Made a mistake: “I should not push the team”

I don’t know why, but I would like to share my mistake (during work time) of the day/week with you. Maybe to prevent you for making the same mistake. On the other hand, I made the mistake already a few times in my career as scrum master. Maybe confessing this mistake to the world, and you, prevents me of making the mistake again. However, I’m afraid I will the mistake again somewhere in the future.

You are probably wondering what did I do?  I’m coaching a new team, they started two months ago and are all experienced with working in an agile environment. I thought I’m a great scrum master, and I know how you should work together as a team.I know what is important for you….

Hmmmmm, could be…  I tried to (indirectly) convince the team that they should work as I think it should be. No surprise, they disagreed… and they are absolutely right!Who am I to say how they should work/communicate… is there any issue in the team currently? No, there isn’t… why should the team than work as I think they should…

It resulted in discussion, that absolutely had no value. After the discussion, with only losers, I took a cup of coffee and did a short retro on myself. The conclusion is in this blog.

And now? I will take a few steps back from the team, let them find their own way. And as soon as they encounter an issue, in the process, communication or something else I can share my experience with them. It is then up to the team to decide how to improve. And I think discussing the issue with the team is already enough for them, they probably don’t need my experience. The only thing that I should do is facilitate the team to discuss the problem and find a solution. I should trust the team that they are capable of organizing them selves, and deliver quality software with a controlled process.

I know how a scrum master should act, I know that telling people what to do doesn’t work, I know I should have trust in people. Still, I make this mistake sometimes. Hopefully for the last time, if not I already apologize to you for the situation when you are part of a new team that I coach. Just remember me to this blog, “I should not push the team”.

Share your vision with you employees to empower them

When you would like steering teams and employees to make decisions that are in line with the vision of the organization, make sure they know the vision!

I had a short discussion with a colleague last week about if we should leave a decision over to a team or should come with a proposal our selves. I had to make a compromise with him in the end. You read my arguments to leave the decision to the team in this blog.

I believe in self steering teams and empowering the knowledge of your employees. Assuming you have qualified people in your project, you should do everything to use their knowledge and experience. You as, manager or as management team have limited knowledge because you are alone or just with a small group of people. The more people think about an issue, the better the solution. You could make a decision or a proposal for an improvement and discuss this improvement with your employees to get feedback. However, it will be your decision or proposal, it will never be completely owned by the employees.

I believe you should be as transparent as possible in your vision or goals of your organization. When the employees know your vision or goal, they will come up with proposals to reach this vision or goal. Additionally, they will feel owner of the improvement and will do almost everything that is in their power to realize the improvement. If they disagree with the vision or goal, they could decide to leave the organization. However, I think you prevent this if possible because this could be waste of knowledge.

When you are not transparent in your goal, it is almost impossible for your employees to come up with proposals for improvement. You can’t empower people when you have a secret or hidden agenda.

It is the partially same as with children. When they do something that is not allowed, for example playing with fireworks. You tell them they are not allowed to play with fireworks, but also why it is not allowed. Even better is to explain why they are not allowed to do something before they would do it.

Please leave your comments…

My Thoughts about Test Certification

It is a real Indian Summer in the Netherlands and while I’m ironing the laundry (Yes, I sometimes take my responsibility as modern man 😉 )and looking out on the garden, I’m thinking about the certification discussion on the Agile Testing Days in Berlin.

What is certification? According to the Oxford Dictionary:

That is a real good description and ends the discussion I think….;)  It does not say anyone is capable of doing something.When I translate this to ISTQB, somewhere in space, somewhere in time, you were able to answer the questions about how ISTQB thinks testing should be.

Anyone who saids (s)he is a good tester, because (s)he is certified is lying. (S)He could be a good tester and have a certification. It is comparable to a driver license, you are allowed to drive a car when you have license, you are not a good driver. To become a good driver you will need experience, a lot of experience.

I think it is good when a tester follows the training of ISTQB. The tester will, probably, learn new techniques, improve his techniques and is able to meet other testers. Discuss testing with other testers! The certification exam is not necessary, attending the training and discussing testers with other testers is already very valuable! We are doing agile for already six years and have developed our own agile approach, it works perfect for us. A lot of things you learn during a ISTQB training are not applicable to our approach. However, it makes you as a tester all round and more experienced.

I have to confess, we valued certification a lot in the past. We were wrong! Why, read the text above. Still, I think following the training is useful. However, instead of doing certification I will ask testers after the training  to write an article, blog, present something at a congress, etc.. By participating in the testing communicty, they will discuss their vision/approach with colleague testers. That is much more valuable then a certification!

People who are attending certification programs are investigating in their capabilities as a tester! That is the really good thing! I think certification it self is not the right approach. It is up to you to convince those people having a certification is not the right approach.

During the session of Markus Gärtner about Alternative Paths forSelf-Education in Software Testing, Micheal Bolton made a remark that the real certification comes from the community. If you are appreciated by the community by writing blogs, articles, giving sessions, you are “certified”. I agree with that remark. However, not everyone is able or has the capability to be active in the community. You could of course, follow blogs, read books and attend congresses. However, how do you get that explicit reward of the community? That is something that is still bothering me. I think feeling rewarded for your knowledge is important for professionals. Some of those professionals believe certification is such a reward, not! How do the testers that follow the community get rewarded for there experience? I don’t know… I hope someone will write a blog or acticle or point me to article that covers this issue.

I hope this blog helps you forming your opinion about certification and I hope your feedback will help me build my opinion.

Oh by the way, I used ISTQB in this article. You could read any organisation that is doing certification, not only ISTQB.