Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Year Full of Learning

As the end of the year is coming closer, the time has come to look back and reflect. So many things happened since December 2016. One of our people managers at my company had asked me lately how my last year has been for me and I answered that I might be an exceptional case, but for me it was grandiose, splendid, awesome. And here's why.
  • Inspired from Agile Testing Days 2016, I started this blog 13 months ago. Writing this, I just realized that this very post is my 30th post so far. I never made a plan about what to write, but as soon I got started ideas just evolved in everyday life. Looking back, I see that blogging helped me reflect on what happened and document my thinking at that point in time. I am already curious what I might think about my current thoughts one year from now. Furthermore, I made my achievements as well as my failures graspable for myself by writing them down. My blog is serving me as my travel journal on a long way of learning.
  • Motivated by the pact Toyer and I made one year ago, we started to submit at conferences - and got accepted! This kicked off a whole new learning path for me. Before, I did not have public speaking among my short-term goals; it rather sneaked in. But investing time here and improving myself was absolutely worth it, as it opened up many possibilities for me. One of the major things for me personally was that it enabled me to join not only one conference sponsored by my company, but three overall this year! This resulted in so many lessons and insights to bring home. Another invaluable point here was that I found Toyer as a long-term learning partner this way. We supported us throughout the year and gave advice or feedback on many different topics. We even have a new pact challenge for next year!
  • For the very first time, I finally started to join local meetups this year. Different meetups on different topics: testing, coding dojos, agile, lightning talks, CI/CD. Getting out of my comfort zone here was really valuable for me. It was great to find those local communities and connect with people sharing interests in the same area! Also, offering myself as a meetup speaker was a great way to practice my conference talks upfront and get early feedback to improve them.
  • A huge change in my product team's way of collaboration was that we gave the mobbing approach a try - and loved it! To this day, we are frequently having mob sessions on one or two topics a month and learning so much from each other this way while having fun together. All brains focused to solve the problem at hand, getting instant feedback from all sides, setting us up for accidental learning. I am really curious how we will benefit from this approach in the next year. In any case, it brought the team a lot closer already.
  • I started to pair with my developers. On testing, during development, on communication tasks, on whatever. Just lately we had a great team retrospective providing each other feedback. We should note down what we loved about the other and what we would like to do in the next year with them. While doing so, I realized that my wishes for next year were centered around pairing and even closer collaboration! In an ideal day I probably won't spent much time of the day alone in front of my own laptop anymore. I'm curious how this will work out and what impact it will have.
  • My team's constellation changed multiple times during the last year. We even had a complete restart after our company's team self-design event. Still, we managed to grow closer with every change. Just these days, one developer left and two new joined, so our challenge to maintain what's good in our team culture and improve everything else goes on.
  • My company's testing community grew over the year. Several new testers joined in; but we also lost others not identifying as testers. I'd say we are still in a sort of norming phase. Still, we could share lots of knowledge already and learned whom we can ask for support on different topics. The next steps will be to grow closer and to enable the community to run on its own.
  • Becoming a speaker, I felt I had a better entry point into the external agile and testing community. I got to know so many great people this way! And I'm thankful for all of them. Also, by speaking to many testers outside my company, I am realizing the amount and kind of privilege I have. Privilege regarding freedom, possibilities, opportunities, respect, attention, and so on. I'll try my best to use this privilege to give it to all those who lack it and make it a better place for all of us.
As every year, good things and bad things happened. There are always things to improve. However, this year was clear in my favor, so I have lots of good things to list here.

Reflecting on the last year makes me realize that I took a great leap regarding personal development. I'd never have thought I'd be where I am right now; that I would actually have this blog and had spoken publicly at several occasions at this point. My thanks go out to everybody encouraging me to leap and supporting me on my way! I hope I can give that back one time by giving it to those who need it as I needed it.

Right now I feel that I'm living just on the rim of my comfort zone; sometimes retreating within, sometimes stepping just outside, but never going to far towards the danger zone. By doing so, my personal comfort zone continuously got larger throughout the last year. Re-reading what I just wrote makes me realize how much this still fits to Abby Fichtner's keynote "Pushing the Edge on What's Possible"; my initial inspiration to actually push for all those good things I listed above.

All in all, I'm ready for the new year to come. I already see some next challenges ahead, but let's see what the new year will actually bring.

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