In 2007 & 2008 I used to provide ISTQB CTFL trainings many times. In a company (its name cannot be mentioned) we assessed the skills of all testers early this year, and proposed to send almost all testers to pass the exam on foundation level. Cost of getting a trainer would have been too high (>200 kHUF each), therefore we decided to provide the meeting ourselves, and pay for the exam only.

Due to the high number of trainees and their limited availability we split them into groups of 8, and went through all the seven chapters. This resulted more than 40 sessions. We started the training series in late April, have it suspended during summer vacations, and finish it in September. At the end we have had 10 sessions to practice, and some optional ones.

To ensure that pupils make the effort to learn at home, we stated that the company pays the exam to whom only, who passes both in-house pre-exam above 80%.

Four people have qualified themselves in September, another four in October (two in Hungarian, all others in English), and they all have passed their exams above 65%. Currently another nine people are in the pipeline.

It is a great success to me. First, it was not easy to show the management how ISTQB CTFL training supports they effort in reaching goals. Then, it is not easy to get the cost approved. Provision of 50+ training sessions is also a challenge.

I already have a 10+ list of new applicants for a similar internal training course held next year…

Back to the future. I’m promoted to be Quality and Test Manager again.

This is the job I always loved to do. It was a long ride to get here again, but I succeed. The last one-and-a-half year was like licking the honey-mug outside. I was able to see the opportunities, but it was hard to manage people not missing them. Now I have full control again to implement my plan and ideas.

Why I love this job? It’s easy to have your team to do what you want if you have control on them. Quality Manager needs to influence people, whom he does not have supervision on. Letting a C-level manager to do what you want is a real communication and political challenge. Needs bravery, lack of fear, mastership in communication. This is what a Quality Manager does.

There is no doubt, the most significant risk of my work sits in the management’s office. I must find the way to give them what they wish, instead of giving them what they require. Even if they don’t understand the things I’m doing.

Interesting period approaches.

I decided to post more, but normally I have no time to log in to the interface, therefore I have activated post by e-mail feature. Hopefully you will see more but shorter posts from me. I hate twitter, but sometimes I have to tell my impressions in short messages, they will appear here, through e-mails.

Let’s try now!

My friend applied for a job in one of the biggest telecom provider of Hungary. As the first step of the interview process she was invited to fill a personality test. She arrived in time, but there was a crowd of hundreds.  At the door she was informed that she needed to pay EUR 2.5,- to fill the test. He entered into a discussion with the guard guy, and it turned out that the nice office was rented for only these two days. She left immediately.

EU. Hungary. Budapest. Today.

I must react on a post of Tamás Cservenyák, author of “Tudatos vezetés” (Deliberate Leadership) blog. He introduces a book of Mintzberg: the Managers not MBAs. Mintzberg made sharp criticism against MBA courses saying that the attendees were not mature enough, they haven’t had several years of leadership behind, and the MBA classes gave too much analytical skills instead of soft ones. He concludes that MBAs are not skilled managers, instead, they are not trained to manage.

I might agree with his points. MBA does not change your personality and attitude. It gives you techniques and methodologies, and a completely different approach to the business. I know it from my experience. I was not a leader when I started the MBA. It was in 2004, and I have just been promoted to be the leader of the testing group, including one person only. I must say that I had no leadership experience in job that time, but in the college I had had some experience in motivating and influencing people. This was the starting point.

The MBA class that I attended also focused on hard skills, but among them there were some classes and roleplays, where we were able to see how other people react on our behavior. Then I attended some other soft skill trainings, but I must say that the thing helps me most in leadership is my attitude and the ethical intelligence I gained during my childhood and studies.

I think Mintzberg is wrong. When you are to hire a technician you should examine two things: hard skills, how he know methodologies and technology, and soft skills, how he can behave in your team. One can say that as we go upper in the organization, the soft skills becames more focused than hard ones. I think this is not true.

If you are looking for a manager to employ on a high level management job, you must look for both hard and soft skills. But this time hard skills are not technical ones. They are management hard skills. To motivate others you may have soft skills, and if your personality and attitude allows, you will be successful in it. But there is another angle. If you know some different motivation theory and technique, you are able to pick the one, which is most suits your attitude, and you may be able to use it. This is a management hard skill. Knowing different management techniques, methodologies is necessary to be an effective manager.

In Hungary the average manager does not have management hard skills. Once I wanted to introduce Gantt chart in project time planning, they said that they didn’t want to learn such new techniques. Gantt chart have been invented in 1897… The most of Hungarian managers are not on the level of the profession as Henry Ford was in 1920. They do not even understand basic rules of management, they have no clue what gross margin is. They have no clue why their team does not do what they ordered.

Therefore, I think, at least in Hungary, having an MBA is a plus giving you a manager, who has management hard skills, and this is what you cannot get from anywhere else in Hungary.

The reason I was a bit upset by reading the article is that Mintzberg had given a weapon into the hand of managers, who think their management style is the best possible, and – accidentally – they have no MBA degree. And, unfortunately, they don’t even know that there are hard skills of management.

…I have learned two things:

  • Never send legal concerns in e-mail. If you do that, that mail will be the first evidence of your intentionality. Especially do not copy people living in “less democratic” countries. Enemy is always listening.
  • People from Japan may arrive at any time. It is very likely that your phone rings NOW, and your Japanise client tells that he is half way between the airport and the office, and he wants to meet you NOW. Regardless of the fact that you are currently at home spending your holiday. Japanese should tell me how it works. You just catch a plane going anywhere, and when it has landed you check where you are and call the closest clients? The journey takes 10 hours, please call me when you are boarding, not after arrival.

I do recommend this link: http://hazaeshaladas.blog.hu/2011/08/09/privat_sarok_mire_valok_a_fekek_es_ellensulyok

I am registered in Linkedin, so it weekly sends me recent activities of my connections. Sometimes it’s interesting to see when all members of a certain group of a company update their profile on the same day. It is an excellent primary indicator to predict unwanted turnovers, or send them an offer.

I normally ignore these mails, but today I clicked on a job advertisment of Laszlo Spiller, my favourite IT headhunter. Finally it turned out that the ad does not match with my profile, but its link led me to Laszlo’s blog. I’m familiar with this blog, we used to discuss and share our experiences on blog engines and job hunting on the Internet. I started to browse latest articles, and I found one, which totally, fully expresses one of my thoughts.

Here is the link, the article is in Hungarian. http://spillerlaszlo.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/rambok-alkonya-az-it-vilagaban/

Laszlo tells us what requirements his clients set against software developers. I remember, when I first hired developers, I focused on professionality. Attitude, personality and behavior defects were out of the focus.

Laszlo points at the changing trend. Nowadays a software developer, who is really professional but cannot communicate and integrate with others, cannot see the big picture, cannot understand and fulfill user needs should not be hired, or should be laid off. Soft skills has become the most important factor. Anyone can learn anything, but the attitude never changes.

„The best software developers of Hungary work in our company” says the statement I hear quite frequently. And then it turns out that these people works alone like many Chuck Norrises, and the code they produce needs long years of maintenance, but no one can understand that, except them. In these cases I normally say that „you may have excellent programmers, but not software develoeprs”. Sometimes these programmers are promoted to be the leader of the team, meanwile they are lacking all necessary soft skills, and – when the team disappears – they become the only member of a board, which is created specially for him. And the only thing they can and want to do is programming. Nothing else they willing to think of.

Back to the article, Laszlo asked his clients, how a software developer looks like, who they don’t want at all. The response is exacly what I always wanted to explain to my clients:

„We do not search for Rambo. We do not want to have a person, who wants to save the world alone. We don’t like such ones, however they solve the problem very well, but what they produce cannot be used on strategic level. Takes more to understand his code than write a new one from scratch. And an important question comes up: what does happen if Rambo is relocated from Vietnam to Afghanistan? How can we use his code? He takes the knowledge with him, and nobody can continue his job ever.”

Thank you Laszlo, this is exactly, what I think, I’m sure I’ll refer to this article many times. But next time please type an article to show me the best way how to explain these facts to a management containing Rambos, of course without being fired at the second sentence.  Thanks.

Has been done today.

Yesterday I attended to the ISO/IEC 15504 SPICE (Software Process Improvement and Capability Determination) and Automotive SPICE (the same tailored to automotive suppliers) training. The training was provided by Hungarian Software Quality Consulting Institute Ltd.

Most of the things the coach said I had already known, but the comparison between CMMI, TQM and SPICE was interesting.