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Agile Testing Days: Learning is the key to Agile success: Building a learning culture on your Agile team by Declan Whelan

13.10.2009 | 2 minutes of reading time

This was really an excellent session and it was especially great as the things teached do not only apply to one’s professional life, but can really be useful beyond. Probably I still have to do some thinking on this, but here is what I was able to note down from the session.

Declan starts describing how continuous learning is very important and learning is a value in itsself and this must be, well, valued.Then comes a very interesting exercise on our own personal history. Declan asks us to think back when we have been children, about house, friends, sports … Now comes the exercise: Ask and answer your neighbour the following two questions:

  • How many children have been in your family?
  • What was the most challenging thing you faced as a child? (pick something that is not too painful)

At least that exercise was really bringing some noise and action to the room as people started discussing right away :). But what it shows: You really get to know something, one visitor was saying: More interesting than a lot of talks as such. This technique can also be used for example as a starter in a retrospective where no one wants to start “talking”.

A lot of ideas came from the book “The Fifth Dicipline”, which is on my wishlist definitly after this talk.

“We are having a dualcore brain, but we are using only half of it!” (Declan on the left and right side of our brains.)

It continues with the idea of Shu Ha Ri which means translated in short Following, Breaking Away, Fluent. Probably I will have to do some googling on this still.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilites, in the expert’s mind there are few.” by Shunryu Suzuki

Exercise: Draw a hand. The interesting thing is that hardly anyone in the audience was looking at a hand physically instead a mental model has been used, which is limiting us to some extend.

“We have a goal, but often not a purpose.”

The purpose is what really motivates people. There was still a lot more, but I was too much absorbed to make any meaningful notes.

From the discussion it was turning out that having a “learning culture” might be difficult to have in some organisations. But google was given as a concrete example where this has been extremely successful and of course I have to say that I am in the lucky position to work for a company where learning is also really valued.


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