller part for tech which is my bubble. It's the higher thing that I'd like to contribute to and work on. I strongly believe if we have that we have a better world.

My mission to reach this vision is to foster a culture of "DICE". I use this as an acronym to make it more snappy and memorable. The D stands for diversity, equity and inclusion which is often abbreviated as DEI. The I is for inspiration, C for collaboration, and E for experimentation. I felt if I put this mission in very simple words, it would be to foster a culture where everyone is sharing with each other and learning with each other. So everyone learning together would be the shortest version, sort of the elevator pitch. I still kept the more verbose original one as default because I felt it's more explicit and expressive for me, but if I would need to explain it for someone else, probably the simple words and short version will help.

I am aware that some people might wonder where the testing and quality part is in here. I did not want to bind my vision to a specific aspect, activity or role. That does not stop me, however, from being able to see this vision and mission from different perspectives and takes. I can focus on testing and quality but don't have to. I wanted to have it explicitly overarching and including not only all those things that I do, not even only all those things we do in product development, yet be applicable to a lot of contexts. Shiva asked me whether I feel bad that quality is not explicitly mentioned in there. The answer is no. Based on my own experience, I believe that quality will emerge out of such a system, be the natural outcome so I don't need to focus on it.

I am also aware that my personal vision and mission can be perceived as quite open, high level and generic; so how could it be useful for decision making? Well, I see this as a benefit. I can do a lot of different activities to get closer to this, to help this vision. So many experiments I can think of that can contribute! Also, I wanted a vision I could live every day. Keep in mind that this is not tied to work only. I wanted to have a real personal vision and mission that's guiding me in life, which means in work life plus my personal development and private life as well. I hoped it would be a tool, a guiding light for prioritization and decision making, using which I could always ask myself: does this pay into what I actually want to achieve, the higher goal?

In the end, my vision and mission really feels good to me. I can remember it even when not reading it every day, can just tell anyone that's what I want to work towards. Also, it inspires me. On the one hand I'm already working on some of these things. I'm working on the growth part for several years now with all my personal challenges, learning together in groups, help others grow, sharing what I learned. I invested there a lot already. The inclusion part I always wanted to work on yet haven't done much yet, there's a lot of potential in this part and I'm just at the beginning. I could also say that this will lead to personal growth again; I feel I first need to learn what I can do to create such systems where others can do it, too. The key change in thinking now is the systemic part. I always thought of cultures yet never made it that explicit, never really considered deliberately shaping the space during my experiments to drive change. People have reasons for when they do something or not do something; I need to take care of the environment to be able to trigger change.

A Guiding Light

Having my vision and mission at hand and always visible, I wanted to give it a try to see if it really helps my decision making. New options and opportunities showing up? Now I could bounce them off my vision and mission, see if they pay into them or not. Also, I wanted to come up with my next big initiative. During our personal coaching sessions, Shiva mentioned the VMOSA framework that can help break things down further to actionable steps we can take towards our vision. VMOSA stands for:

  • Vision: the dream
  • Mission: what you will actually do to make your vision a reality
  • Objectives: what you're hoping to achieve in a given time frame
  • Strategies: the how
  • Action plans: detailed plan of who, what, by when, to make what change happen

I felt this VMOSA framework might be too blown up for my usual case, yet I wanted to try it out as a thinking tool and see if it would allow me to derive with concrete guidance for the next year 2021. I already had the vision, and the mission. The objectives? Phew, that one felt tough. However, thinking about strategies, Shiva had already made me realize that my original wishes for my future myself had represented strategies rather than a real vision. So I skipped the objectives for now and instead took the strategies I already had, extended them where needed, and mapped them to the points in my mission. Which strategies could I apply to get closer to which parts in my mission?

  • Leading by example 
    • The kind includer: creating space for people and helping them grow by providing crucial feedback, prioritizing the most vulnerable (D, I)
    • The inspirer: sharing my stories and lessons learned for others to discover and explore (I) 
    • The doing leader: demonstrating the whole team approach by getting my hands on wherever I can provide value (I, C) 
    • The collaborator by example: going the way together by pairing and ensembling (C) 
    • The learning advocate: becoming better every day by running small frugal experiments (I, E) 
  • Creating spaces with policies that have consequences 
    • Make inclusion and growth the default (D, I, C, E) 

The concrete action plans were also not hard to come up with. I felt that my actions would be represented by my experiments. Experiments applying strategies to achieve objectives paying into the mission to get closer to the vision and hence having real impact. Well, I have long lists full of ideas for my next experiments. Mapping these ideas to parts of my mission made also visual where they would pay into. Some experiments would pay into several, others only into one of them.

So far so good, yet I had skipped the objectives step. So now I thought about concrete, measurable objectives for 2021. It took me some time until I could formulate my first objectives, and all of a sudden I had nine of them. All quite big. Definitely very ambitious, most probably too many to reach in 2021. Am I spreading myself too thin again? Especially as I wanted more focus and balance? I wonder, what if I would see those rather as objectives and key results (OKRs), where it's recommended to define them in a way that you probably reach 60% of them? I definitely was up for a challenge again. In the end it's about outcome over output. I also mostly chose high numbers for my measures so I have to make it systemic to achieve them. Well, the objectives I have now might not be perfect, yet they are a starting point. And they did what I wanted from them initially, to provide guidance and help me choose my next initiatives to involve myself in. Which experiments to run now, which ones not to run, or not yet.

As a final step in this thinking process, I checked if my vision and mission is in line with our company vision, goals and values as well; especially considering my work objectives for next year. I was happy to see they actually do pay into it as well (or did I just see what I wanted to see?). Well, all that was an exercise to help me think. I cannot tell yet whether the objectives chosen will actually help me decide which experiments to try or not. Maybe they will indeed, yet they definitely won't be the only aspect. Whatever I will learn on my way will inform my next experiments in any case.

For now, I only decided on my very next experiment. This one is a real big one that is scary as well. It will definitely need me to be out of my comfort zone, stretching myself into the learning zone. It's as safe as it can be at the same time, as I'm going to pair with Shiva on this one. We agreed to do the next round of the leadership workshops for my location together. We're going to build upon each other's ideas and make this a new workshop series, an evolved one, our own one. These are going to be the first workshops where I not only talk about learning, collaboration, experimentation - but also about diversity, equity, inclusion, systems of oppression like racism, privilege, cognitive biases, psychological safety, and more. So much looking forward to what we will all learn together.

Building Future Systems

For the time being, I know my dream vision and my mission how I think we can get there. I do not know every exact step on the way there, though. Yet now I can work on this a lot more deliberately, experiment by experiment. I'm curious where it leads me and which ways I find to create systems, shape systems, and help them evolve - and us with it.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

#SecurityStories: Summing Up

Just like I did since 2017, I've committed to a personal challenge for this year as well: telling #SecurityStories. A few months into it, it was starting to take shape. I had completed four different experiments in the area of security and was working on the fifth one:

I believe that working on Juice Shop challenges, alone or with a pair, will result in increased confidence in my own skills.
I know I'll have succeeded when I've solved all challenges below 5 stars.

So I started from scratch again with the latest version of OWASP Juice Shop, solved challenge after challenge, finished all the ones marked with one or two stars. I paired with Gil Zilberfeld and Simon Berner. I realized some of the three star challenges were trickier than expected. Many times I thought I had found the solution yet my approach didn't work. Frustration kicked in, yet also the eagerness to figure out this challenge, gain the required knowledge to do so. I had managed to solve 10 of the 22 three star challenges, completed overall 33% of all challenges - and then life happened. Priorities changed.

The killing of George Floyd and so many other Black people left a big impact on me. I decided to pause my personal challenge and focus instead on learning about systems of oppression, and racism in specifics. Also this time, I shared what I learned within three months in my post I Am white. This is a lifelong learning journey, however, and I'm continuing the work.

Coming back to the #SecurityStories, I'm now closing this personal challenge with this post. This is an experiment for which I couldn't evaluate the underlying hypothesis as the exit criteria I had defined kicked in first: I faced a more important challenge, and my timebox until October 31st expired as well. Personally, I did learn a lot from working on this challenge. Four persons confirmed with me they learned from it as well; if I reached any more people with it is unclear.

Looking back, I realized a few things about this specific challenge and how I framed it.

  • I find it hard to tell real stories, not just write mere reports.
  • No one confirmed they learned something from me unless I asked them directly; and of course they said yes then.
  • It's hard to explain complicated terms in simple ways.

The base challenge which made me come up with the #SecurityStories remains: raising my awareness and skills around security and sharing my insights while always taking care of myself. I've not finished learning more in the area of security, by far not! I will just do this on the side given I have the energy and capacity for it. It's still a super important topic for me, and I still have so many ideas on my list of things to try and learn more about, so it'll be easy to be picked up again any time. Also, I'm still having monthly pairing sessions on security with Peter Kofler anyways.

What I did a lot better than the last years, was taking care of myself. Once again I had integrated self-care into my personal challenge, forcing myself to prioritize health. I only failed two times, just before and after DDD Europe, and noted that as being okay. The rest of the year I did make time to do things that are good for my body and soul.

For now, I'm de-cluttering my life. I'm finishing off a few things I started some time ago, finally getting a few things done that were overdue. Eventually, I'm trying not commit to a lot of things at the same time anymore, whether at work, in private life, or for my personal development. Next year will come, a new challenge will come (already have one in mind), there will be more things I'd like to work on. I want to grant myself the freedom to say no or not now, and to stay more flexible in my commitments. In the end it boils down to regaining focus and keeping balance.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Agile Testing Days 2020 - Recharging My Batteries

Joining the Agile Testing Days at the end of the year was always a blast and a real energy booster for me. This year, the conference was forced to go online, and I wondered how it would be. I might have shared it before, I'm rather skeptical regarding online conferences. While I love the fact that remote makes attending conferences a lot more accessible, I personally feel online events drain my energy more while I'm not getting the same benefits from them as if they would be on-site. I really miss the hallway tracks, the informal casual conversations, having food together, the social hours after the official program ended, maybe even going sightseeing together. From all these informal situations I learned so much, drew a lot of inspiration, and gained wonderful friends and a lot of connections in the community. The only online conference so far that made me feel re-connected with the community was TestBash Home earlier this year; shout-out to the wonderful people at Ministry of Testing!

This was a very unusual and rough year. It had and still has a toll on everyone, on many people dis-proportionally higher than on me due to my high level of privilege. If I already feel it and go through a (rather smooth) roller-coaster ride, how must it be for those with less privileges? Here's where I learn so much from stories told by other people, especially those systemically underrepresented. Even in my lived experience, I felt in need of refueling my energy.

Back to the Agile Testing Days 2020 online edition. First of all: many thanks to the wonderful organizers to make it happen at all, many thanks for putting so much effort and mindfulness into making it happen, and many thanks for making it a great experience despite all the issues that only surface when you bring a product to production. You did a great job to solve or work around them quickly. Cheers to you! Super grateful.


The Highlights: Community Magic

The first day had me starting quite tired, yet eager to see if the magical Agile Testing Days community spirit would be alive and kicking also virtually. And it worked! Seeing so many people in the talk chats and all the tweets flowing on Twitter really drew me into the zone. All this crowned by the announcement of the Most Influential Agile Testing Professional Person (MIATPP) 2020, the wonderful and ever inspiring Angie Jones!!! So glad this community award finally went to Angie after her being on the top voted list for years. Well, I might be biased here as I repeatedly voted for her myself - yet I'm convinced I'm not the only one thinking this was overdue. Here's what I wrote to nominate her. Angie, in case you're reading this: thank you once again for everything.

Angie did so much for our testing community. She's sharing her wisdom every day with us, on Twitter, her blog, touring the world and more. She's an amazing presenter and wonderful workshop instructor. She continuously promotes the importance of automation and testing and how to do it well.

Angie has been super influential for a long time already. Last year, she took it to the next level, advocating for all of us when she brought Test Automation University to life. This was a stroke of genius! She got so many world class instructors on board and really engaged the community to learn and go beyond. 

There are so many more reasons why Angie should finally get the MIATPP award, yet one thing deserves emphasis on top of all this. Angie was key to me waking up to what's happening in the world. To not only see the systems of oppression, systemic racism in specifics, but also to act on what I see and start dismantling it. What she shared, her own lived experiences as well as those of many others, triggered me to move; to go ahead on my lifelong journey of learning more and doing better. It's clearly up to me now, yet still: Angie, I cannot thank you enough.

Right after the award "ceremony" (what a pity we couldn't really celebrate Angie all together on-site as she would have deserved it!) it was bar chat night. Alex Schladebeck hosted one of them which draw me right in. It was lovely hanging out with people even just virtually, seeing known and new faces and hearing about their lives and experiences. This strengthened the re-connection to the community and got me looking forward to the next days even more.

Yet my absolute community highlight was the evening of the second day. Party time for some, PowerPoint karaoke and pub quiz for others. I chose to again hang out informally with people, looking for new connections or strengthening old ones. For this purpose, the conference organizers did not offer a usual conference call setting, yet used a Gather town instead. I haven't come across this tool before and was delighted to discover it! Entering the town, you get a tiny avatar and are placed on an isometric world map looking a lot like a retro game. You can wander around the map and as you meet other people, our video feeds get active and we can talk with each other. If you wander off too far away, you cannot overhear conversations anymore. Mimicking the real world situation! Bonus point: it's free for groups up to 25 people.

At first I found myself in the need of exploring the tool, I was not ready for interaction yet. Yet then some familiar faces popped in and we started to explore the tool together which was a lot of fun.

More and more people joined and we figured this was coming as close to the real conference on-site feeling as it could! Groups formed and dissolved quite naturally, conversations evolved on one topic and moved on to others. We figured if we start our own map we could enable the builder mode and customize our map, even add interactive tools like whiteboards or games. We ended up with playing the game Set online with each other and had great fun! Really, I haven't had so much fun in the virtual for a long time. And the evening wasn't over yet. I had to leave the group for about an hour due to a dry run for my workshop the next morning, yet just like on an on-site conference, I came back and looked whether there would be still people around and up for a conversation. I actually found them! Thanks to my dear friend João Proença for sticking around and inviting me over to the late nighters talk. Also here, once more I felt the spirit of Agile Testing Days. I knew I had to call it a night to be reasonable, yet I simply didn't want to leave the conversation just yet. So I stayed up way longer than intended and had to pay for that the days afterwards. Still don't regret it a bit.
The only sad thing: not too many people from our power learning group could attend this year. They were deeply missed, especially my learning partner Toyer Mamoojee. With those who could join, we didn't find enough time to connect. Well, we will have a dedicated call in a few weeks and re-live Agile Testing Days just for us.

The Program: A Mix of Everything

This year I chose to stick with my own commitment of being kind to myself and not creating sketchnotes for online talks. Although I do like creating sketchnotes and sharing them, I feel they only help me in real life settings. When I'm in front of a computer anyways, I take digital notes. Also, this decision allowed me to keep up with Twitter more in time so I didn't need follow that urge at the end of the day when I'm already exhausted. Still, if you'd like to see sketchnotes, check out the ones created by Ekaterina Budnikov, Eveline Moolenaars, Katja Piroué and Konners Brai.

When at on-site conferences, I tend to attend workshops whenever I can and hope they will be really hands-on and full of interactive exercises. I learn a lot by engaging and experiencing things myself. I feel these are the situations I cannot just replay as I can do with talk recordings. That being said, of course hearing a talk live together with other people is a huge difference compared to watching a recording alone. Still, I wanted to make time for workshops as much as I could also for the online edition of Agile Testing Days. Here are the sessions I ended up attending live.

Day 1:

  • Keynote: It's Always About You by José Díaz. José ended up jumping in with a backup keynote as Daniël Maslyn who was scheduled for the opening keynote faced connection issues. In hindsight, I really loved this happening, it was amazing! This was a very personal and vulnerable story showing how José became the person he is today. It was the perfect keynote to open the conference; no matter if it was a backup or not. Really triggered lots of thoughts. Super inspiring, setting the tone for the conference.
  • Testing Tour: My journey of Pairing and Learning by Parveen Khan. I just love that Parveen is sharing the story of her testing tour, pairing up with people and learning a lot together. From what I observed she inspired a lot more people to step outside their comfort zones on their journeys. Just awesome!
  • Being a tester after trying almost everything else by João Proença. Loved it! So many lessons learned in different positions over the years, there's lots of wisdom to draw from. Great reminder that everything we learn can help us with testing. By the way, did you know João is an amazing musician? Check out Marty Was Right (also available on Spotify)!
  • Keynote: Automation Addiction by Huib Schoots and Paul Holland. What is automation, really? How did this fixation on test automation evolve and how to see the symptoms? Great keynote on why we cannot automate everything and we shouldn't. Automation can do a lot for us, yet automating too much, automating the wrong things, or maintaining ineffective automation hurts. We need a comprehensive strategy supported by the whole team.
  • Workshop: Security Games by Marianne Rady, Claudius Link and Matthias Altmann. I learned new ways of engaging participants using a Miro board. I got to know about a security game I wasn't aware of yet: OWASP Cornucopia. I could get my toes wet with the Elevation of Privilege (EoP) Threat Modeling Card Game. Besides that, I learned about the difficulties to make security accessible to a wide variety of people.
  • Keynote: Level Up: Playing the Automation Game by Angie Jones. A-ma-zing. As always. Thank you Angie for sharing your wisdom! Really dropped gems here, once again. This time, transferring what she learned from game design to automation. Also: loved the video of young Angie playing city bingo!
Day 2:
  • Keynote: Testing is not the goal! by Rob Meaney. So much wisdom condensed in one talk. And the messages cannot be emphasized enough: "life is too short to build software that does not matter and too short to inflict harm on people", "build organizations and teams obsessed with learning", "design systems together that can be safely adapted based on what we learned", "optimize for a great whole team experience to get happy productive teams working in successful, innovative businesses delivering valuable software to satisfied customers". Definitely check out all the great work Rob does! Especially when in need of mental models, Rob has a real knack for them.
  • Workshop: Put testing on the map by Wouter Lagerweij. Wouter prepared great visualizations to help us have meaningful conversations on different kinds of tests and how they fit to different parts of our system, process or pipeline. He pointed out to make sure to have a shared definition on the terminology used for tests, no matter which one.
  • Keynote: 8 Bit Pro - A gamer's guide to testing by Dan Billing. I had listened to this talk last year already, and loved the latest version even better. Besides showing how any product needs to provide value using the example of games, Dan even had the whole audience playing Lemmings with him! Really energizing and fun. Also, I really appreciate his plead for increased diversity and inclusion right after his talk.
  • Workshop: TDD with You, You, You, and Me by Zeb Ford-Reitz and Mira Kottmann. This was an amazing workshop, really grateful for the experience. I loved the theory part, they made it really easy to follow by providing very clear and helpful explanations. I especially loved the workshop part which was really hands-on! It's just great working in an ensemble, learning and practicing together. Big kudos for Mira and Zeb for being really kind and mindful. I felt very welcome.
  • Dear Mrs Aquafresh: Bottling this girl’s confidence by Clare Norman. Wonderful story, and especially wonderful storytelling! Incredible job for a first-time speaker. Clare shared a very personal story on how she re-built lost confidence as an adult while she had a lot of confidence as a child. She reminded us to be - us. Not cool or normal, the weird us that we are. To let our inner child out in while. To decide ourselves where to spend our courage on, to put our own stamp on everything we do, and to celebrate that. From my observations many people saw themselves in her story. I really hope more people get the chance to learn from her experiences, they'd be in for a treat.
  • Keynote: bAd-gile: The Online Gameshow by Huib SchootsAlex Schladebeck and Bart Knaack. What a great idea! Didn't know what to expect from this keynote but I loved it. They had two teams playing impossible games before the keynote, recorded the outcomes and shared their observations. Then it was time for the audience to do the same! They even asked them on stage to share their own moments when agile had gone completely wrong or misunderstood. This was entertaining, engaging, fun - and also inspirational. Have to try out those game ideas back at work!
Day 3:
  • Keynote: Beyond the bugs by Rick Tracy. Interesting look at how testers are perceived by different people and how they see themselves. The one thing in common: they find bugs. Yet there's a lot more what testers do and how they provide value. Rick went so far to even calculate their impact in concrete money value. Impressive.
  • Keynote: Let it go by Nicola Sedgwick. What a wonderful personal story to close Agile Testing Days. Nicole learned lots of lessons about testing and quality on her way. She encouraged testers to let go: of testing as a role, of defining themselves by the quality of their systems, of perfection, of the defensiveness that if they're not testing they're not contributing. Let's embrace the coaching aspect, learning new skills and experimentation. Very relatable story, inspiring us for the future.
I had planned to attend another workshop on the third day on accessibility testing yet found myself too exhausted after my own session so I decided to take a break instead.

From what I've seen on Twitter, there had been several talks that looked very insightful: personal mental health stories, talks on effectivity and productivity, and important aspects like biases and ethnics in testing. Good to know the recordings are there for me to catch up!

The Excitement: Our Own Sessions

This time I facilitated two sessions. Lucky me - I was not alone for either of them! I paired on creating a pairing workshop, I ensembled on creating ensemble workshops. Just in the spirit of what we wanted to have our participants experience. Also, these had been first-timers for me as I did pair on workshops before, I did remote workshops before, yet I never had both combined. Also, both session concepts were brand-new, world premiers so to say. Experiments in themselves and to be incrementally refined as we go, as we definitely aim to give those sessions at further conferences in the future.

The "Extreme Pairing" workshop that I had the honor to prepare and facilitate together with the wonderful Simon Berner was something I had on my ideas list for a longer time. Thanks so much Simon for making this happen together with me! We started scheming this since May when the conference was still planned as on-site conference yet we knew this could change any time. Just as it did; first to a hybrid for a small on-site crowd and a virtual audience, now as completely online conference. Looking back, it was a great decision that Simon and I decided very early on to make our workshop feasible to do remotely from the start. Our rationale was that for a pairing workshop, even the on-site setting would require people to sit far from each other with their own screens in front of them. In the end that decision served us well. It was clear we opted in for giving this workshop remotely and we don't regret it. It was a blast! So honored and happy that the twenty people joining us stayed with us the whole time for a 2.5 hours online workshop. Really happy about the feedback received and looking forward to improving the session further. For the limited time we had we couldn't go as "extreme" as we would have liked to, yet the way we designed the workshop we could easily scale it up to a longer session and adapt it to different audiences.

The other workshops where both Simon and I were involved in were the "Daily Ensemble Sessions" with our wonderful conspirators Elizabeth Zagroba and Joep Schuurkes who initiated the whole idea. Each day we offered a different session with different facilitators, introducing ensembling in a different way, offering a different topic to work on, and having different participants working together. This was a great experiment and a great experience with a lot to learn from! We would have loved to offer this on-site on a bit bigger scale, yet making the scope smaller for online worked really well to test out the concept. Once again it was clear that the ensemble approach combined with a safe learning space can enable a group of strangers working together successfully and learning a lot on the way. Also, it's teaching valuable lessons how to communicate and collaborate better with people in general. I hosted the third of these sessions together with Joep Schuurkes and I learned a lot about facilitating again, what helps setting the stage for an easier start and what helps making the space safer for everyone. 

On a personal note: it might not have been the smartest idea to facilitate two workshops on the last day of the conference, knowing I will have my energy depleted after the first one. Still, I'm really happy we made this happen. I learned a lot, it was great working together with my fellow facilitators, and it was a pleasure having our lovely participants.

Next Up

Well - that's it for my conference year 2020! Next year? Originally, I had planned a lot of things already including conferences I've already agreed to. However, no one can tell how the world situation might look like then, so let's wait and see.
Regarding Agile Testing Days 2021, I do hope that some of the planned conferences can take place in any kind of form. Agile Testing Days USA, the newly announced AgileTD Open Air, and of course the usual Agile Testing Days again end of the year. Let's see what comes, I'm eager to feel this wonderful community spirit again. Until then, I could recharge my batteries to full once again this year. Thank you everyone.