8 takeaways for Testers from my recent TribalConnects

8 takeaways for Testers from my recent TribalConnects

TribalConnect Mahesh Chikane

Throughout the journey of building The Test Tribe Community, I am habitual to connect with many of our community members, whether it is they approaching me or otherwise. Took a step forward recently and opened a formal channel which makes it more obvious that I am open to conversations with Tribals and helping them wherever I can. Called it TribalConnect. Over years I found out that when my set intention right, I find it super interesting interacting with people(even though I am an introvert), know their story, share good vibes, and if at all I can, help them with their problems or questions. I discovered this gives me joy. 

I am meeting 3 Tribals every week for around 45-90 minutes each (Just in case you are new here, Tribals is the official proud Title of The Test Tribe Community Members. :)). I have TribalConnects scheduled for October and will continue to have them through most of November as well(not charging for these by the way). In the last month or so, I did TribalConnect with 15+ Tribals, and how wonderful the experience was. I met tribals from 9 different cities, different companies of course, and varied experience and expertise. I feel fortunate to know their stories.

Listing 8 takeaways for Testers from my recent TribalConnects

When I look back, each conversation gave me so much joy. Was candid at the core. Not getting published anywhere, not getting streamed anywhere. With a mutual promise to genuinely converse, share good vibes, and listen.

I revisited these conversations in my head and had few realizations or re-realizations. Thought of anonymously bringing a few takeaways for you all so that everyone benefits. Let me try to express a few random takeaways as my mind revisits these discussions in no particular order.


Importance of having your Vibe-Tribe

Some call this Vibe-Tribe, some may call this a Mastermind group, some may call this a Breakfast club. I recently heard Jennifer Bonine call a similar concept a ‘Personal Board of Directors'(I liked it). I heard from James Bach that he calls it ‘Collegial network’. All these basically boil down to having the right set of people around who can listen to you, your ideas, your problems, your questions, give genuine opinions they have on it, and most importantly, make sure everyone grows.

This is a group where everyone gives by the way. If the others are helping you, you as well help them. Your skills, interests, and goals can be different from each other or complementary to each other, works just fine as long as you all align well to help each other so that everyone gets benefited.

Having these people around can take you out of any big or small question. Whether that is on life or career. Whether that is an idea validation or quick feedback. Or just a few pair of ears to listen when you need.

I have experienced this myself, and I continue to see so many people who do not have people around them where they can comfortably share their ideas, thoughts, and get feedback. In a world full of people, this is not a great stage to be in for humans, right? Let’s try changing.

Do you have your Vibe-Tribe? If no, start building/finding one. May take time but would be worth it.

How to find/build one? Add value to the lives of other people and keep your eyes open for the right people. When you help others and add value to their lives in some way, they will give it back. When this continues for enough period, you will realize with whom you gel very well as a person beyond just the helping part. To gel well with others, multiple things like values, complementary skill, nature, interests, etc. matters. You know if someone is in your vibe-tribe or not only after giving that relation enough time. It’s very close to the process of becoming a best friend with someone, but with few limitations, like you may not share very personal things with these folks, but you can certainly be all open when it comes to your growth, career, or related dilemmas and questions.


Feeling “I do not belong here”

We think about attending some Event, Function, or try participating in some ongoing conversation. In a few cases, we actually attempt and show up at these events/occasions as well. What happens is, sometimes only on thinking about showing up, and sometimes on actually showing up, we may get an immediate feeling that we do not belong here. Let’s be honest, this has happened with all of us, irrespective of the fact that we are Extroverts, Ambiverts, or Introverts., right? ?

Over years I noticed this has happened with me, and I have seen this happening with a lot of Testers, or people in general around me. As our audience is Testers here, let’s discuss the case of many Testers who always wanted to attend some Testing Event, but either they never showed up, or when they did, their first-time experience was not good enough for them to think about doing the same again.

Let’s understand why such things may happen at Events:

  • People/Hosts of the Event you are attending are not inclusive enough
  • Bad luck. The Hosts of the Event you decided to attend were not having their best day
  • You did not make any attempt to get involved
  • You decided too early that you do not belong there
  • It’s possible that you don’t belong there, and perhaps, belong somewhere else.

In the first two cases, you can’t really do much apart from being patient enough.

However, the 3rd and 4th case is something totally under your control. I came up with a scale that before deciding any event/networking is not of your type or that ‘you do not belong there’, give it at least 3, and at best 5 chances. That means, attend these events(from the same host or different), at least thrice, at best 5 times.

Why I thought about this is at times it is our own mental block or fear of getting out of our comfort zone which stops us from seeing the beauty of Networking and learning with others. And we may not even give enough chances to something before quitting it.

Let’s think about a few possibilities:

  • Someone from the Hosting Team was about to attempt talking with you but you got a Phone call
  • The person sitting next to you was about to start a conversation but then you started looking in your phone
  • Someone who was equally uncomfortable there but you both could never open up
  • It’s possible that you are wanted there, but people you’ve met don’t know how to make you feel welcome.
  • It was always a matter of just one “Hello”, but it did not happen ( sigh)
  • While I was discussing this topic with James, he added a wonderful perspective. If someone feels like an outsider, it’s probably because they really are outsiders and a solution to that is becoming an insider by offering something of value to the network/set of people in consideration.

Give Life a chance. Every profession has its own boring things and challenges, and walking together with like-minded people will only help you feel better and do better.

Next time you go to some event, online or offline, remember to say “Hello”. Remember to be open enough to receive a “Hello”. And most importantly, remember to be patient with yourself, and do not give up before you attend at least 3-5 Events.

Biased Note? (Nah 😉 ) – We at The Test Tribe make try our best to make sure our Community space and Events stay as inclusive as possible while still not compromising on our values and guidelines. Being an all-inclusive community is at our core. Give yourself a chance, give us a chance, and let’s see what we can do together. Join the community here. Or, if you prefer networking 1-1, feel free to explore TribalConnect in case you want to converse with me.

Let’s not deny the demand(and need) for Automation

The industry is obsessed with Automation. Companies around us are in love with it, or if not, automation is their most recent crush. This obsession may continue for a few years before they understand Automation alone is still not solving their basic problem of “Shipping Top Quality products Faster”. It is definitely solving the problem of lengthier regression cycles through quick feedback by Automation regression runs, but it’s not here to solve the overall problem Companies want it to solve. Hope the realization comes sooner.

But till then what? We have to understand it is a temporary obsession and look at Automation as only one of the weapons in our Arsenal. We should as well understand that the demand for this arsenal may stabilize to the need stage(currently it is at the hype stage) in 5-10 years probably. Meaning industry will hopefully see it for what it is.

In short, We should see that as one required weapon for us and at the same time understand industry may soon come to the realization that they love something else now.

Can we really say it is not important and Testers should/may not learn it? I think that would be misleading, unless you are a Tester who have found your niche expertise in Security or Performance or Accessibility or Usability, etc.

Saying Automation is not important is easy, but if your current job and next few jobs demand that you should know how to do good automation, no point in shying away from it.

Note: I am not advocating Automation replacing thinking Testing heads. I am rather a strong advocate that this fad will go away in a few years creating/retaining high demand for thinking Testers. I am talking about practically approaching the current market trend which demands you knowing Automation. Did I say there is no harm in learning it?


How can Testers be more valuable?

  • We probably take Notes
  • We then write Test Scenarios / Cases
  • When Story is ready we execute the test cases
  • We repeat

Have I mentioned the most obvious tasks for many of the Testers?

I think these are not the only steps through which we can add value as a Testers. The game completely changes when we keep asking ourselves “how can I do more valuable things at this stage?”.

  • More value through meaningful brainstorming
  • More value by prioritizing exploration over test case marking
  • More value through different types of testing
  • More value through design feedback
  • More value through owning build deployment
  • More value through maintaining our own environments
  • More value through better Bug Reporting
  • More value through Deeper Bug Investigation
  • More value through speaking Technical Language

I know there is a lot to this particular point. I am parking this for an independent blog post sometime soon.


Being introvert is a weakness?

Nah. How can this be a weakness? Being an introvert myself, I have enjoyed it most of my life(apart from those awkward first days in a new school or class). We introverts speak with ourselves so well.

I strongly feel being introverted is power as you can sense how others around you are feeling better and can change your approach/behavior towards them if needed.

Being an introvert has been a very crucial part of my journey of building The Test Tribe into a successful and inclusive community. It has helped me massively.

The key is to not feel pressurized and try to represent ourselves as unnecessary as extroverts and do things that we neither love nor enjoy. Be soft on yourself and accept the fact that ‘the beginnings’ which involve interacting with people/world would always be a bit tough for you, whether the world sees that difficulty or not.

If you are an introvert(even otherwise), you should definitely watch this amazing TED talk- https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts

Further, just google “power of introverts” and you will find many top resources to learn from.


Developers are your friends

Many have said this before and I will repeat. Developers are your friends.

They can help you gain the knowledge and get comfortable in an area which many of us flagged as not-for-me or not-my-cup-of-tea. That’s the Technicalities of Software we test, and the technologies it is residing on.

Obviously, I have a habit of researching new terms I hear and ask questions to myself as well, but credit for a lot of my technical knowledge goes to all the conversations I had with Developers in my team over years.

Ask questions. Ask a lot of them. First to yourself. And if you do not get the answer just in time, ask it to your Developer friends.

Try it. It works.


Trying to speak the common language

I have seen a few teams where the conversations between the Testing team and Dev team while they work are unhealthy, unenergetic, demotivating. They share information with each other for the sake of it. They have decided in their heads already that whatever I say the next party is not going to understand it.

Over years I have heard many testers complaining that they do not get the respect they deserve and even if they do not say so, they are pointing to Dev teams here.

The primary reason for this disconnect, in my opinion, is because we do not have a common language or in better words, we do not have Interactional Expertise(James helped me with this term which conveys the meaning much better compared to ‘Common Language’). In other words, the language Testers speak is not technical enough and the language Developers speak is not simple enough for Testers to understand.

Both Developers and Testers have gone through the same Education, work on the same projects, are together most of the time, but still, the language we speak is so different.

Being working professionals in the Technical field, our language has to be technical enough. If not for others, for ourselves.

What do services mean? How caching work exactly? What’s the structure of the build we ship? What is our technical stack? What is our Web Server? What is the app server? How are those configured? How do all the technologies involved talk to each other? How many APIs our application has and where is their documentation? Can we read it? What was the RCA of the bug the developer just fixed? What exactly they changed, and in which file(s)? How does build deployment happen? Can we read console logs or network tab calls? Can we make sense of backend logs? Can we debug at least a few things on ourselves and most of them at least 50-70%?

Just a few random questions on top of my mind. There can be hundreds of such questions.

Through a continuous process of “Questioning and staying aware” we all can get here, but more importantly, we can get here when we understand there is a strong need for it.


Imposter Syndrome

The big issue to talk on and there can be many contexts to this. If I have to restrict myself to the discussion I had, I can summarize in the below statements:

You may feel this way if for any of the below:

  1. Surrounding does not compliment the skills you have
  1. You do not love yourself enough for what you are
  1. You could not express yourself well enough yet
  1. You do not have skills which your environment can compliment

In our software world, 1 & 3 are quite common. 2 & 4 are rare but possible.

At times even when you are super talented, you may still have similar feelings as #4 a few times.

This may help anyone who ever had similar feelings:

  1. Each of us is unique, with our own unique traits. A journey to discovering ways in which we are unique becomes a part of our lives. It consumes a smaller part for the lucky ones, and considerably bigger for others. We also need to study ourselves and understand what is our preferred medium and preferred environment to express. If your preferred medium is a close room with a known group, it is absolutely fine. Over a period of time just to try to make this room and group big enough. Do not rush yourself into the Conference stage feeling. Your uniqueness may not need external validation if that does not come naturally.
  1. Express in ways you feel comfortable and try to be consistent. There are people who are comfortable just writing, just audio, only 1-1 conversation, or only calls. That’s fine. Try to break your comfort zone slowly but as a challenge, not by seeing it as a weakness. For that, it is no weakness and only your unique channel to see and interact with the world the best.
  2. Validation naturally comes from adding value. For that, whatever your comfortable circle is, start by letting them know directly or indirectly that you are open to help. Keep expressing through your discovered preferred ways (1-1 convo, Blogging, Social Media, Video, Audio(Podcast), Team conversations, 1-1s with your reporters, etc.) and let your world know about how can you be of help. Put your thoughts out, again through your preferred way, without beating up yourself.
    By consistently doing this, everything else shall take care of itself I believe.


There are so many other things that are worth sharing from all the conversations I had. But for the interest of my writing time and your reading time, this is it for now. ?

Feel I can be of any help to you? I have opened my calendar till November mid as of now. Help freeze the time for us to meet through TribalConnect here.

Talk to you all soon!

Review Credits: I thank James Bach for reviewing this article and helping me make it better, and of course, for introducing me to some interesting new terms.

Written by

Mahesh is the founder tribal at “The Test Tribe,” India’s largest software testing community. With over 10 years of experience in the field of software testing, Mahesh is an expert in leading complex enterprise products and designing automation frameworks. He is passionate about the craft of testing and is dedicated to building a strong and engaged community of testers through The Test Tribe. In addition to being a software testing professional, Mahesh also blogs about testing and communities, sharing his knowledge and insights with others in the field.
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