TeamSTAR Competition post-meetup: impressions, details and much, much more

Warning: There will be lots and lots of pictures. Whenever you see one, click on it!

I can’t quite explain what has happened, but for the last weeks I’ve been trying to write a post and I just don’t like the way it ends up. I tried writing in another app, I tried typing it on my phone, I tried going to someone else’s house, shower, pub, park and even my own shower, pub, park. Nothing. But then *IT* happened. THE MEETUP *tram tram traaaaam*
Now that all the meetups have passed, it’s that time of the competition when you have to write about it. A lot. Luckily, I can write a lot because a lot happened (with pictures and everything)! If you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about (WHERE have you been?), you can check all the details here. But, long story short is that I along with two other testers, Lucian and Andrei, had a meetup as part of Tabara de Testare at TechHub, a tech location in Bucharest, to win 3 tickets to the Eurostar Conference, the biggest software testing conference in Europe. As for the number of participants, we had 12 people, which include 3 that we would never have expected.

But first there was the promotion.

Of course, having a meetup meant creating an event on the Meetup website. Not having one is like not having a Facebook account: you don’t exist. The link to the meetup can be found here, but this is not the only place we stopped by! There were also posts on Facebook:

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Twitter:

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And even Linkedin:

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I even talked at the company I work for and asked if I can put up posters so that people could join in. And I got green light:

The day of the meetup, I quickly left from the office and went straight to the location to set everything up with the guys. I have to tell you that I was nervous for hours! I had thousands of bats in my stomach and I kept asking myself “Will my presentation be as expected?” and then I started doubting myself “I’m just a junior, what do I know?” with people giving me invisible slaps on the face and telling me everything would be fine (a retrospective “thank you” to all!). So, we set up the laptop, posters, food and more posters, which I will get back to explain in a short time:

We also had a nice blackboard where we wrote the hashtags that anyone could have used for the meetup, like so:

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Isn’t it cute?

To our most surprise, three foreigners (those three people that I told you about) came by because they saw the meetup on TechHub and wanted to find out more. I think you can imagine the picture of our jaws dropping, don’t you? We even have a picture:

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Well, maybe Lucian’s jaws weren’t dropped right in this picture, but you haven’t seen mine! Andrei was surely writing a tweet in the background like so:

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We waited for everyone to join in (just 5 more minutes!), went up in front of them and then we started! Firstly, we presented about why we were there and what we were about to do, along with details about Tabara de Testare and the Eurostar Conferences themselves. Here is a photo with your lovely facilitesters at that time:

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And here is one with the participants:

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Lucian had the idea of printing out the three posters that I posted earlier, each related to the open format meetup and having the following meaning:

  • The bumblebee

The bumblebee is the one that never stays on the same flower, it always goes from flower to flower looking for the next nice sticky pollen to stick to. This means that each person (apart from the presenters, I hope) can move from one presentation to another and get whatever information he/she needs. You’re not obliged to sit to one if you find out you’re not interested.

  • The butterfly

The butterfly is totally opposite from the bumblebee. It likes to go to a flower and just sit on it. This means that it’s totally okay if you want to hear a certain presentation from start to finish. Nobody is making you change anything as long as you don’t want to.

  • The two feet

The two feet is a pretty simple concept: you have two feet, use them! You can always switch from bumblebee to butterfly, you can listen to a presentation fully and then switch between the other ones. No one stopping you as long as you have those two feet, man!

After we set our rules, we added three sticky notes on a whiteboard with the names of the presentation that we were about to hold. We decided we would only hold two for the number of participants that were present, so people had to choose which one they wanted. These were the subjects:

 

And the people spoke their mind:

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In the end, Lucian and I won, although I really, really, really wanted to see Andrei’s presentation. You’re not off the hook yet, Andrei!

I knew the storm was here and I was right in the middle of it all, but I started the presentation:

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And everything just went from one to another, really smoothly and in a nice atmosphere. I wanted to hold a presentation in which people felt relaxed and even laugh out loud, because I’ve noticed that this gets people together and that’s also what I like to see when I go to a presentation. And they did! But wait for more details!

Lucian presentation, from what I understood, was about the Cynefin framework on testing, related to a simple-complex-complicated-chaos concept, in which a project could go in either sections and even jump from one to another. Maybe you can see more about it here:

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After everything was done and we had our session of Q&As, we had a small break for a bit more networking. We all could have used a snack or two!

The grande finale arrived and it looked like this:

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A short retrospective about what had happened in both talks and some feedback from them. Also, what (or if?) they have learned anything from our presentations. I could tell you that they liked it, but I’d better show you what they said themselves. So, I made a Google Form which you can find at the link here and the outcome is this:

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Four people replied to our dying call, three of which liked it a lot, lot and one thought the meetup was so-and-so. When asked what they liked about it (optional reply), some were very nice and actually wrote something! Look:

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Wow, the first impression! This was the post-meetup second jaw dropping that happened to me.

The person who said so-and-so said that:

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So, there was something about the atmosphere that he/she didn’t like. If you’re out there and reading this, we’d really love to hear your thoughts!

This was my first time as a facilitator and maybe the only time as a “facilitester”, but there might be some more soon enough, who knows? I have to say that this whole experience was a real eye-opener for me, which made me think and made me laugh and made me be super nervous. It was clear that the format we have chosen, the open space one, meant sharing the experience one with another in a clearer and “opened” way and we will definitely want to use this type of meetup for the next ones. In the end, I found out I don’t have to be nervous or scared or an overthinker, no one’s going to kill me and that’s the main reason why we were all there that night: to learn to test and to test to learn.

A. Testophiliac

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TeamSTAR Competition: Meetup, more info and other juicy stuff

So, I’m back! After days of being a fish, some other days of being a couch potato and some other dubious days I have no recollection of from pure blandness, I wanted to write this post because my conscious would have killed me otherwise. Or my co-facilitators. Or all of them!

As some of you might recall in an earlier post (or you could just check this one here for a shorter trip down memory lane), I was talking about stepping out of my comfort zone and about the Eurostar conference with its TeamSTAR contest. The idea is to build up a meetup from inception to finality and beyond as a facilitator. That’s how The Facilitesters group was born! Two other members from Tabara de Testare, Andrei and Lucian, and I started it and made the event that I will be revealing in just nanoseconds!

For those interested, do NOT make any plans on the 1st of September, time 18:30 and COME to TechHub Bucharest, situated on 39-41 Nicolae Filipescu Street! The subject of the meetup is the same as the Eurostar conference, which is “Learning to test, Testing to learn”. So, who can say that they know everything there is about testing? (*whispers* You’re lying!) That is why we have chosen an open format type of meetup. If you haven’t heard of the term, you can find more info here. The main idea is to have small discussions revolving different themes where people who are really interested about a certain subject can join in and bring more info. Or no info at all. Anyone can learn in any way he/she wants and that’s the beauty of an open format meetup.

At the end, we gather all data from each discussion and present it to everyone, like a small conclusion. We can’t promise fireworks and singing angels coming down from the sky, but we can promise a friendly environment with a lot of opportunities to find out more about this huge subject that we all love and fight with daily – testing.

So, if you’re a tester and you happen to be in Bucharest, Romania on the 1st of September, we’re both in luck! Join our meetup and let’s exchange ideas!

Test on,

A. Testophiliac

 

The Facilitesters - meetup pic