How Testing Can Be Just Like Yoga: An Interview with Dawn Haynes

In this interview, Dawn Haynes, CEO, testing coach, and consultant for PerfTestPlus, explains how the different yoga poses relate to testing, why you need to adapt to your testing situation, and how to succeed in the nonfunctional testing space.

Jennifer Bonine: All right, we are back with more virtual interviews, and I am so excited to have Dawn here with me. Dawn, I'm excited you're here.

Dawn Haynes: So good to see you again. Hi, everyone out there.

Jennifer Bonine: We're glad you're all out there and you're joining us.

Dawn Haynes: Wish you were here.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah, yeah, but, the good news is, I've heard they can participate virtually in the Test Lab, which is your fabulous lab coat you have on.

Dawn Haynes: Absolutely. So, Test Lab is something that we've been doing at conferences for a long time, which really lets people immerse and try out some of their skills and try to find bugs, and kind of compete for prizes—in one case, compete with each other. Sponsored by Security Innovation this year, we brought in the Command and Control Hack-A-Thon, and the Hack-A-Thon is targeted at a real website that has vulnerabilities baked in, and the way it works is you can take this URL, sign up with an account, and try to find up to 50-ish of the vulnerabilities and keep score. So every time you find one, it's like, "Good job, this is worth 10 points, this is worth 100 points, this is worth 1,000 points."

Jennifer Bonine: Wow.

Dawn Haynes: The top three scorers are going to get ... There is two Kindles that Security Innovation is giving away, and an Echo. So that's just one part of the virtual Test Lab that you can take advantage of, and the other is testing the Humanitarian Toolbox. This is an application that's used for disaster recovery teams, so people sign up and say, "You know, what could I do during a disaster, I'm available, I have these skills." So that when somebody needs to coordinate something, they can contact those people.

This is a real application, we're working with a beta version. So out there in virtual land, you can get that link and then file the bugs on GitHub, and Julie, who is coming up next, will be evaluating all those bugs and giving top prizes to the best bug, the best-written bug, and the best virtual bug, so we still have some time.

Jennifer Bonine: Wow, so now, how long do they have until these close?

Dawn Haynes: I would say about probably 3 for Humanitarian Toolbox and the other tools, and 3:30 for the Hack-A-Thon.

Jennifer Bonine: And that would be Pacific Time?

Dawn Haynes: Pacific Time.

Jennifer Bonine: Pacific Time. For those of you that are saying, "Oh my gosh, it's getting close to that!" You have a little more time, if you're on the East Coast.

Dawn Haynes: Yes.

Jennifer Bonine: It'll be past that time for you, but, Pacific Time, so that's amazing. Have we seen, do you guys know? Have there been some good virtual participation? Good.

Dawn Haynes: Yep, absolutely.

Jennifer Bonine: So, keep it up.

Dawn Haynes: That's wonderful.

Jennifer Bonine: If you haven't, I believe you guys sent out the links, so they should be in the shared for virtual.

Dawn Haynes: It should be in the virtual feed. Also, you can check Twitter, #STARWEST.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah, there you go. A couple places to go find them if you guys haven't been participating, but a great way to feel involved, even though you're out there, and able to participate with the rest of the folks here.

Dawn Haynes: Absolutely.

Jennifer Bonine: Let's talk about some of the other fun things you've been doing, which revolve around the nonfunctional testing space.

Dawn Haynes: Yeah, I've had a good run on this conference. It kicked off with a two-day performance load and stress class. We had, it was around twelve people in the class, which is actually a good group.

Jennifer Bonine: That is.

Dawn Haynes: People of varying experience, but a lot of people who have already been working to do some performance testing, so they're trying to figure out how to formalize. Some people who have just been thrown into performance testing, you know, they do functional testing today, and their management says, "Hey, could you do some performance testing for us?"

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah.

Dawn Haynes: "Sure, I'll get those results by ..." "How's noon for you?"

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah.

Dawn Haynes: Yeah, people don't realize what's involved.

Jennifer Bonine: Right.

Dawn Haynes: We spend two days talking about, like, 80 to 90 percent of the time is planning and implementation; just getting ready to do the performance test. The tools—everybody chases tools.

Jennifer Bonine: Right.

Dawn Haynes: The tools bit is the smallest part of it.

Jennifer Bonine: Right.

Dawn Haynes: We had fun in this course. I just saw some of the group, actually, three of the people from the class have been traveling together throughout the conference, and people keep thinking they're all working at the same company.

Jennifer Bonine: That's so funny.

Dawn Haynes: It's just they bonded, so it was great, so we talked about that. Then I did a half-day tutorial on how to break software robustness. Five ways to challenge robustness and kind of evaluate that as a quality factor, right?

Jennifer Bonine: You're being paged.

Dawn Haynes: Yeah. I'm being paged, so sorry about that. That, we do one long exercise of using an exploratory testing charter to try and find robustness issues. If you're familiar with exploratory testing, there's ways that you can amp it up to make that testing a little more stressful and a little more challenging to the application and evaluate robustness as opposed to, "Do a crazy test that nobody really thinks is valuable."

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah, right.

Dawn Haynes: You know? People respond like, "Oh, that will never happen in production, a user would never do that." That's not even the relevant issue; it's what did you find. We talk about framing, injecting robustness testing on your projects. How to use better vocabulary for it. How to show the value-add quickly, so that you can get people bought in, which is a tremendous thing to do. Then, here we are in the Test Lab. We kicked off the Hack-A-Thon yesterday at 4 p.m., right here in this room, and let everybody know it was live, and they could hack all night, and that's the idea, twenty-four-ish hours to compete for the top three spots. That's quite a theme for this conference.

Jennifer Bonine: Wow, very cool.

Dawn Haynes: I'm really pleased, and thanks, big shout-out to Security Innovation, dudes, couldn't have done it without you, great addition to the Test Lab.

Jennifer Bonine: That's awesome.

Dawn Haynes: And so happy that the virtual audience can take advantage of it as well.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah. I mean, just a great way to connect everyone together and have a way to participate and utilize the concepts you're hearing about.

Dawn Haynes: Yee-haw!

Jennifer Bonine: It's awesome.

Dawn Haynes: It is.

Jennifer Bonine: Then you guys did ... You talked yesterday, if the folks saw the lightning keynotes, that are watching, if you watched those and if you didn't, why don't you tell us a little bit about what you talked about in there and some of what you're doing outside of the conference?

Dawn Haynes: I did a little snippet lightning talk, explaining the session that I do at other conferences in Sweden and South Africa, and it's really taken off. It's called Yoga for Testers.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah, that's so fun.

Dawn Haynes: You know, I'm not exactly sure how it all got started. We just decided that, you know, some people were taking hikes before the conference, you know, before the day started. Some people were swimming, and I was like, "I don't want to do either of those things, but I do do a little yoga." I'm like, "Why don't you have a yoga class?" They're like, "Well, I'm not a yoga instructor." That would be a reason not to have a yoga class.

Jennifer Bonine: Right. Right.

Dawn Haynes: But I could share what I do, and we could do yoga together.

Jennifer Bonine: Right.

Dawn Haynes: You know, we started thinking about that, and I went, "This could be way cooler than that." Because, there are really good reasons to bring yoga into the everyday scenario, because most of what we do as testers is sit. We sit in kind of a stressful position, and just imagine, you're really intensely looking for something, all the stress and tension that's sitting in your body that you don't even realize is there. Trust me, you do one little simple yoga pose, and you'll find all those spots, and you'll realize, "Wow, I am kind of abusing my body a little bit, and I need to, you know, just relax. Just stretch."

I gave people kind of an overview of that, and what I learned from doing this is that many of the yoga poses, they're called asanas, have a corollary to software testing. Like mountain pose. You just stand up, you put your hands down, you try and get your shoulders down, your head up, and you just breathe, and it doesn't really seem like you're doing anything. You try to be sturdy, you try to be grounded, you lock your knees, and you know, you feel strong and rooted. That's mountain pose. Sometimes, as testers, we need to be the mountains that can't be moved. Sometimes we need to stand up absolutely for what's right.

Sometimes we need to be the tree. The tree, if you've ever tried tree pose, there's a whole lot of falling going on, and not really ... You know, sometimes you have to lean up against something. Sometimes you need to flex with the project. If you're too rigid, if you're too quality-minded, right? If you have your bar, and it's in a different place than the project bar, then there's conflict. And sometimes, not acquiesce, but just understand that there's a different set of priorities, and quality isn't always the highest priority. I learned that in my career, and I call it the day quality died. It wasn't a good story at all, but it clicked for me that that wasn't the only concern.

Sometimes, we have to be the tree and flex, sometimes we need to be the warrior and fight for what's right. I build it in this little description of what the poses could mean to testing, and then modify all the poses that we do for chairs. For office chairs, so you don't have to, I don't know, sit on the floor, stick your butt in the air.

Jennifer Bonine: Right.

Dawn Haynes: Like, you know, probably not the best thing to do in an office setting. Nobody's suggesting, "Hey, why don't you do, you know, a 30-minute yoga practice in the middle of the day?" No, but, maybe one pose a day to become a little mindful of your stressors and the stress points, focus on your breathing. Get grounded, get focused, and transition back into your day. I don't think it's a bad thing.

I've had lots of people tell me lots of feedback, just from that little overview. People were like, "Yoga's cool. Thanks for sharing yoga, that's great, I want to do that." Conversely, other people are like, "Really? You talked about yoga? Seriously?"

Jennifer Bonine: Then, I think that's one of the interesting things, though, is sometimes people get very caught up or set in that everything we learn has to be within a certain box.

Dawn Haynes: Boundary, yeah, yeah. Yep.

Jennifer Bonine: I heard this yesterday, and I thought this was interesting, someone saying, "Because we're at a testing conference, everything should be very focused on testing the technical skills, the tools, the ways to do it, all of the things." Right?

Dawn Haynes: Instead of some of the soft skills and things like that that could be extremely valuable.

Jennifer Bonine: Right, and what I would say is if you talk to a lot of the companies that are hiring, you're looking that they're saying, "I can teach you a lot of technical skills."

Dawn Haynes: Yep.

Jennifer Bonine: Because those are things that are teachable.

Dawn Haynes: If you have the capacity to learn, that's all we need to evaluate in an interview. Do you have the capacity to learn?

Jennifer Bonine: Yes.

Dawn Haynes: If you do, if you're a techie person, you can learn anything.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah.

Dawn Haynes: But it's those soft skills.

Jennifer Bonine: And skills, too. I know. It's an interesting dilemma that I think all of you should ponder, that we ponder is, you know ... I heard this, and they said, "Attitude and aptitude matter the most, because I can teach you other stuff. But if you don't have a good attitude, and you don't have the aptitude to pick stuff up, I'm struggling."

Dawn Haynes: Then we're done, then we're done.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah, we're done.

Dawn Haynes: I have a little short, it's another lightning talk that I do about hiring testers. Because I teach, and because I teach skills, I've carved these out as things that I can't teach. I call it the attributes of a CRACK tester, and it goes like this: Curiosity, I can't teach you, but you need.

Jennifer Bonine: Right.

Dawn Haynes: You need to be resourceful. If you don't have an answer, go get it. You need to be adaptable, really adaptable. You need to be creative, out-of-the-box thinkers. And—I had to make the acronym work—knightly. All that really means is brave, and ethical and loyal to your cause.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah, I love that.

Dawn Haynes: Attributes of a CRACK tester.

Jennifer Bonine: There you go. What a great tip. Thanks, Dawn. Now, you all have attributes of a CRACK tester. Remember that, I doubt you'll forget it now, which is lovely.

Dawn, thank you so much for being with us. How can people find you if they have more questions for you about your Yoga for Testers, or nonfunctional topics?

Dawn Haynes: I'm on Twitter, I think it's Dawn M. Haynes. If not, just look up the hashtag for STARWEST, you'll see some of the things I posted for the Test Lab. I'm also on LinkedIn, Dawn M. Haynes. Find me there, love to meet you out there. Namaste, people.

Jennifer Bonine: Thanks, everyone. Another interview coming up next.

Dawn HaynesDawn Haynes is CEO, testing coach, and consultant for PerfTestPlus, Inc. A highly regarded trainer of software testers, Dawn blends experience with a real-world view to provide testers with tools and techniques to help them generate new approaches to common and complex software testing problems. Passionate about improving the state of testing, Dawn engages with testers through writing, social media, training, meetups, and testing conferences worldwide. Selected in 2010 as one of twelve women of influence in Software Test and Performance magazine, Dawn is a founding member of the International Society for Software Testing, and a lifetime member, former secretary, and director of the Association for Software Testing.

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