The test flow, improve yourself with mental training

Session type: 45 min talk

Session level: Beginner

Your performance is a combination of a broad range of capabilities, such as IT-skills, knowledge, critical thinking but also your state of mind. The state of mind is one of the most underestimated factors of your performance. For this reason sport psychology is a booming business: A good state of mind will make the difference between a top or a flop performance. Not only in sports also in your IT-performance.

In my presentation I want to apply this knowledge from sport psychology to make the audience aware of their mental capacities. If you are aware of these capacities you can reach the situation of utmost concentration: the test flow. I will use examples from a well known test situation, during session based testing.

In sport psychology we distinguish four mental capacities to get the best out of yourself: Concentration, self-confidence, intrinsic motivation and arousal. These four capacities interact with each other in different ways. They have to be in balance so that you can perform to the max.

The most interesting question is, how to influence these capacities and be able to influence your state of mind. For example: If you have enough confidence and the right amount of arousal then the motivation will increase just as your level of concentration. You can reach a state of (test) flow, which can be describes as: "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost." (Quote of Mihály Csíkszentmihályi)

In order to reach the test flow the four mental capacities can be influenced by four mental tools or abilities: Goal setting, visualization, self-talk and stress control. In my presentation I want to use the example of session based testing to show how you can use these mental tools to reach a state of test flow.

What are the kind of goals you have to set in a test session? Is “find 100 bugs” a good goal or is it better to set yourself a goal which is under full control and achievable in the test session, such as I want to test that risk in at least three different ways? How can you use visualization to reach a better level of arousal? It is proven that a visualization of your ‘ultimate test experience’ will help you to improve yourself because your motivation and self-confidence increases. And what is the function of self-talk? There are cues which will help you to improve your confidence or the right level of concentration. And finally: in what ways can you reduce your stress level before or during a test session while a stakeholder is standing next to you, waiting for results? I will tell more about tools and examples to handle these situations.

After this presentation the audience will be more aware or their mental capacities and what kind of mental tools and exercises they can use to reach the ultimate state of testing: the test flow.

Key take-aways:

  • How does your state of mind influence the quality of your work?
  • What are your mental capacities?
  • What are the mental tools to influence your mental capacities?
  • How can you use these tools to improve your testing during session based testing?
  • The test flow: what is it and how can reach it?

RiskStorming & brand your Strategy

Session type: tutorial

Session level: Beginner

Co-trainer: Beren Van Daele

Testing is a craft, but it is also and for many foremost a job. A job you do day in day out, evolving with all the rituals every employee develops over time. These rituals, together with all sorts of other external factors (deadlines, pressure, etc.) often means that we don’t have a test strategy or that we are no longer reconsidering the strategies we set out from the start. Having the right strategy in testing is important to stay as efficient and effective as you can be.

This workshop wants to reignite your strategic fire by placing you in small groups with your fellow testers. Together you will devise a strategy for a real life product which includes methods, tools and planning. However, just like in reality the context will change, and our strategy must change accordingly to aptly react to that change. The workshop will use the TestSphere cards as a support to spark discussions and for bolstering your strategy.

Key take-aways:

  • You will work as a team to discuss and describe a strategy to tackle a real life case and problem;
  • You will work out a proposal to convince your manager which forces you to focus on business value and risk;
  • You will use TestSphere as a tool to uncover unknown-unknowns and strengthen your strategy.

Ard Kramer is a principal Test consultant at Alten It since 2008. He is focused on new developments in testing and looks how innovations can be used in testing. Therefore he was a speaker at different conferences, such as EuroStar, TestBash, TestingCup, Testnet, Expo:QA, CAST and the Belgium Testing Days. Besides testing he has many years of experience as a sport coach (volleyball). As a sport coach, he must keep up with the latest developments and therefore he followed a course "sport psychology". With this knowledge he saw a connection how to improve as a tester and therefore he wants to present his insights to the testing community.