Gonzo QA: Fear and Loathing at Scrum Day Europe 2014 (part 2)

A savage journey to the heart of evidence-based management for software organizations in 1,000 words or less

Dateline: 3 July 2014, Amsterdam

(Read part 1.)

Lunch-time sandwiches behind me, Forrester’s Diego lo Giudice’s Keynote: The State of Scaling Agile In The Age of The Customer roared into life in the ‘Grote zaal’. Sporting a sharp goatee and an even sharper suit, Diego started talking at 160 words per minute. Having warmed up on his introductory slides, he passed 250 words per minute on slide 4 and was soon speaking at speeds exceeding the limit of normal human comprehension, around 500 words per minute. Facts and figures filled the air. Nobody moved for fear of getting hit. Towards the middle of the presentation, smoke was clearly visible coming from the left hand side vent of his jacket. ‘*’-uniformed roadies immediately appeared on the stage and sprayed his torso with a thick coat of fire-retardant foam, allowing him to continue to present uninterrupted. Diego’s 27,500 word presentation finished without warning to deafening silence followed by thunderous applause. There was 5 minutes left for questions but we knew we had just witnessed a tour de force and there was nothing left to say.

Gonzo QA: Fear and Loathing at Scrum Day Europe 2014 (part 1)

A savage journey to the heart of evidence-based management for software organizations in 1,000 words or less

Dateline: 3 July 2014, Amsterdam

I approached Scrum Day Europe with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Ken Schwaber was giving the opening and closing keynote speeches. Ken Schwaber! Ken co-developed the Scrum process and signed the Agile Manifesto. He founded the Agile Alliance, Scrum Alliance and and I was going to hear him speak. Would the first row of seats be reserved for acolytes dressed in white robes? Would the audience chant his name? Would there be fruit juice to drink at the end? The man who wrote ‘Scrum’s roles, artefacts, events, and rules are immutable and although implementing only parts of Scrum is possible, the result is not Scrum,’ does not sound tolerant of dissenters.

Extreme participation marketing

Don’t get me wrong, as an agency person I am all for enthusiastic participation in marketing the client’s product, and as a committed testing specialist, I am all for putting my money where my mouth is, but in the following article from The Times, journalist Catherine Philp buys a bulletproof jacket from tailor Miguel Caballero and then allows him to shoot her in the stomach.

You pays your money and you takes your choice

Excellent article in today’s Guardian technology supplement by Bruce Schneier, security technologist and author. His hypothesis is that cars are well designed and software is not. This is because car manufacturers face liabilities if they make mistakes but software vendors do not. Further, both the market and the law support the status quo. He writes:

Befehl ist Befehl

The Nuremberg Defense is a legal defense that essentially states that the defendant was “only following orders” (“Befehl ist Befehl”) and is therefore not responsible for his crimes. The defense was most famously employed during the Nuremberg Trials, after which it is named.
Source: Wikipedia, Nuremberg Defense

The QA Department often hears the phrase “but it is signed-off” used by staff & clients to defend the indefensible. At this point, it is the QA Department’s job to persuade the team to do the right thing.

The Eighth P in Quality

Why would we not want to include packaging in the marketing mix for Quality Assurance?

Packaging. It is very important how the product is presented to the customer. The packaging is often the first contact that a customer has with it. Packaging can also be considered as a subfield of promotion and/or if the primary intent of the packaging is to protect the product during shipping, as a subfield of placement.


Gonzo QA: Blast from the past #2 – Social evolution

Dateline: London, March 2009

“I’m in. Start Outlook, MSN Messenger (isn’t the new Windows Live Messenger limp?), Yahoo! And Gmail. Much Spam has arrived overnight, so I take a quick look at what’s getting through; is there anything new or clever of which we should take note? No. There never is, but you never know; inspiration comes from the strangest places. Much of the bulk-mail we sent out last night has come through as well, so I take a quick look at that while I’m on. It’s far too late to correct anything that has gone out, but it’s never too late to spot mistakes and learn. Here’s an unusually long newsletter from one of our clients that, yes! It has the body copy repeated twice. Fortunately it’s not one of ours. Ha! It’s tempting to dump on the other agency that sent it but discretion is the better part of valour. Unless you’re pitching for new business, of course.”
Source: Gonzo QA: Fear and loathing in the morning, December 2006.

Since then my sign-in ritual has got worse. I ditched MSN Messenger in favour of Windows Live Messenger some time ago. I now enjoy Version 2009 which does the same old but in must-have full colour, yowsah. To Outlook, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail, I have added occasional LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter checks. Social networking arrived between then and now and I have fallen for it big time. Prim and proper LinkedIn was first, a low-key romance quickly maturing into a monthly assignation in an anonymous hotel satisfying both our needs. Then came flighty Facebook. A whirlwind courtship was followed by a rude awakening; did it have to be so all-consuming? My reaction to it’s first makeover was disappointment. It has just had a second but I think we have gone our separate ways now; we have grown too far apart for anything more than occasional drinks after work to catch up on mutual friends and talk about the old days. Twitter and I circled each other for some time before I felt able to make any kind of commitment. I am currently post-infatuation, resigned to the fact that without a business model, this pretty butterfly must surely die. In the meantime, I tweet 10 times a day; any more and I will go blind.


First posted: 14 March 2009 on