As we round up FailQonf: A story of Failebration
As we all know failure stories are rarely told or shared. Most of the time people are scared to tell that they “Failed” in something and if they overcome that fear and share it, other people often look at it as if they are not good enough to do something. But, what if we change the way we look at failures? Does ‘failed’ mean we are not good at anything or we learned something and after that, we never fail?
In an era that sees failure as taboo, it takes courage to develop a conference theme that very few may have ever picked. FailQonf is definitely a feather in the cap of The Test Tribe community and we wouldn’t have had that courage to bring this unique conference without the support from the community. Listening to 23 speakers sharing their wisdom based on the lessons learned from failures was something never experienced. FailQonf, The Test Tribe’s 3rd International Conference, saw 1120 registrations from 55+ Countries, with around 800 attendees. A Conference covering failure stories with lessons around Testing and Quality getting such a phenomenal response is really special to us and we believe that FailQonf has changed the mindset of being worried about failures to realise it’s okay to fail & what matters is the learnings from them.
Some more stats as we reflect on what we witnessed: 1000+ Mentions, 2500 + Social Media Interactions, 1.2 Million Est Social Media Reach, and 40000 Non-Social Media ReachAnd there is no better example than this to emphasise that point.
It was truly an enlightening experience of learning for me and I hope you all had the same experience. There were moments of fun, thrill, courage, honesty and it was super exciting overall.
It started as this,
F.A.I.L = First Attempt In Learning
F.A.I.L = Fastest Attempt In Learning
Now we know, what could fail, what to do even if we fail, and how to overcome situations where we fail and convert those into success.
My Experience from FailQonf Software Testing Conference
I know that the amazing LIVE experience can’t be replaced by a bunch of written words, but this may help to give a glimpse of what we had last week for those who missed it. Since FailQonf has set a new trend & direction to look at things, let me take you through a reverse ride than usual.
Thanks to the phenomenal host, Lalit Bhamare❤️
A show without a host is always boring and The Test Tribe community is always blessed to have this fantastic person as the amazing host. Lalit, the way you host is always a pleasure to watch. Tremendous energy, perfect timing to share quotes and thoughts, the way you make others feel comfortable is something exceptional ♥️ Well said as we wrap up FailQonf!
Not failure but low aim is crime
I can still feel the pain: Learnings from five major mistakes: Robert Sabourin
If ending is not proper, the buzz of the overall great event may also go down as the audience may leave with a changed perception. But with the energy of someone like Robert, it is never a problem! A talk crafted from his 39 years of experience in the software industry, what else we need to know as an abstract. It was truly an honor to listen and learn from you, and I loved your energy throughout the talk.
And as expected the failure lessons were spot on! Especially the first one, for all the budding leaders out there.
— The Test Tribe (@the_test_tribe) June 6, 2021
Delegate the problem not the solution
This is a common mistake that we make and was very relatable to me as I used to do this before in my team, where I failed!!! We all could relate and might be made these mistakes somewhere in our career at least once, right? How we manage the problems, how we coach the team, how we delegate things really matters. And if we are doing it wrong, we should definitely do a retrospective and change our management style like what Robert shared during this session.
Some of the other interesting takeaways from this session were:
- Technical competence is not enough
- Identify the right stakeholders
- Organizations change around you and despite you
One Leader’s Journey Across The Testing Galaxy: Penny Howard
I should highlight the exceptional storytelling by Penny during this talk. She took all the audience through a rollercoaster ride and after listening to her, I really felt I took a ride across the testing galaxy!
The entire talk revolved around the storyline of the movie Galaxy Quest and focussed on the important lessons around Team building, Tools & Leadership. She walked us through the importance of gamification and modeling in organizations.
Discovering things often brings change
The most interesting point shared by Penny was about the importance of sharing Why when assigning tasks to a team, people tend to do more when they understand the why behind certain things and it’s human behavior, right? Penny’s presentation was a reminder of this thought.
She ended the session with this powerful message,
Never give up, Never surrender!
Nothing Fails Like Success: The Risks of Complacency: Mike Lyles
We all know Mike Lyles and his work in the testing Industry. I was listening to him for the second time, and he is definitely someone we don’t want to miss when it comes to learning. You could have realized it if you have listened to Mike at least once and have read his book “The Drive-Thru Is Not Always Faster”.
He was phenomenal as expected, I was stunned to hear about the rise of Netflix and how it conquered the market by beating Blockbuster. This was a classic example to share the importance of going with the guts. He also shared the importance of growing and building relations with people.
We all are preferred to stay in our comfort zones and often think we are the best in our company. Is it really enough? And are we really the best? What we should need to do is to expand to be the best in the world, says Mike 🙌
Success without fulfilment is ultimate Failure
From Good to Great to The Best You!!
Pitfalls in performance: Kaushal Dalvi
Performance testing and Performance engineering are often misunderstood in our industry and Kaushal’s session was an eye-opener to all. Conveying a deeper thought in a shorter time span really requires years of experience, and he did it with ease.
According to him, key qualities of modern applications are:
He also shared the importance of targets in performance testing. The complex topic was narrated with the help of 3 short stories. It also explained how running wrong tests can give false confidence to the teams and also how performance testing can be failed by chasing demons that don’t exist in the world.
Sometimes our mind is hooked to something and this is what hooked me. (Those who listened to the talk may remember it 😉)
The extra-ordinary ability to waste everyone’s time!
You can’ fix them all: Nancy Kelln
Slow down to speed up!
In a faster world, how many of us do this, right? Listening to Nancy actually highlighted why it is so important.
I often end up communicating things at the wrong time, but after this talk, I realized I was not alone. Even Nancy probably did that before. But she overcomes it. Rather than communicating things at the wrong time, she started identifying when to bring it up mostly figuring out something could be a real issue. I am curious to know how many of you have done the same mistake? Let me know in the comments 🤷♂️
Sometimes the right answer is NO! Really?? Yes, it is.
She also shared about fixer frustration to overcome which she keeps a notebook called “Prediction notebook“. She writes down about the thing which frustrates her, what blocks her progress, what was the idea suggested, and what action was being made with a date. And what’s really important was, she doesn’t bother about the issue anymore after turning the page 💡We all need a prediction notebook, don’t we?
Open space session: Failebration by Lalit Bhamare
This was another attraction of FailQonf. As we were celebrating failures, we should definitely open up a space for our audience to share their failure stories. Not everyone has the courage to speak about their failures but after listening to the amazing sessions in FailQonf, we all knew the outcome 😉 Seeing many volunteering themselves to speak up was indeed a pleasure to watch.
Started with Pavan who couldn’t connect initially which made Balaji become the first person to share his story on this Failebration stage. We listened about failures during a job search, missing out on job application form, story on getting out of comfort zone, the importance of preparing for the job instead of preparing for interviews, being vulnerable to openly share about failures, way of handling communication, etc. I actually thought we wanted more time to listen to all who wanted to share, maybe we can expect something from Mahesh soon which gives the opportunity to all to speak up about failures. 😇
Fireside chat with Pradeep Soundararajan on “Failures & Lessons in Testing, Business & Leadership”
A pure gem!! Pradeep always fascinates us with his phenomenal energy and thought process and this was also not different.
Testing is an intellectual process
He shared about the date with his wife, where he talked about testing for 2.5 hours 😲 His passion for testing is commendable, and he highlighted the importance of learning for testers & also about the missing hierarchies in testing.
The more you learn, the more you aware
— The Test Tribe (@the_test_tribe) June 6, 2021
Knowing when to speak is POWER
Authentic Benefits of Building a Failure Resume: Anuj Magazine
Failure resume? I was hearing it for the first time and that itself increased the curiosity to listen to Anuj.
Resumes are mostly treated as something to showcase our success and what could a failure resume do? It was a total mind shift for me after this session & I am sure that everyone else might have felt the same💡
Conquer our fear of failure
— The Test Tribe (@the_test_tribe) June 6, 2021
Fail to Rise – Automation, DevOps Stories: Soumya Mukherjee
There are a lot of failures that could happen because of the wrong understanding of concepts around Automation & DevOps. Listening to one of the masters in that arena will definitely help to avoid those. And, Soumya each session you do is different and with tons of learnings.
He shared about the importance of optimal data sets, which are very relevant all the time. He talked about build time, test script execution, also about the importance of running tests every week, and code coverage.
How to be a successful fail artist: Anne-Marie Charrett
It’s not failure, it’s pivoting
How many of us looked at failures as pivoting? I didn’t, to be honest, but I am sure I will see failures as pivoting after listening to Anne-Marie.
When we fail, we see it as our failure or failure of an event? Most of us, see it as a self failure. But, it was really insightful to see this thought during her presentation.
Failure of an event as opposed to self
If I gave up now, it would mean that I was giving up on the dream/experience that I always wanted to do – Anne-Marie Charrett
She also talked about meditation and its importance.
It’s just Day 2, now let’s see a quick overview of Day 1 🤩
Expert Panel on “Failures of software industry around testing and quality” with Anna Royzman, Aprajita Mathur, James Bach, and Michael Bolton
A dream expert panel😍. We can’t expect something bigger than these panel. We all know their contributions to the testing industry and their passion for the craft of testing. It was a joyful ride that discussed test craftsmanship, skilled testing, and deep testing.
Four of them had different views towards failures. According to Michael, failure is a relationship and its relative. For Anna, it is an opportunity to learn. Aprajita sees failure as a positive thing, and she learns from it. James correlated it as hyper-self criticism where he highlighted the importance of realizing our own failure before someone else.
The conversation just got heated up with questions related to AI and Automation. Mostly the points were revolving around misconceptions in testing after the introduction of AI.
AI is a little puppy, we need to train it 💡
They also discussed the failures faced by testers because of the wrong expectations from automation. And mostly the importance of evaluating tests.
Want to be a better manager? Admit it when you’re wrong: Jess Ingrassellino
The whole conference was seeing the courage of our stellar speaker lineup, but Jess requires a special mention. She took the courage to share her story without slides and that too live😮. Isn’t it something special? And you know what, Jess was amazing!
Be flexible! Try, Learn & Move Forward
Most of the managers, won’t accept they are wrong. And this leads to the failure of the team.. By making a mere change in this behavior and when managers start accepting they are wrong, teams win and eventually you become immune to failures. She shared about her failures during teaching and managerial position.
Lessons shared by her were:
- Behave in ways that align with values
- Behave in ways that help to build trust
- Own your vulnerability
- We don’t need to be right in every situation
- Admit your failures
A Phoenix Rising from the Ashes: What You Do After Being Fired Matters: Peter Walen
Peter narrated the failure story by sharing Edison’s story with us during the 1940s.
There is a great value in disaster, you get a chance to start over with a clean slate
Responses to failures mainly involve:
Learn what can help, no matter the source
Secrets shared by Peter:
- You don’t need to wait until you get fired to do these things.
- Keep Learning, Always.
- Keep Thinking, Always.
- Make sure management and the line workers have the same view while solving any problem.
He also shared his response to a personal disaster where he did a retrospective that helped to understand himself better.
Project Doom. Lessons learned as a QA Manager: Karen Johnson
Karen shared about her lessons as a QA Manager. She talked about the importance of testing strategy based on her experience. She shared it as a story where she explained the situation first followed by the learnings from them. I would like to highlight the If→then→else narration from Karen’s presentation which I felt inspiring.
If you can demonstrate that your work is part of the solution
then you may gain a seat at the table,
else you lose a chance to shape or inform the goals.
She also explained deconstructing high-level things to create SMART goals for the team. After the talk, we all will realize that,
TEST STRATEGY IS NOT JUST A DOCUMENT!
Also, the role of communication in making testing visible to others.
Blunders in Test Automation: Dorothy Graham
Let me start with this to set the right tone for Dorothy’s presentation.
Testing tools don’t actually test
Dorothy has nearly 50 years of experience and is co-author of 5 books: Software Inspection, Software Test Automation, Foundations of Software Testing, Experiences of Test Automation, and A Journey Through Test Automation Patterns (see TestAutomationPatterns.org). Listening to her was special and an honor.
What my dyslexia taught me about failure?: Faiza Yousuf
Faiza shared with us how dyslexia helped her and what it taught her about failure.
Know thyself phase!
Dyslexia helped her to understand what she is:
- Bad at
- Good at
She shared about how she found that she has a natural instinct for testing and her ability to see things that others cannot that help her became good at testing.
Learn to Restart, you might have to restart many times from scratch
Embrace whatever is given!
Failures and Denials at Different Stages – Revelations of a Quality Fanatic: Srinivas Kantipudi
Srinivas is super calm, pleasant and shared his golden lessons with ease. It was a wonderful session that comprised much valuable information for all of us.
He shared about failures and denials at different stages of his career and talked about being in the comfort zone, the impacts when people don’t think about overall quality, usage of metrics in the wrong way.
Seek help, engage in communities & understand what is going on outside your comfort zone
Metrics should be considered as an indicator to investigate.
How I failed a Quality Coach Role: Sam Connelly
We all know Sam and about her contributions to the testing community. This talk actually increased my respect towards her. Talking about mental health in front of 800+ attendees is not really a simple thing.
She shared about the mindmap on Interview Questions for Tester by Dan Ashby, her job hunt tracker, and much more on the mental impact after taking a new career role.
Only when we fail, we know what is our strength
Google & Beyond. From ‘Occasionally Misses Expectations’ to Creating the Trails You Blaze: Jeena James
Successful career graph is a roller coaster ride!
This session was finely crafted from her experience. Jeena shared her career journey and failure stories by starting with sharing about the famous movie Chhichhore that tells the story of Losers. She also talked about the importance of setting clear goals, measuring them, and monitoring them, which was really helpful. Her take on 360 was an insightful one, and I am sure that after this, I will be doing a complete 360 for myself to understand more about my career progression.
Ask questions. If we lack something, understand it and work on it.
Once Upon A Time – Three Failure Stories: Ajay Balamurugadas
Openings always matter, and we couldn’t have expected a much better opening than this by Ajay. The talk was titled “Three failure stories” and we know Ajay, it was filled with many insightful stories. Those who were there since the beginning of the talk might have listened to Lalit mentioning Ajay’s failure on “cloning himself” which actually was a compliment. He talked about his hesitation towards learning and implementing automation initially, the attitude of focussing on count bugs captured with the story of 82 bugs in 8 hours.
Embrace automation by understanding the power and limitation of the same, instead of running away from it.
He also shared about automation that never worked and highlighted that communication is under-rated. Also shared about process Failures, which we didn’t even think.. Most of us including me always believe process helps not to fail, but that could happen also!
Learn to make exceptions
Shall we wrap up?
Failure stories are never-ending and those stories have tons to learn from it. We can always succeed even if we fail. FailQonf actually connected those failure stories in an exceptional way.
It’s not a failure, I’ve Just Found 10,000 Ways That Something Won’t Work – Edison
We learned a lot from these amazing speakers which help us to embrace failure and overcome the fear of failing. As we said, in a world of celebrating success, we wanted to listen to failures!
And, as always there is a brilliant team behind the FailQonf who worked their best without any failures to bring this unique experience along with the 23 speakers. Also, I would personally like to thank our lead sponsor Headspin & platinum sponsor Accelq who wholeheartedly supported us to make FailQonf a huge success.
Thank you to everyone who made #FailQonf possible.
— The Test Tribe (@the_test_tribe) June 6, 2021
A big thanks to all our Speakers for guiding our tribe with so much passion and enthusiasm. You made #FailQonf a grand experience.🎉🎉🎉 Thank you @Lalitbhamare for being such an amazing host.#softwaretesting #testing #automation pic.twitter.com/BVB6S4zZLa
— The Test Tribe (@the_test_tribe) June 8, 2021
FailQonf 2021: What our attendees say
Diverse & stimulating selection of sessions, great energy and stamina by host; I had not expected a whole weekend of “failure” stories to be so inspiring – Neil Thompson
This is one of the best & unique conferences I have ever attended, especially because it was great to see and learn how various famous people in the testing stream have converted their failures as the stepping stones for their success. It was lovely to see how vulnerable and proud they while sharing these stories. It was a great learning for me – Leela Manohar
Attending FailQonf was an amazing experience unlike any others. I love to be with people who are willing to share their failure to help others – Feng Zhu
With that, it’s time to wrap up by realizing the fact that stories never end! I hope you all enjoyed reading the round-up post…See you next time!
A person who never failed, never tried!
About the Author
Nithin is the founder of Synapse QA, a co-writing space of test automation professionals and software quality advocates. He has nearly a decade of experience in the IT field with a focus on test automation delivery of web & mobile-based applications. Nithin actively runs test automation workshops, helps other professionals share their writings in the Synapse QA community, and works as a QA leader at Fave.