Speaking at EuroSTAR testing conference – 2015

This year I will be Speaking at EuroSTAR testing conference 2015.

Don't Bug Me - picture from EuroSTAR 2014
Don’t Bug Me – picture from EuroSTAR 2014

I am hosting a tutorial on the Monday on communication skills for testers/engineers.

In this tutorial I will be splitting the day in to 4 main topical parts.

  1. A slight dive in to the science of communication where I will introduce a few simple models and explain a few core concepts like noise, redundancy, entropy and PAC.
  2. Written communication skills; In this session we will dive in to improving and simplifying written communication by adding more tone of voice (i.e. writing like you speak) and also using simpler language where possible.
  3. Non-Verbal communication; This is a great fun session that I’ve run a number of times before. It fascinates people how simply learning to control your own body language, and read other people’s body language, can seriously improve your communication skills. I call non-verbal knowledge a super-power and you can use it for both good and bad.
  4. In this final section we will answer any questions raised throughout and we will go through some common scenarios and talk through how written and non-verbal communication can make a difference: Giving Feedback, Job Interviews, Working out who the leader is, Giving a good presentation, and more

It will be an intense day and I suspect many people will feel challenged and frazzled by the amount we will learn. But it won’t be overwhelming and we’ll run at a pace that keeps everyone engaged and involved. It will be a VERY interactive session so don’t sign up unless you’re willing to get talking to others in the group and sharing your ideas. Overall though, it will be fun. Lots of fun and you’ll come out of the session in possession with some new superpowers (well, at least a great knowledge of non-verbal comms).

On the Wednesday I will be giving a talk on becoming a manager. Most managers don’t get taught anything about management they simply become a manager either from being good at it, working at the company for so long, or sometimes just being the best person in a given role.

Some of these managers jump in to it, learn and iterate as we go. Sadly though, many don’t take the time to learn how to be a good manager and I suspect we’ve all worked for one of those sorts of managers before.

Management is REALLY hard and it reveals truths about yourself that can cut deep. It also pushes your skills and mind in many directions but this is good, it helps you to grow. It’s a great course in self improvement.

In this session I will cover ten aspect (with a bonus number eleven) of becoming a manager.

1. Management is about people

– Your job is to hire, retain and ensure great business value for/from all of your staff.

– Relationships are how you do this. It’s all about people.

– Managers who don’t like people, don’t often make good managers (at least in the long term)

2. You must make decisions and empower others to make decisions – even if they turn out to be bad ones

– Most people become managers because they are good at making decisions

– Great managers learn to delegate this decision making to others, whilst providing a safe environment for them to make these decisions in (i.e not a blame culture)

– Not all decisions will be right. Learning to live with bad decisions, learning to pivot from bad decisions and learning to spot the heuristics of a bad decision are important skills you’ll need to learn, but also teach others.

3. Role power

– In some people’s eyes you are considered to have role power. And in some circumstances you do. Use it wisely. But see point number 10.

4. Don’t standardise

– Creating standards is a sure fire way to create a standard organisation and a standard set of employees.

– Everyone is different and you should embrace that and play to people’s strengths

– Every single customer is exceptional, every single employee is exceptional, you should help to create a team that becomes exceptional too.

5. Give feedback

– Your job is to give feedback. And sometimes that feedback is hard. I’ll cover a simple technique to help you, but trust me, the first time you have to give bad feedback is not easy.

6. You add little value to most day to day operational problems

– The reality is that you’re a manager now and your team are the best people to solve the work they are doing.

– You add little value to the day to day work your team are doing. You exist to create an environment for them to do the best work, a safe environment to experiment, cover for them when the poop hits the fan (and it will) and be the arbiter of tough decisions (financial, hiring, firing).

7. Selling the right process (better testing) is your job

– If you’re a manager in an organisation that does testing then you will have to sell good testing.

– Everyone, no matter what their role or experience, knows how to do testing. It’s not that sort of testing you’ll likely need.

– You need a different story teller at the head of the testing table – and that story teller is you. You’ll need to learn to sell the vision of testing as you need that testing to become, and this is hard work.

8. Awareness fields and surprises

– You need to become company smart right from the start.

– Your team need to do this also.

– The wider you awareness fields, the less surprised you should be. But be open to black swans.

9. Ask critical questions

– Is that always true?

– Is there ever a case when it isn’t true?

– Is the opposite always false?

– If you don’t ask critical questions, or empower your team to ask them, you’ll never make the process or system better – and a managers job is to improve the system.

10. You don’t control anyone

– You don’t control anyone.

– You do control yourself.

11. Bonus point – Management is not leadership

– Management and leadership are two different things. It is entirely possible to be one without the other.

Phew. A lot to get through in a 40 minute talk but I’ll make it breezy, fun and engaging. Hopefully 🙂 I’ll also likely submit a paper which I will make available online after with further deep dives.

See you at EuroSTAR 2015. And if you want to get there and want 10% off the ticket price then use the following discount code:


Isn’t EuroSTAR expensive?

A little, but you get a lot of talks, a lot of interaction and the conversations that happen outside of the talks are usually epic. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last few years of EuroSTAR.

I’ve never been to a conference before!

I have a guide for you 🙂 – The Blazingly Simple Guide To Surviving EuroSTAR.