Miles to go before I sleep

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.   
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep
– Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

August was probably the single most busy travel month of my life, with more to come.

Here’s the rundown: July 31st I said goodbye to a large client where I had been working 32 hours a week when not at conferences. After enjoying the weekend, I drove Nashville, Tennessee to attend Agile2013, where I was a track co-chair (Test & Quality Track) and presented two talks — one on “Twelve years of Agile-Testing and What Do We Know?” while the second was with Claire Moss on “A Hands-On Introduction To Exploratory Testing.” After Nashville, I was home for another weekend and three days, then go into a plane on Thursday to fly to New Zealand to speak at STANZ, presenting a talk on improving the delivery process by modeling our work with game theory — then a half-day tutorial on Agile Planning for Testers.

After STANZ I had a day in West Michigan before driving to Madison, Wisconsin for TestRetreat on Saturday, followed by a board meeting for the Association For Software Testing on Sunday, followed by the AST’s Annual Conference, CAST2013. At CAST I ran a round-table discussion with Pete Walen Monday night, along with Lean Coffee Monday and Tuesday at 7:00AM.


After the whirlwind month that was August, it is, indeed good to be home.

The work queue is going well, but I find I have a new kind of problem.

After a month of collaborating, exchanging ideas, and kicking things around with my closest friends, I find I have too many project ideas. Many of them are volunteer/non-profit/grow the industry/educate sort of things; I need some sort of mechanism to winnow the stack down to a few ideas. I wanted to do that at TestRetreat, to find partners to work on a few key projects, but I found that instead we came up with even more ideas.

So I thought I would list the projects here, wait a couple of weeks, and see who responds by email and comments.

Here Goes …

The Workshop on Self-Education in Software Testing. December 5-7, 2013 in Westlake, Ohio. I’m partnering with Erik Davis and Peter Schrijver to run the workshop, which will be hosted by Hyland Software and supported by the Association for Software Testing. This one is going to happen! (Update: Final Details here!)

Editor, As incoming editor of the site, I need to recruiter writers for 800-1,200 word articles on risk management on software projects, mostly through testing. We’ll need a new contributor every week. If you want pitch guidelines, drop me a comment or email. Also, I could use advice and feedback on what I publish – so check out Stickyminds each week and leave a comment!

The Agile-Testing Playbook. Until July, the Agile Alliance only had one program for testing – the Functional Testing Tools Group. In order to keep a program going with the AA, the board needs to see a new request annually – and no one requested for 2013. So as of right now, the Agile Alliance does not have a formal testing program. The Playbook idea is a collection of methods Agile Teams can use to reduce risk, along with case studies and examples of when those methods are appropriate, collected in some electronic format. We may use a wiki. The request would be for the Agile Alliance to fund a series of workshops design to help build the playbook. Come to think of it, that might make a pretty good book.

Book Club. Why travel to conferences (and waiting eleven months to do it) when we could do a google+ hangout right now? With Book Club, we’d use modern technology to share our experiences reading a book, on chapter at a time. We’d use this to both uncover actionable ‘nuggets’ from the book but also to encourage each other to move from knowledge to action. To get it started, we might cover one chapter of one book, or start with a series of influential papers. These do not have to be about software testing, or even software delivery — they can be about thinking or learning or building anything. We do the hangouts “on air” and they will be recorded and sent into Youtube for posterity. (This is also a chance to connect with the community for folks who might otherwise be limited by geography) 

TestRetreat2014. In 2013 this was a one day event the Saturday before CAST so people could rest on Sunday. It’s a fine model, and we could do it again. We don’t have to wait that long, or we could combine it with CAST, in a different city. One track could be the conference lives tream, we could have a few open/emergent tracks, and perhaps some planned talks, lean coffee, lightning talks, etc. Basically, this would be a extremely reduced-cost conference that might be local/drivable for more people during CAST. 

Fast And Effective Test Interviews. A 1/2 Day Workshop for conferences, public or internal training. 

Agile Planning And Organizing. A workshop for conferences, public or internal training. I delivered this course in a half day as the “tester version” at STANZ; it seemed to have a pretty good response.

Collaborative Software Delivery. The world may be past “named” development methods (does anyone actually “do” out of the box scrum? For that matter, if they did, would that solve your problems, or would it solve the problems EaselCorp had in 1995?). Still, like the Testing Playbook idea, people do like to have a list of options they can pick and choose from. Collaborative Software Delivery is essential my take on Agile Software Development – with a healthy dose of risk management and real testing depth.

Independence. I’ve learned a lot about living as an independent in the past couple of years, and would like to see a thriving community of independents. Yesterday I did a blog post on the decision to become an independent contractor, and I am not super-excited about how it came out. It’s not bad as much as shallow — there is just so much to share. I didn’t even touch consulting, training, starting a studio, or half dozen other topics. At this point, I probably have enough material for a small book, or a workshop or tutorial. Then again, I’ve only been independent for about 28 months now; if I did something like this, I would like my opinions counter-balanced by a few other small business owners.

Want to talk about it?

I’ll be at STARWest in Anaheim, California in late September and Agile Testing Days in Potsdam, Germany in October — or on the internet all the time. (For that matter, I’d like to do a Rocky-Mountain/USA West Swing in spring 2014, and possibly a Australia/Pacific or Indian tour later that year.) If any of these projects is close to your heart; if you’d like to volunteer, or just see it done, please consider a comment or email. Your feedback will help me figure out what to do next …

… would you help me?

4 comments on “Miles to go before I sleep

  1. Thanks for sharing your plans ahead. You have made so many things in this.
    One year back, i started testing with a doubt..but i see many things to learn by a tester and has to be updated with every new thing.

    Spell Check: lives tream – Live Stream (Correct)

    Srinivas Kadiyala

  2. Hi Matt!
    This is a great list of ideas. Being a geographically challenged tester, I specifically like the Book Club and Test Retreat.
    That said, I’d like to help in some way, regardless of the topic.

  3. I like the book club idea and maybe I can help you with that. I think TestRetreat could be structured / formalized into actual meetups before conferences – like StarWest. Not sure what it would do / contain but I think we can work on it…? Talk more at StarWest!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.