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Team Leadership: Telling Your Testing Stories


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It used to be that your work and results spoke for themselves. No longer is that the case. Today you need to be a better collaborator, communicator, and facilitator so that you focus your teams on delivering value. Join Bob Galen to explore the power of the story, one of the most effective communication paradigms. You can tell stories that create powerful collaboration. You can tell stories that communicate product requirements and customer needs. You can tell stories that inspire teams to deliver results. And you can tell stories that explain your value and successes to your customers and stakeholders. Explore basic storytelling techniques, specific techniques for framing stories for software testing activities, and test leadership storytelling that energizes and guides your teams. Take time to practice telling your stories—and become a much better storyteller and leader within your testing efforts.

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Team Leadership: Telling Your Testing Stories

  1. 1.       rial      Presented by:  Bob Galen  Vel rs  Brought to you by:      340 Corporate Way, Suite   Orange Park, FL 32073  888‐2 MJ  PM Tuto 4/7/2014  1:00 PM          “Team Leadership: Telling Your Testing Stories”      ocity Partne                   300, 68‐8770 ∙ 904‐278‐0524 ∙ ∙ 
  2. 2.                  An agile methodologist, practitioner, and coach based in Cary, NC, Bob Galen helps rship .      Bob Galen ersVelocity Partn guide companies in their adoption of Scrum and other agile methodologies and practices. Bob is a principal agile evangelist at Velocity Partners, a leading agile nearshore development partner; president of RGCG; and frequent speaker on software development, project management, software testing, and team leade at conferences and professional groups. He is a Certified Scrum Coach, Certified Scrum Product Owner, and an active member of the Agile and Scrum Alliances. In 2013 Bob published Scrum Product Ownership–Balancing Value from the Inside Out Reach him at
  3. 3. 1 Team LeadershipTeam Leadership Telling Your Testing Stories Bob Galen President & Principal Consultant RGCG, LLC Introduction Bob Galen Independent Agile Coach (CSC) at RGCG, LLC Principle Agile Evangelist at Velocity Partnersp g g y Somewhere ‘north’ of 30 years overall experience ☺ Wide variety of technical stacks and business domains Developer first, then Project Management / Leadership, then Testing Senior/Executive software development leadership for 20 years Practicing formal agility since 2000 XP, Lean, Scrum, and Kanban experience From Cary, North Carolina Connect w/ me via LinkedIn and Twitter @bobgalen Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC Connect w/ me via LinkedIn and Twitter @bobgalen Bias Disclaimer: Agile is THE BEST Methodology for Software Development… However, NOT a Silver Bullet! 2
  4. 4. 2 Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 3 Outline Intro Elevator Pitch / 30 Second CommercialElevator Pitch / 30 Second Commercial The Story Factor – Annette Simmons The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling – Stephen Denning Tell to Win – Peter Guber Techniques ExamplesExamples Workshop Storytelling Close Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 44
  5. 5. 3 Stories Elevator Pitch You’re in the middle of a testing cycle for a business critical project. You’re testing a single component of a large system - roughly 10 testers are on your team The Vice President of Softwaretesters are on your team. The Vice President of Software development walks up to you in the lab and asks you – “How’s it going?” What do you say? He challenges you on several defects that you’ve entered – disagreeing on priority and severity Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC How do you respond? This is a great opportunity. You’re either ready for it and respond well or you don’t…which do your choose? 5 Another Situation Same situation, although time has passed and the project has missed several of it’s planned Beta dates and things are “dicey”. You’re in the middle of the “last” testing cycle prior to going to Beta test. You’ve found some regressions that you “suspect” will impact the products ability to go to Beta. The Vice President of Marketing walks up to you in the lab and asks you – “How’s it going?” What do you say? How do you say it? Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC Another, even more critical opportunity to make an impression… 6
  6. 6. 4 Stories Elevator Pitch We’re in communicating situations all of the time As Test, QA and Process engineers -As Test, QA and Process engineers We’re representing the product, it’s correctness, completeness and overall quality We’re representing our test team and ourselves We’re the living embodiment of “how is it going?” And “is it ready yet?” I refer to these ongoing and ever present conversations Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC I refer to these ongoing and ever present conversations as a communications & PR effort It’s all of our jobs and we do it anyway So why not learn techniques for doing it often and well? 7 Stories Elevator Pitch - Introduction Break into groups of 2 Take a minute or two and introduce yourselves ShareTake a minute or two and introduce yourselves. Share on: Background information (Overall experience, where you work, etc.) Biggest challenge you face at work Ideas for facing that challenge I’ll time each exchange Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC I ll time each exchange Let’s debrief…how did you do? 8
  7. 7. 5 30 Second “Commercial” In job search circles, they refer to your developing and delivering a “30 second commercial” for networking. It’sdelivering a 30 second commercial for networking. It s a - Quick introduction Concise overview of your background Includes your professional history Delivered to fit the situation, allowed time and specific audience You take the time to develop your “commercials” from Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC You take the time to develop your commercials from your resume, you should have at least a few – to many of them. They’re targeted towards different audiences and situations. 9 30 Second Testing “Commercials” Current work status: What are you working on, what are your recent successes andy g , y your challenges. Very importantly - what’s next? Do you need any help? (escalations, ideas, alternatives, workarounds, etc.) If you have one message to send for status – what would it be? Make sure you communicate it! Current product status: Overall view to your area of testing responsibility Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC What is the overall product stability, feature set maturity and performance? High level defect trends, schedule status and work projections Always practice your commercials - Preparation is the key! 10
  8. 8. 6 Characteristics Keys to Effective Communication Concise communications – remember the “Top 1/3” rulep If you could only say 2-3 things, what would they be? All forms matter – written, verbal, non-verbal, defects Target your communications Their functional role and level within the organization Their point of view (adopt their POV - empathize) What they want to hear and what they need to hear Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC What they want to hear and what they need to hear What will they do with the information you give them Can they “handle” the truth and how much of the truth 11 Story Models Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 12
  9. 9. 7 Power of Storytelling Evolution has “Wired us” for it "Metaphors like "The singer had a velvet voice" and "He had leathery hands" roused the sensory cortex. […] Then, the brains of participants were scanned as they read sentences like "John grasped the object" and "Pablo kicked the ball." The scans revealed activity in the motor cortex, which coordinates the body's movements.“ "When the woman spoke English, the volunteers understood her story, and their brains synchronized. When she had activity in her insula, an emotional brain region, the listeners did too. When her frontal cortex lit up, so did theirs. By simply telling a story, the woman could plant ideas, thoughts and emotions into the listeners' brains.“ Reference here Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 13 Story Telling Model Annette Simmons The Story Factor, published in 2006 Six stories everyone needs to be able to tellSix stories everyone needs to be able to tell People don’t always want data, then want faith. Faith in you. Stories help them to find that faith in you. The importance of ‘connection’ of staying ‘Real’ Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 14
  10. 10. 8 “Who I Am” Stories This is your introduction. If you’re new to a group or role then it’s pure introductionIf you re new to a group or role, then it s pure introduction If you’re new to a situation, then explaining how you faced similar situations might be appropriate Make them personable Try to inject some sort of humor Show vulnerability—illustrate a mistake or a personal flawflaw Be honest and genuine Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 15 “Why Am I Here?” Stories This is the “What’s in it for you” story Explain your career path—why are you particularly skilled to doExplain your career path why are you particularly skilled to do this? Or explain a project path—what events have led to your getting involved? Share what are you trying to achieve, and why Sometimes your very role, charter, or mandate on the part of your company helps here These last two are easy and hard—linking to you. They might also blend together into a single story. Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 16
  11. 11. 9 Vision Stories This is the “What’s in it for others?” story At a leadership level—where are you proposing taking theAt a leadership level where are you proposing taking the organization? Why? looking for alignment… At an agile level—what methods and path will be used? How will we measure success? At a project level—what is the purpose / goal of the project? And how do you envision our supporting that goal? Often its about sharing a high-level strategy Connecting it so that others can ‘See’ itConnecting it so that others can See’ it Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 17 Teaching Stories Sharing your experience Learning from mistakesLearning from mistakes Failing Forward The Wisdom of the Crowd Trusting each other; 5 Dysfunctions of a Team Sharing ‘models’ for maturation and improvement Patterns Anti-patterns; often we can learning more from what didn’t work Solving problems Listen to our customers; take & accept feedback Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 18
  12. 12. 10 5 Dysfunctions of a Team -- Lencioni Inattention to Fear of Lack of Commitment Avoidance of Accountability Results Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC Absence of Trust Fear of Conflict 19 “Values-in-Action” Stories Playing back “actions” stories Team members helping each otherTeam members helping each other Projects under ‘stress’ and how teams’ seemed to rise to the occasion Character checking / building events Agile teams holding to their “quality commitments” and time-box agreements Persistence, patience, staying the course Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 20
  13. 13. 11 “I Know What You’re Thinking” Stories This is your opportunity to address Fear Uncertainty and DoubtFear, Uncertainty, and Doubt Dissention Historical patterns Trust in leadership vs. Trust in your teams Undermining, lack of true support, waiting things out We don’t address performance issues Everyone treated the same Nobody is ever fired or released based on poor performance New ‘Sheriff’ in Town; new rules and a new spirit Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 21 Story Telling Model Stephen Denning The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling published in 2005. Author of Squirrel Inc. Similarities to The Story Factor, but with a leadership and more in-depth focus. Denning has gone on to become immersed in innovation, leadership reinvention, and agile methods. Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 22
  14. 14. 12 8 Narrative Patterns Stephen Denning 1. **Motivate Others to Action Using narrative to ignite action and implement new ideas 2. Build Trust in You Using narrative to communicate who you are 3. Build Trust in your Company Using narrative to build your brandUsing narrative to build your brand 4. Transmit your Values Using narrative to instill organizational values Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 23 8 Narrative Patterns Stephen Denning 5. **Getting Others Working Together Using narrative to get things done collaboratively 6. Share Knowledge Using narrative to transmit knowledge and understanding 7. Tame the Grapevine Using narrative to neutralize gossip and rumorUsing narrative to neutralize gossip and rumor 8. Create and Share Your Vision Using narrative to lead people into the future Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 24
  15. 15. 13 Tell to Win Peter Guber 1. Motivation Your, be intentional, passion, engage 2. Audience Render an experience, connect, align with 3. Goal Purposeful, build an ongoing relationship (not a point transaction) 4. Interaction For them to own, secret sauce 5. Content Its everywhere, your own experiences, what moves you Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 25 General Techniques Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 26
  16. 16. 14 Basic Framework Still quite effective… Tell them what you’re about to tell them Tell themTell them Tell them what you just told them Oreo Cookie Model (sandwich) From a Planning and a Strategy perspective, consider:From a Planning and a Strategy perspective, consider: Opening Moves Middle Game End Game Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 27 The “One Thing” When it comes to risky, controversial, and emotional conversations, skilled people find a way to get all relevant information out into the open. That’s it. At the core of every successful conversation lies the free flow of relevant information. People openly and Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC the free flow of relevant information. People openly and honestly express their opinions, share their feelings, and articulate their theories. They willingly and capably share their views, even when their ideas are controversial or unpopular. 28
  17. 17. 15 The Pareto Principal Crossing the Chasm Communicate mostly to the 80% Communicate mostly to the Early Adopters and theCommunicate mostly to the Early Adopters and the Majority Tailor your message to these folks; reach out to their interests, connecting to them Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 29 Turning Points Major shift points or nexus points can be useful in stories A major shift or turning point in your life A major external turning point to you personally, your group, your organization; M&A activity A major turning point in a project A key player leaving your team Example: I’ve often used lay-offs as transition points for major shifts in my career. From the ashes…rises another chapter. My two books have resulted from these transitions… Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 30
  18. 18. 16 Connecting to Your Audience Reference their perspectives Reference their contextReference their context What would you want to hear IF you were in their shoes What sorts of history relates to your topic Walk about, make eye contact Talk about what you’d like to help the audience do, howTalk about what you d like to help the audience do, how you’d like to serve them Keep the Servant Leadership mindset in mind throughout Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 3131 Admiration Someone you knew when you were growing up Someone in the organization who has met a lot to youSomeone in the organization who has met a lot to you The person you admire most in your organization Someone who did better in the organization than anyone expected Someone who mentored you (showed you the ropes) in the organization Someone who handled adversity incredibly well in the organization Someone who is a humble servant leader Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 32
  19. 19. 17 Goals & Objectives You can’t force collaboration. You can encourage it towards specific expectations surrounding Goals & Objectives… Major initiative Major project Major new methodology Challenging new technology Q t l / A lQuarterly / Annual goal-setting Connecting alignment to the top-line strategies We’re all being measured together Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 33 Clarifying & Listening Were you listening? Play it back to me…what were the key points? What do you think will be the most challenging parts of the strategy? Is this the right direction? Does anyone see crucial adjustments that need to be made? Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 34
  20. 20. 18 Humor Self deprecating humor can be incrediblySelf deprecating humor can be incredibly powerful in stories— particularly as an introductory device Share internal stories that are commonly views as humorous Twist questions around, be playful with your audience You don’t have to be a comedian; be yourself Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 35 Adding Context Add appropriate breadth and depth to the context that folks normally wouldn’t have—folks normally wouldn t have Risk context Organizational context Impact context Customer context Dependency context Quality context Leadership context Technical context Revenue context Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 36
  21. 21. 19 Power of Transparency 13 Behaviors that Foster & Increase Trust 1. Talk Straight 2. Demonstrate Respect 3. Create Transparency 4. Right Wrongs Sh L l 8. Confront Reality 9. Clarify Expectations 10. Practice Accountability 5. Show Loyalty 6. Deliver Results 7. Get Better 10. Practice Accountability 11. Listen First 12. Keep Commitments 13. Extend Trust Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 37 Visualization Try to paint a picture Directionally committed – Burn the ships behind you Let pictures do some of your talking for you Mine the organization for supportive “pictures” Defect reports, project failures, M&A intentions, success & failure email, metrics, virtually anything that adds to the imagery Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 38
  22. 22. 20 Group-based Stories Engaging multiple story-tellers Defining a strategy around a group with differentDefining a strategy around a group with different Perspectives Stories Audience Connections For example, we’re “ Going Agile” E D l t Q lit P d tEngage Development + Quality + Product Engage team member(s) from pilot team(s) Engage leadership to speak to the core drivers Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 39 When trying to make a point… Let it emerge… Don’t start with it: This is a story about incredible courage. At the end, you will aspire to be like me Or end with: And now I expect you all to be like me Allow everyone to come to their own conclusions. Of course, you can recount what it means to YOU Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 40
  23. 23. 21 Safety In order to get feedback the environment has to be considered ‘Safe’considered Safe Commit to “What happens in Vegas…” for all story telling session Don’t be afraid to disagree or debate, just don’t take follow-on actions Tell stories about how much you appreciate candor, feedback, and truth-telling It will take time to establish trust, but well worth it. Safety needs to be 100% Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 41 What to try? Find opportunities for stories Keep a diary; remember key eventsKeep a diary; remember key events When in doubt or when there’s a ‘void’…start Remember: we can all tell stories, think about your interviews When it feels like its time to stop…stop Walk around, make eye contact, take questions Be yourself; don’t try to be someone else It’s better to tell a story badly, than to not tell one at all when the opportunity is there Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 42
  24. 24. 22 What to avoid? Ridicule Lying or stretching the truthLying or stretching the truth Poking fun Mean spiritedness Getting personal Complexity – multi-threaded stories Making it about youMaking it about you Negativity, pessimism, excessive realism Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 43 Group-based Workshop Storytelling Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 44
  25. 25. 23 Example Stories / Situations I want to mine everyone for story examples Situations where you told a story effectively Situations where a story would have worked, but you didn’t leverage it Observations from your history that could be re-framed into an effective story This is NOT storytelling, but just brainstorming & mining examples from each other… Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 45 I want you to break out into groups of three We’ll rotate around 3 primary roles The notion of a Triad We ll rotate around 3 primary roles Story-teller Story audience Story observer We’ll explore each of you telling a story One of you volunteers with a potential story Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 46 One of you volunteers with a potential story All three will strategize on the structure of the story Tell the story Debrief the story 46
  26. 26. 24 Introductions You have 6 minutes, two minutes each Properly introduce yourselves to your Triad teamProperly introduce yourselves to your Triad team Professional introduction: work, how long, career path, current title, current responsibilities, likes & dislikes Personal introduction: family, children, where you live, vacation, hobbies, volunteering, recent books you’ve read In the last year, what are compelling truths you’ve discovered?y , p g y What do the next five years hold in store for you? Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 47 Imagine you’ve just joined your current group as a leader or senior contributor Story #1 Introduction or senior contributor The group is tight-nit and tenure of quite long, so you want to make a good first impression to You decide to tell a story about yourself—as a means of sharing some insights as a way of introduction One that – shares more about who you are (either professionally personally or both) Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 48 professionally, personally, or both) Also, one that sets the stage for some changes you plan on making within the organization 48
  27. 27. 25 Think of your toughest, most challenging projects that you’ve encountered in your career Story #2 Confidence & Direction you ve encountered in your career Think of what made it challenging, and more importantly, what were the factors that you brought to bear to deliver the project Get down to the essence of that made it work out. Now translate these lessons to a current project and share a story relating the pervious to this Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 49 share a story relating the pervious to this one…connecting the dots and trying to inspire confidence and direction 49 Your current organization has decided to go agile Leadership is basically driving it down from above so Story #3 Vision – “Going Agile” Leadership is basically driving it down from above, so you and your team have little choice but to “get on board” You do feel it’s the right decision, but for your own reasons. You also realize it will be a great cultural challenge for your team. Many of whom have been around for 20+ years Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 50 around for 20+ years This is your first exposure to them of what's about to happen, why, and how you expect it to evolve… 50
  28. 28. 26 Your interviewing a new test manager for within your team. She’s come wildly recommended and the interview Story #4 Interview team. She s come wildly recommended and the interview has proven the accolades to be understated. She’s outstanding You’ve been given the closing position on the interview She asks you about the culture and why you get up in the morning. What’s exciting about your job and why are you there Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 51 you there. Here’s your chance to WOW her and close the deal… 51 Quite frankly, you wish they would cancel this project. It’s over schedule by 6 weeks and testers on it need to Story #5 Project Status It s over schedule by 6 weeks and testers on it need to move onto their next effort—so everyone is multi-tasking and stretched The software doesn’t meet the clients needs and the development team doesn’t know what they’re doing Each release has more defects than the last and your in a death spiral of fix test refix Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 52 a death spiral of fix – test – refix The VP of Product Development has asked you for an assessment of the situation from a “QA perspective” for himself and the rest of the leadership team—now… 52
  29. 29. 27 You’ve been on-board as a senior test manager for 3 months. Story #6 Agile Automation Initiative months. You were initially shocked that there was no automation strategy in place and that only about 10% of the regressions suite was automated It’s a tremendous resource and time waste and you’ve just sold management on your ideas for investing in automation Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 53 automation You now want to share your vision with the testing team and created a shared strategy that will quickly change the dynamics… 53 Wrap-up Hope we challenged your existing• Hope we challenged your existing assumptions a bit • Inspire you to change your view towards Automation ROI and investment • What did I miss? Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC • Final questions or discussion? Thank you! 5454
  30. 30. 28 Contact Info Bob Galen Principal Consultant, RGalen Consulting Group, L.L.C. Experience-driven agile focused training, coaching & consulting Cell: (919) 272-0719 BlogsBlogs Project Times - BA Times - Podcast on all things ‘agile’ - 55Copyright © 2014 RGCG, LLC 55