Goal Setting towards agile

Goal Setting towards agile

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there” Yogi Berra

Everytime I get asked how to implement agile in a team I ask a simple clarifying question back.


The answer to this question is often not very forthcoming. There is often no concrete reason. There is often no tangible benefit for moving the organisation or team to an agile or rapid delivery way of working.

  • Sometimes it’s because their boss wants them to….
  • Sometimes it’s because everyone else is agile…..

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A New Year – 2014 Goals

I’m officially out of my self imposed social media hibernation. I tend to creep away from my online presence and catch up with my family over December and January. It’s time to venture out and start interacting again.

I have a load of new and exciting goals planned for this year. I’ve spent the last week doing my planning and plotting for this year, as well as a review of last years goals.

I normally hint at a few of my goals via this blog and on twitter but this time around I’m planning on making my goals more visible. It might make me commit to them further 🙂

So here are a few things I’ll be doing this year that are relevant to those interested in software testing.

Goal 1 – Actually post stuff to my blog

Right now I have 233 blog posts in draft.

Some near completion, some with barely a few lines of ideas.

I suspect some of them will get deleted; they will be either too cutting edge, too ranty or too boring. So I guess I’ll have about 150 to post out on my blog by the time I’ve culled them (and allowing for new ideas to emerge).

There is a theme this year.

The theme will be “hiring testers in to a rapid release development team”. I will explore what it takes to find and hire good testers, but I will also explore some ideas around cutting down the silos between functional roles and creating a more holistic fast paced development team.

Goal 2 – Release “Idle Thoughts On Test Management”

My first book, Remaining Relevant and Employable, has done pretty well despite little promotion.

I actually got side tracked writing Remaining Relevant when I should have been writing Idle Thoughts.

I’ve got the basic chapter headings and quite a lot of content, but I won’t be making it public for a few months yet. I will be using LeanPub again to publish this second book. Expect this book to be minimalist and cut down. I want it to be succinct and to the point.

Idle Thoughts is basically a collection of short stories and essays from my time as a Test and Development Manager. Fulfilling many roles through my career (technical author, tester, support engineer, manager, scrum master, agile coach/consultant, etc) has allowed me to blend all of this experience together. I hope to be able to offer some interesting and unique views about test management. Consider it part observation and part experience report.

You can see some of the research content I’m collecting over at my Idle Thoughts Postachio blog. The posts on that blog will arrive in flurries, as will chapters for this book on to LeanPub.

Here are the chapters I’m going to be writing about. I’d be keen to get some feedback as to what else you may want to read about. It’s not complete yet, so expect the following to change somewhat. (Bold and underlined are section headers in the book)


        • Purpose, Audience and Context – the basics of communication
        • Communicate 10 x more than you currently do
        • Time your communication right
        • Communication doesn’t happen through a process tool
        • Primary, secondary, or made up information source?
        • Active listening for test managers
        • It’s active content, not static documents
        • Don’t skip face-to-face communication
        • Private blogging for sharing of ideas
        • Don’t sit on information, it won’t make the team richer
        • How to run a good meeting
        • Broadcast important stuff, but only if you need to
        • Selling testing
        • Build a communication plan
        • DUJWC (don’t use jargon when communicating)

Productivity and Learning

        • Be Quick and Nimble
        • Environment efficiency
        • Create a practice plan
        • Follow your intuition
        • Busy does not mean productive
        • Where does your day go?
        • Don’t take on too much
        • Stop people burning out
        • Learners will inherit the world


        • We can’t all do what other people can do
        • We are all great. But realise your limits.
        • No job will last forever. Projects are the future.
        • It’s not good. It’s not bad. It just is.
        • Empathy


        • Lean Testing – A myth
        • What a lot of tests, but which one shall I run?
        • Don’t worry about the solution. Work out what the problem is first.
        • Draw a frame and place your testing inside it (but don’t be bound by it)
        • Don’t adopt every technique without pause for thought (sometimes just a few techniques are more valuable)
        • Copy what other people do, where relevant
        • Don’t master an approach or technique just to say you’ve mastered it.
        • The team are testing, but is the product getting better?
          • A difference between intent and outcome
        • You’ll never know whether a team will work until you put them together
        • Teams are not perfect.
        • Look for times when your testing doesn’t work
        • Do you have a vision and purpose, or are you just getting through the day
        • Make decisions. Decision makers are important.
        • With a wider awareness you will be surprised less often
        • Apply constraints – they breed creativity
        • Standards versus trial and error
        • Norms are for breaking. Sometimes.
        • Allow time for innovation
        • People will game the system (if they want to)
        • Leading edge metrics
        • Improving the process is one of your main goals
        • Always go and see for yourself. Or trust your proxy.
        • Test artifacts are an output, not a strategic direction or end goal
        • A test plan is not your testing. A test case is not your testing. The testing being done is your testing.
        • Fix the process first – then bring in technology
        • Don’t obsess over tools
        • Relationships are your key to success. So be friendly.
        • Values versus principles

What is the job of a test manager

        • To hire the right people
        • To empower people to achieve the business goals
        • To develop people to their potential
        • To make decisions
        • To encourage the right behaviour
        • To reduce costs in the right place, but not at the expense of delivery
        • To be communicated through
        • To encourage a sense of learning in the team
        • To help people through tough times

Note taking

        • The importance of good note taking
        • Quick capture
        • Information scraps
        • Types of notes
        • Note taking styles
          • Outlining
          • Mind mapping
        • Digital versus Analog
        • 60 Days proof
        • To Do lists
        • Kanban
          • Visualise your work
          • Work in progress
        • Examples of note taking and capture

Managing a test budget

        • Spend your employers money wisely
        • Is spending money going to solve your problem?
        • Lack of money often leads to innovation

Idle Thoughts

        • Don’t accept limitations
        • We are too young and we are too early in our careers to standardize us.
          • Don’t apply limitations to yourself, your team or even worse, the community.
        • Stop casting yourself as a victim
          • You are as equally important as anyone else on the team. (i.e. There is nothing wrong with you)
        • Experience as much as possible
        • End goals are important, but so to is the serendipity and experience of the journey
          • Don’t always be laser like focused.
          • Take the time to look around
          • Make time for people
          • Allow conversations to meander
          • You cannot organise an accident
        • You will not please everyone
        • You don’t need permission to do Exploratory Testing
        • Communities are where the future lies – not rules and edicts
        • Be skeptical.
          • Is it always true? Is there ever a time when it is not true?
        • Make time for thinking.
        • Stop trying to measure the person.
        • Grow some thick skin. Very thick skin.

Goal 3 – Deliver an awesome presentation…somewhere.

As usual I am hoping to speak at a conference this year. Details to follow.

With the above writing plans I won’t be speaking or attending many other events. I am taking the entire NVM test team to TestBash, whoot!, but other than that I doubt I will be at many events this year.

Goal 4 – Continue to build an amazing development team at NVM

I’ve obviously got some great work goals to achieve. I will be continuing to improving the process, grow the team and deliver the best service we can for our customers. I won’t be sharing my work goals here though 🙂

Goal 5 – Start mentoring someone

I’ve been mentoring people on and off for many years, but I might be making a step to make this a permanent goal, so that each year I can help to mentor one person in their career.


I’ve also got some very personal goals which I won’t be airing here either 🙂

Exciting year ahead.

Do you plan goals relating to your career?

If so, did you want to share them in the comments section?