Peak Bagging at STPCon

Today at STPCon Chris led two interactive sessions, one on Most Effective Ways to Improve Software Quality, and another on the  Makings of a Great QA Leader. Both sessions used the Group Wisdom Without Groupthink method to brainstorm and then rank ideas based on the collective experience of the participants. 

For me, the unexpected highlight of the day was the lunchtime keynote speaker, chemist and adventuress Arlene Blum. She described her all-female ascent of Anapurna, and her crusade to remove toxic fire retardants from children's clothing, claiming that the latter was the more difficult project by far. As she told stories from the various phases of her life, I kept having to pick my jaw up off the floor. The STPCon organizers are to be applauded for such a breathtaking choice of speaker. Just the kind of stimulation one needed to dive back into afternoon sessions.

As promised to the participants, here are the results of both workshops, ranked by how many votes they received:

Most Effective Ways to Improve Software Quality


  • Test environment that resembles production


  • Understanding high level business needs before development starts
  • Clearly document requirements


  • Agile–Involving customer early and often
  • Group effort, teamwork
  • QA and dev pairing and collaborating through design
  • Communication between business users and development
  • Opt-in for project teams
  • Finding champions for the product (end users)
  • Good simulation tools


  • Sprint review demo
  • Detailed info on defects/review with developers
  • Thinking about testability early
  • Avoid requirement creep
  • Knowledge-based testing by QA
  • Dev spec process
  • QA & Dev reporting to same manager
  • Recognizing impact of architectural decisions
  • Investing in analysis of automation
  • Clearly defiined mission statement and ccollective buy-in
  • Not caring about test results (bad/avoid)
  • IT governance process to oversee development

Chris led the same session last year, so it is interesting to compare those results.

Makings of a Great QA Leader


  • Balance of work and fun
  • Effective communication
  • Empowerment


  • Understands the big picture
  • Personal integrity
  • Trustworthy advocate
  • Respect


  • Effective and informed questioning
  • Customer focused
  • Keeps their cool
  • Remains impartial in problem solving
  • 1:1 peer focus
  • Recognizes strengths
  • Hiring better people
  • Open to suggestions
  • Attention to details
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One thought on “Peak Bagging at STPCon

  1. Llewellyn Falco

    Wow, it’s amazing the the number one thing in my book
    “continuous integration with unit tests”
    didn’t even make the list. Even if you were to abstract it out
    “through and constant regression testing”
    it’s not on the list. 🙁


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