Looking back on Rapid Software Testing

I’m currently preparing a new conference talk and part of the talk covers a transformational period of my testing career, viz. when I attended the Rapid Software Testing (RST) course with Michael Bolton.

Back in 2007, my employer – Quest Software (since acquired by Dell) – decided to bring Michael Bolton into their office in Kanata (near Ottawa, Canada) to run a three-day in-house RST class. Although I worked out of the Melbourne (Australia) office (and still do), I was invited to participate in the class and I jumped at the opportunity.

Up to this point, I’d been in testing for about eight years and was following a fairly traditional lead with a heavy focus on writing test cases, traceability, etc. Although I was considered to be doing well and adding value to the projects I worked on, there were some internal struggles with the amount of time I was spending on stuff that didn’t really seem to add much value to anything. Having said that, I wasn’t really looking around for alternatives at this stage and wasn’t even aware that there was a community of testers doing things differently and coming from a very different viewpoint as to what good testing looked like.

So, returning to November 2007 and a long flight from Melbourne to Ottawa (via Los Angeles and Chicago) in the early stages of the Canadian Winter (and the start of the Australian Summer). Moving from around 30 degrees Celsius to less than 30 degrees Fahrenheit would be the first shock of the trip!

Being an in-house course meant meeting up with around 20 other employees of Quest Software, mainly from Canadian offices, a few from the US and just me from Australia. Michael learned all of our names right at the start of the class and never got one wrong for the rest of the three days, so it felt like there were personal connections between students and teacher right from the start.

Those of you familiar with RST will know the kind of content that’s on offer, but it was the great content combined with the passionate and engaging teaching style of Michael that made the class so awesome. My natural shyness was confronted frequently by the use of the socratic method to stimulate critical thinking, but it soon became more comfortable and the revelations just kept coming. It was a very tiring three days but also the most valuable time in a classroom I’ve ever had in terms of changing the way I think – my idea of what good testing looked like was changed forever by those three days and it set me up to genuinely enjoy software testing and become passionate about it.

Taking RST was just the beginning of what felt like a new start in testing for me. Since then, I’ve spread my wings to engage much more with the worldwide testing community and now regularly attend & present at international testing conferences. I blog about testing (obviously) and follow great testers on Twitter. I co-organize the TEAM testing meetup in Melbourne and I’m also co-organizing the inaugural Australian Testing Days conference in Melbourne in May (and we’re delighted to have Michael as our opening keynote speaker). And, of course, I now add more value during my work at Dell Software. All of these varied and enjoyable aspects of my testing career can really be traced back to the change of mindset that the RST class gave me – what an awesome return on three days of time invested in the class!

When James Bach came to Melbourne in June 2011 to give a public RST class, I advocated strongly for all of our Melbourne testers to attend so we were the majority group in that class. I deliberately took something of a back seat during the course, to let others experience the exercises and learning via the socratic method. It was certainly interesting to see essentially the same content delivered by James as opposed to Michael, different styles but same great learning opportunities. I was pleased that most of my group enjoyed the class and found useful takeaways (although they had already benefited from my RST experience and knowledge sharing before taking the class themselves).

With my positive and valuable experiences of RST, it’s great news that the TEAM group has secured Michael to visit Melbourne to present the RST class and also the one-day “RST for Managers” class. This is an amazing opportunity to learn a different way of thinking about testing – and maybe it will be as career-changing for you as it was for me!

TEAM 3-day RST class: http://testengineeringalliance.com/rapid-software-public-class/

TEAM 1-day RST for Managers class: http://testengineeringalliance.com/rapid-software-testing-for-managers/

2 thoughts on “Looking back on Rapid Software Testing

  1. Nick

    Cheers Lee, I’ve got a ticket for next week’s RST class with Michael, can’t wait! Your article has certainly contributed to that emotion.

  2. Pingback: Rapid Software Testing – readings for preparation – Raven Consultancy

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