General thoughts after Agile Testing Days 2015

Now that I’ve been home for two days again, it is time to reflect on the past week. I arrived full of anticipation on Sunday night, and left on Friday morning. I had a bit of a ‘off this world’ feeling the entire time, leaving all the habits from home behind, leaving normal work behind. Going to ATD is a bit of a vacation, a bit of homecoming too, and a lot of loving! The anticipation I had was mostly based on the fact that I was a ‘real speaker’ for the first time, so I wanted to deliver a good talk. On the other hand I was also very curious to see if, for the 3rd time in a row, the conference experience would be amazing again. And boy it was.

On Sunday evening, after going for a long walk + dinner with my boyfriend (the sweetheart went with me for the first 1,5 days), we arrived in the bar to find already about 20 people sitting there! That was when the conference started for me, although I still had a free day on Monday (until speakers dinner). Seeing all the familiar faces made me very happy. That is the homecoming feeling that I guess many returning visitors experience.

Then on Monday the Speakers Dinner was the first official moment for me. It was awe-inspiring  to see a hundred speakers gathered in one room. It’s amazing how much the conference has grown. The growth also proved to be a little bit of a problem. The WiFi just couldn’t handle the load that about 600 internet craving people brought. And in many rooms I just thought it was a little too crowded. That brings all sorts of smells and maybe a little bit too much closeness with it. During my own talk there were maybe as much people standing than there were sitting. So, if next year is going to be as big, I wonder if the location is good enough. On the other hand, it is very convenient to be able to stay in one place to sleep and have the conference. I went back to my room quite a lot, to dump my laptop, or get some stuff.

As for the talks, I never went to so few talks/workshops as this year. I didn’t mind too much, because my aim is to learn from people in general and strengthen my bond with other people from the Agile testing community. The fun nights certainly helped in this regard.

I liked to see the human as central point in the conference this year. It starts with people taking care of themselves and taking care of others. Often, we focus so much on the technology, the goal, that we forget that we (people) are part of that goal. It is still people who use the technology, who code. We cannot treat those people as if they are robots cranking out code. That damages the quality of the product. You owe it to yourself to work for a company that truly values humans above everything else. But what about the profit??!! Well, I believe that will come if people enjoy working and put their effort into it. People thrive the most when they feel appreciated and trusted.

Another point was: change starts with you. If you are not agreeing with what is happening in the company, you have a ‘moral obligation’ to start the change. Or, as Mike Sutton would say, ‘to fuck shit up’. On the other hand, we also heard about change from top-down being necessary. Change from bottom-up only doesn’t work. Management also needs to change.

A great point of learning for me personally was to give my talk. It was my first time with an official speaker slot, so that was exciting. I really enjoyed giving the talk and that in itself was great. I hope to have inspired other people to try out exploratory testing with their team. The talking experience certainly was inspiring for me!

All in all, it is clear that I really enjoyed the conference a lot. For the 3rd time in a row, the Agile Testing Days conference has managed to inspire me, give me happiness by seeing all the great people from around the globe and make me smile. I hope I can keep this feeling with me for as long as possible. Congrats José, Uwe and Madeleine for pulling this off again.

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