07 August 2015

CAST 2015 - A quick summary

Every conference creates some kind of special memory for me; Let's Test 2013 was meeting Helena Jeret-Mäe for the first time (the most important event so far for me as a tester) but also Richard Robinson and his Miagi Do challenge. CAST 2013 was my first talk which was special but also Dawn Haynes' magical keynote. Let's Test 2014 was barefoot introduction and NTD 2015 was the Pekka Marjamäki show. Also, as an important bonus both Let's Test 2014 and NTD this year, I had Helena; meeting her in person is always very special for me.

So what about CAST 2015? Well there were three people that stood out to me (in no particular order):

1) Ioana Serban caught my attention at Let's Test 2014 and at CAST she spoke for the first time... and she nailed it! The talk had high value content, the most awesome slide deck I've ever seen and she packaged all this as an entertaining and compelling story! I feel fortunate to be one of the people in the room that got to experience it live! On top of that she’s a smart, wonderful person I just enjoy being around!

2) Diana Wendruff has this lovely, sparkling personality that makes me happy just by being around. Her humble curiosity, charming humor and clever insights on top of a very empathic core is nothing but awesome. I so look forward to meeting her again! Oh, and she has the coolest business cards, ask for one when you meet her!

3) David Leach (referred to as Kiwi-David in my tweets) was one of those who just made the whole conference better for everyone. He was a first timer but gave a great lightning talk (the guy can present!) and even more importantly: He's incredibly skilled at asking good questions during open season, that created massive amounts of extra value for both speakers and attendees (probably the most active participant during open season throughout the whole conference). On top of that he's smart and curious. Thank you Dee Ann for help bringing him there and thank you David for making a great conference even greater!

Oh, one more... I want to highlight the Speak Easy initiative. I happened to go to three of the Speak Easy presenters and I sincerely think that was the three best talks I attended, which is absolutely crazy considering the little experience these speakers have. I've already talked about Ioana, the other two were Kate Falanga (talking about understanding the brand you create for yourself) and Jessica Ingrassellino (taking about the art of asking questions). I also heard great reviews about Carol Brands’ talk (which I missed). I was amazed!

I could keep name dropping forever (Perze, Taylor, Pete, Liz, Mark, Jessica, Roxanne, Dawn of course...) but instead I'll stop and just say: THANK YOU everyone who made this conference amazing! And an extra thank you to the people who not only attended my talk, but made it better by adding to it during open season and after. Oh, and to all the organizers (including facilitators and the staff in the reception), I’m so impressed by the effort you put in, thank you!

To finish off with something more useful; here are my top three takeaways from CAST 2015:

1) You can turn a "boring" (but important/valuable) topic into an entertaining story! Probably my number one takeaway and something I'll definitely use, thank you Ioana!

2) Nicholas Bolton (please correct my spelling Niclas, Nicolas...) shared this wonderful analogy with me: When trying to decide what solution to go for you sometimes have to look at it as being in a maze; if you run around like a headless chicken you'll (likely) not find your way out in time and die. On the other hand; if you stand still and only debate where to go, you’ll starve to death having accomplished nothing. At some point you have to stop arguing about which solution to go with and actually try one.

3) Helena introduced me to an interesting problem prior to CAST: She, and I, are both getting to a level where we can sort of look down at everything in an organization and actually have the authority to deal with problems we see at various levels. However, we can easily identify problems that would occupy 5000% of our time for the rest of our lives as well as impact people in extremely complex ways. So how do we choose where to put our effort?
Roxanne (congratulations to becoming a board member!) commented that maybe that problem partly comes from the fact that we're new to this position/perspective; we probably felt the same way once upon a time, with the "lower level stuff" (but experience have thought us how to navigate that). My take on her comment is; maybe we should worry less about "figuring out what is right" cause we don't have the necessary experience and understanding yet, instead we should head out and explore with learning being the main objective. Aiming to solve "the right thing" currently just makes us stall and feel inadequate (ties back to takeaway two) which isn't helpful.

So, once again, THANK YOU! I hope to see all of you soon again! CAST 2015 was awesome!

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