A Moolya Day out with Paul Holland

The Rapid Software Testing training experience sharing by Amit Vyas, Himansha Tyagi, Esha Meda and Mithun Chandrashekar.

Paul Holland, one of the Rapid Software Testing trainers in the world was with Moolya testers for a week this August. He helps companies transform their software testing from “old school” outsourced testing to brain-engaged, context-driven software testing and is currently acting as the Senior Director of testing at Medidata Solutions.

On one of the day from his week here with us, we planned a day trip with him to Eagleton Golf Resort, Bangalore. The day was scheduled in such a way where the team could not only dive into the famous swimming pool there but also to Paul’s understanding of context-driven testing and the way (flavor of) testing (that) is done at Medidata.

Moolya being the testing partner to Medidata, the topics discussed by Paul were more context based. The day began rather early for all of us where we woke up super early to be able to reach office by 7:30 AM. I KNOW 7:30 AM!! The only other plus point to that was a pollution & traffic free – soothing ride to the office. The next highlight of the day was the bus ride from office to Eagleton. Team dancing on rapchick songs at 8 in the morning did confuse the body. Our bodies kept asking what time is it? 8 AM or 8 PM?  

Anyhow, once at the resort, a delicious breakfast was waiting. It did not disappoint us. The morning was not just filled with idly sambhar but was also filled with Paul’s feedback on the way Moolyans have been performing up till the day.

Feedback is not always rosy. Feedback is not supposed to be rosy. Feedback’s are supposed to be true. Rosy feedback do not add as much value to you as much a thorn-filled feedback.

We got a mix of both. Through continuous discussion on what is happening and what is causing it to happen, our teams were (probably) able to reach a ground where we knew what trees to plant first? (which is a separate discussion altogether)

Paul started the show (read NOT Training) with a magic trick. The best part was that he told us how it worked. Surprised? Yes, that’s not how magicians work right? Paul isn’t a magician. He was there to pinpoint to the fact that we as testers (or just humans) sometimes miss things, not because we are not observant enough but because we keep looking someplace else and in due course, our mind does not jump out of that bias and keeps looking for things in the same place. How do you break bias? How do you break the invisible rules that do not allow the brain the Eureka moment? How?

Simple, by taking a step back. Tracing what happened, what is happening, what should happen? Tracing the root of the problem AND the objective of the desired solution.

The most important part of the solution is to realize that there is a problem. Realizing that we have a bias. Realizing that we are not breaking enough rules. (Not responsible for people breaking law after reading this. DO NOT. Know the right rules to break)

Even before the magic trick happened, Paul undertook his favorite Name activity. Cannot tell you what it is. (I did great by the way). The activity showed the difference between what “Product owners” have in mind before they begin and what us as “testers/programmers” have in mind from our previous experiences and how this difference in understanding leads to a crappy product that has to be either accepted in its crappy format or in a little less crappy form after some modifications of course.

After our constant fight (& losing) with the wifi at the resort (Thank you Telecoms!). Pradeep rose to the occasion and shared his mobile hotspot which was not that great a relief but it still saved the day. (Again thank you but no thank you Airtel)

Bad Wifi, Bad Electricity, Bad Projector screen could not stop us from receiving (I believe so) what Paul intended to. This receiving was from a mix of games, magic tricks, Pattern tests, discussions, live Q/A round on presentation from Sohil & Aman, a few slides, Food & Beer (Which I don’t drink, Surendra did enjoy that a lot – Best work day for him, was it not?)

The Games part involved two games – the famous Dice Game & the Sets Deck (Both Pattern finder), these two games took a better part of the afternoon where different teams of 4 & 5 fought to become the first to find a pattern. The highlight was Paul giving final pointers about what he observed during the key activities:

  • We realized that a few teams could not break the chain of biased thoughts.
  • Teams kept repeating the same activity to find the pattern.
  • They changed multiple factors at the same time.
  • Teams sticking to their assumption of the pattern and sticking to candidates that justified their pattern.
  • Some teams made quick progress but then fell back to the same loop of thoughts.
  • Teams did not share their findings with other teams (I think that’s obvious, given we all thought it was a competition – while it was not.)

The other key activity of the day was a pattern finder ruby file developed/contributed to by Michael Bolton, Ben Simo, Pradeep Soundararajan, James Bach, Jon Bach, and Stephane Elie. It was where we had to find a pattern (AGAIN) in the minimum number of tests.

The outcome of this task was for us to under  stand how there are distractions in testing that deviates us from our goals and how to identify them. How to be aware of the end objective and align our testing accordingly? (There were many more, but mentioning them here might ruin the activity for the readers)

This also marked the end of the sessions. (I won’t lie, It was a relief. Not because we didn’t like the sessions, but we were in a RESORT!!! We wanted to go jump in the pool)

This entire day was a different learning, was a meeting point with the wrongs (& the rights) that we might have been doing consciously/unconsciously, and as said earlier. The first step to solve a problem is to realize that there is a problem, the second is to find the solution, third is the implementation. It was our realization. The solution was found. The evolved implementation is ongoing.

The day ended alongside the peaceful pool. A few of us getting drenched, a few of us just taking in the serenity of the open green golf course under the clear sky.

A big shout out to Surendra Katperi our project coordinator for organizing the entire thing nicely. Many more to come.


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