Firstly I must say a huge thank you to Revolution IT for allowing me to attend. I have been wanting to undertake this course for over 24 months now so I’m glad that Revolution IT have continued to show commitment to staff development via me this time. ;0)
James Bach, founder/creator and one of only three instructors of the course along with Michael Bolton (co-author of the course) and Paul Holland, usually only makes it out to Australia once a year so you need to plan ahead. He is now not planning another trip until 2014, so I’m glad I made this one!
James is incredibly passionate about this subject, as is evidenced within the first few minutes of his introduction. He carries with him a reputation for having a ‘no holds barred’ approach. This is true. He will tell you himself that he generally says the first thing that pops into his head and while this can rather confronting, it does serve a valuable purpose. How many of us work under some sort of pressure? I’d put money on almost all of us answering ”I do.” After all, it’s the nature of our craft. Testing is one of the very last activities prior to the deadline, even though we do it throughout. James applies this pressure. I enjoyed it as it made the experience that much more practical.
A lot of training is generally broken up into soft skills and technical skills. This course is a mash-up of the two. As a traditional thinker you may wonder how this could really work? I don’t have an answer for you, but I can say that is does work. Testing is not just a technical skill. There are many more elements to it such as critical thinking, science, observation, etc. In order to have all of these work together along with the technical skills James applies them all, at the same time.
I had originally planned to break this review up into three parts; each of which would correspond to a day of training (it’s a three day course) but when it came time to evaluate my course notes and think back to what we had done I could not distinguish each of the days! Why? There is no doubting it was intense, however i think it related to what it had me doing. After each day my thinking and learning did not stop. On the first evening I had dinner with James so my learning simply continued throughout, and on the second evening I was online researching various notes I had taken so my learning once again simply continued throughout! On the third evening I was flying home and sat next to a pair of winemakers, so my learning continued again but on a different subject. ;0) What does this all mean? I was motivated by James and his course. I can honestly say that it is the only course that I have been on (and I’ve been on a few) where my attention and focus did not wander. I was fixated on the course 100% of the time. I would attribute most of this to the practical nature of the course, and also James’ instructional style. He commands your attention through his presence.
I have shared my course notes (in raw form) here, but I will not be going into any great level of detail. It is something that you must experience for yourself. That and the exercises in the course cannot be spoilt as it is heavily structured around them. Also worthy of mention are the course notes. Within the appendices James provides a lot of valuable documentation for future reference. The slides are also provided and unlike some other trainers, James is not driven by these slides. He will take the course wherever the class leads him (within reason of course).
The course is built around the Rapid Software Testing Methodology – A framework of which can be found here. Your testing is centred around your Testing Story; the key element. The many other elements of the methodology are then taught and practiced throughout the three days. It is both an eye opening and mind opening experience. Even if you only walk away with one learning, you will be a better tester.
If you do get to this course, get involved! James feeds of the interaction and even though you may not be sure or you may be worried about looking stupid, you will learn more if you do. Rest assured, you are not stupid and James will help you see that. It may be a somewhat scary process but you will feel amazing after it.
I would recommend this course to any tester at any level. I would also recommend it to anyone who works with testers at any level. If you can convince your Project Manager or similar to attend this course, they will see just how important you truly are!
So thank you James for an inspirational three days!