Autonomy – Taking the wheel

I remember when the Product Owner stepped into our room with a new user story. He asked if we could make a minor change to one of our web pages. What he did not know is that nobody understood the code, nor the ancient documentation that was written for this webpage.  After running a few tests we even discovered that half of the features did not even work. We made a proposition: we implement this user story if we get three extra weeks to rebuild this page and rewrite the documentation. Luckily our awesome Product Owner understood our situation and we managed to get these extra weeks.

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Mastery - being the best version of yourself

I was 21. I just graduated from MBO college, it was night and I was strolling around town with a couple of friends. We just celebrated our graduation and did not want to go home. After a few hours, we got lost and arrived at this big haunted mansion. We saw a sleek figure standing at the entrance. He was looking directly at us, and asked: “Would you like a tour?”, inviting us in. For a second we looked at each other and then we succumbed to our curiosity, following the man into the mansion. With no idea what could happen next.

Throughout my life, I have done several stupid things like the example above. And I knew these were not my brightest moments, but my curiosity simply took over. I wanted to explore or discover something (and I also love to get a good story out of it).

But whether you love taking risks and doing stupid things, or you prefer to dive into books and study in a safe zone, we all have the same internal drive to learn, to grow and to become the best version of ourselves. This is called ‘mastery’ and it is the subject of this blog post.

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What are we doing? And why?

What are we doing? Why are we implementing this sorry excuse of a user story? What will this user story achieve in the bigger picture? Is there even a bigger picture?

I have attended several refinements as a coach, where I was waiting for those questions to arise... Unfortunately, they are rarely asked. Usually, because there is no easy answer to these questions. The difficult truth is that we all like to please others, so we would rather stick our heads in the sand and hope everything will turn out fine.

And that is exactly what we get. Instead of having an awesome job, doing cool stuff and making a difference: our job will be just that, it will be fine. And it could be so much better, with some practises I will share in this blog.Read more →

Misvattingen rondom testautomatisering - Misvatting 1: The Silver Bullet

Deze blog post is de eerste in een reeks van posts ter wegneming van misvattingen rondom het thema testautomatisering. Zie hier voor het inleidende artikel.

Misvatting

Testautomatisering is de oplossing voor al onze problemen rondom testen en kwaliteit.”

Toelichting

Dit is helaas nog steeds een gangbare opvatting onder voornamelijk, doch zeker niet uitsluitend, ongeïnformeerde stakeholders op (lijn-) managementniveau. Daarbij blijft deze misvatting ook vaak onuitgesproken. Vanwege dit impliciete karakter, blijft deze zienswijze doorgaans lang bestaan, omdat zij niet (of te laat) onderkend en daarmee ook niet (tijdig) gecorrigeerd wordt.

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Misvattingen rondom testautomatisering - Introductie

De geschiedenis van testautomatisering beslaat inmiddels een periode van enkele tientallen jaren. Deze discipline is echter pas de laatste jaren écht in een stroomversnelling geraakt en ze lijkt nu voor het eerst ook definitief door te breken en zich te bestendigen, als een relatief volwassen vakgebied.

Deze ontwikkeling is een gevolg van onder andere de maturatie van tooling en frameworks, de adoptie door grote spelers zoals Google en de succesvolle opkomst van software development methodologieën die testautomatisering als randvoorwaarde hebben of waarvan testautomatisering een logisch gevolg is.

Omdat testautomatisering in deze zin genomen nog maar een relatief jong vakgebied is, bestaan er binnen dat vakgebied nog steeds een hoop misvattingen (en daarmee valkuilen). Zelfs ten aanzien van allerlei fundamentele thema’s. Deze misvattingen bestaan in een organisatie vaak niet alleen binnen allerlei (hogere) managementlagen en groepen van (meer direct betrokken) business stakeholders (zoals product owners), maar zelfs binnen allerlei groepen van practitioners (zoals developers en testers).

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Eight Characteristics of Successful Software Projects

We do a lot of software projects at Xebia Software Development. We work most of the time at our client’s location, in their teams. Together we improve the quality of their software, their process, and engineering culture. As such, we’ve seen a lot of projects play out. Most of these efforts succeeded but some failed. Recently we did a retrospective to learn from these experiences. The result is this opinionated list of characteristics of successful software projects.
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3 key ingredients that make you a better developer

IT is a booming business, but that doesn’t mean everyone who’s drawn to it will become a great developer. Many students sign up for an IT education for the wrong reasons. I've had classmates who enrolled in IT-related degree programs because they liked gaming or working with computers. Maybe they created a website for a neighbor or relative with a small business and thought, "I could do this for a living.”  Yes, these are good indicators of an interest in IT, but these things alone are not enough to guarantee you'll become a great developer. There are three key ingredients you need to become a great developer.
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De future fit organisatie - praktijkervaringen deel 1: De kracht en waarde van interne Agile Coaches

Een succesvolle transformatie naar een wendbare, future fit organisatie begint bij het neerzetten van de basis voor de borging. Een organisatie die start met heldere en begrijpelijke cultuurwaarden die het fundament vormen waarop de organisatie steunt. Niet alleen IT en/of Business los van elkaar maar samen met een gemeenschappelijke “purpose” gericht op (klant)waarde. De Agile Coach heeft hierin een belangrijke rol als cultuurdrager van de nieuwe organisatie en als katalysator van de verandering. De transformatie die ING Nederland doormaakt is hier een sterk voorbeeld van.

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And now for something (not quite completely) different - Cognitive relativism in consultancy

Since joining the test automation unit of Xebia (June 2015), I have written some blog posts, all revolving around the topic of ..., well, ... test automation. However, there are a lot of other topics, across various domains, that have my interest and with regard of which I hold pretty strong, sometimes even passionate, views and opinions. These domains and topics are partially technical and partially non-technical in nature.

To be able to express my views and opinions as pertaining to the latter, that is non-technical, domains, I am launching a series of posts under the moniker of 'something (not quite completely) different'. The qualification of 'not quite completely' is in place to indicate that, although these posts will address non-technical topics, they are nevertheless relevant to the world of (test automation) consultancy.

This post will be the first of these and in it I will be riding one of my all-time favourite hobby horses, namely fighting a commonly held and, as is my opinion, untenable and quite dangerous post-modern notion. It is a misconception that I have to deal with (and even struggle with) on an almost daily basis.

It is the fallacy that there is no truth in discourse (or anywhere else, for that matter), but for the multitude of subjectively held opinions that are all equally and to the same extent true and valuable. Sometimes a variation on this is, that an opinion may be true for whomever holds that opinion, while, at the same time, it may be untrue for anybody else (since we all 'create' our own truths which do not necessarily need to be in coherence with each other). A popular adage to summarize this view, is the often used phrase ‘perception is truth’ (or ‘perception is reality’). Most often people simply state that ‘all truth is relative’ or ‘there is no absolute truth’. Lots of people also (albeit mostly unbeknownst to them) quote his Dudeness (you may also address him as ‘Duder’ or ‘El Duderino’):

Dude!

In more technical terms, this fashionable belief is often designated by the phrase 'cognitive relativism'.

Employment of cognitive relativism is typically opportunistic in intent and, as such, bears all the hallmarks of a deus ex machina. It is a cheap, lazy, shallow, cowardly, uninformed/thoughtless and ultimately hysterical pseudo-intellectual stance, as will become apparent in the remainder of this post. Moreover, it is the ultimate discussion killer. But above all: it is absurd! Therefore, as we will see, it can be formally proven to be untrue by way of reductio ad absurdum.

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