Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Scrum Challenge - QA Couplets - Random Style

The other day while the team and I were watching Test Bash 3 from Ministry of Testing we discovered as a team that the best entries were the ones where the testers recited 60 seconds of poetry about testing.  We were watching this video during our bi-weekly 'Team Learning Panel,' which I should tell you about some time.  

Towards the end of the same day, a Thursday, one of the team members sent me the question that I am invariably asked on the day before Scrum Challenge.  "Is there any hint?"

Scrum Challenge hint is as much a tradition around here as the scrum challenge itself.  I don't always give hints, based more upon knowing what challenge will be when asked than being secretive, but when I do they are cryptic, strange and difficult to relate to anything challenge-like.  This does not stop the question from getting asked. 

Once again I didn't really have any idea as to what the scrum challenge would be on the next day but I provided the following hint.  "I’m thinking that today’s learning panel will be a hint to tomorrow’s challenge."  Not knowing what the challenge was actually going to be about, I had now given myself some boundaries in which to create.  I do enjoy this type of challenge.   Gets my creative/nefarious juices running. 

I still hadn't come up with anything by the time I was getting into bed that night and mentioned such to my wife.  Five minutes later the two of us had come up with the following challenge. 

QA Couplets - Random Style

The Rules:

Phase I

  1. Choose coupled rhyming words, one per person in the challenge.
    1. If you have an even number of participants, MC stays out.  If you have an odd number, MC plays.
  2. On a long thin strip of paper, write on the right hand side one of your rhyming words.
  3. Repeat until all of your words are on pieces of paper.
  4. Shuffle.
  1. Each person is given a random piece of paper and asked not to speak about it. 
  2. Each person is asked to write a sentence ending in the word on their piece of paper.
    1. you may not change the word in any way (tense or pluralizing)
    2. the sentence should be about the over-arching theme.
    3. today's theme was 'Testing'
    4. the sentence should be a complete thought.
  3. After 2-3 minutes, collect all the pieces of paper.

Phase II 

  1. Take the first shuffled piece of paper.  Write the sentence on the white board.
  2. Find the piece of paper with the sentence that rhymes and write that sentence next.
  3. Take the next piece of paper and write it up.
  4. Find the rhyming sentence and etc.
  5. When all the couplets are up - voila - a QA poem.

The Results:

The beautiful of testing is how much bugs you CAUGHT!
I'm working on verification of fixed bugs that developers BROUGHT!
After a while testing goes like a BREEZE.
When I find a bug I start to SNEEZE.
Great product is not deliverable if QA's lazy!
Too many bugs makes function HAZY.
Testing is like a FLOWER
QA gives developers all the POWER

Through work the bug count SHRANK
Monster Trucks give QA the highest RANK.

This was received well by the team.  It is not the first time we have tackled poetry and even with a fairly nebulous direction at the start it was not questioned too much.  People just dug in and wrote their line.  

What Went Right
We ended up with a poem that while not great, was amusing and fit the bill. 

What Went Wrong
Oddly enough it was difficult to get the length of the sentence kept at similar lengths.  Much re-explanation was required and it still didn't' really work out.  It did not, however, end up being that important for the results of the challenge, the quality of the poem just didn't care that much. 

Lessons / Team Benefits
The big lesson in this challenge was about how difficult it is to produce a cohesive, high quality product when the project members are not able to coordinate their efforts and collaborate on a solution.  What you get in the end might be technically correct (although ours wasn't really) but will not really be beautiful.  The team readily accepted this lesson from the challenge, it quickly made sense.   

We will definitely play this game again.
On a side note, our new VP of Engineering sat in on our scrum this day, on his second day with the company.  He was a great sport and played the game well. 

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