Mike Bland

Organizational culture change Instigator and Stratocaster aficionado

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One more iteration on the Google Testing Grouplet story, this time tailored to Netflix's culture of "Freedom and Responsibility".

- Los Gatos, CA
Tags: Google, Test Mercenaries, Testing Grouplet, Testing on the Toilet
Discuss: Discuss "A Song of Freedom and Responsibility" on Google+

Yesterday I presented another iteration on the Google Testing Grouplet story at Netflix entitled A Game of Tests or, A Song of Freedom and Responsibility. Whereas The Convergence of Wills emphasized the need for organizations to serve their people and grant them autonomy, Netflix is known for its Freedom and Responsibility credo. Consequently, this talk emphasizes how Googlers eventually adopted common testing tools and practices willingly after the Testing Grouplet worked hard to convince them of their value.

Many thanks to Mike McGarr and Dianne Marsh for honoring me with this opportunity, and for their generous hospitality. I had a wonderful time hanging out with several Netflix folks for the entirety of the afternoon and evening, learning about Netflix culture and operations and cracking up over a couple beers at the end of the day. It was also great to see Noel Yap, another fellow ex-Googler, who’s been at Netflix for some time now—and who, in my recent bout of obsessive absent-mindedness, I neglected to contact ahead of time.

(I’ll address this recent obsession more fully in a future post, but to preview: I’ve revisited the ./go script concept, this time as a highly-modular, pure bash framework that I’ve posted to GitHub as mbland/go-script-bash. I also got sidelined for a day by my friend Brian Lefler from USDS, who innocently asked if, after my recent bash studies, I knew of a better way to implement grep -o $exp | sort | uniq -c to count unique occurences of strings matching $exp. This led me down a dark, yet enlightening path that I documented in my count-matching-lines.sh gist.)

Today I’m taking a day to hang out in Los Gatos and Mountain View, retracing old paths, awakening memories that are surprisingly more pleasant than I remembered. I’m especially thrilled that Dana Street Roasting Company is still thriving. I’m about to meet Henry Poole from CivicActions for lunch in Sunnyvale (thanks to an intro from Rob Read), and I’m really looking forward to dinner with my old Testing Grouplet partners-in-crime Ana Ulin and Antoine Picard this evening. Then it’s back to DC tomorrow.

I never thought I would ever say this, but…it’s kinda nice to be back here.




I delivered a talk on the importance of documentation and training to the culture change mission during the Chadevs weekly lunch Meetup.

- Chattanooga
Tags: Federal government, Google, Test Mercenaries, Testing Grouplet, Testing on the Toilet
Discuss: Discuss ""Making the Right Thing the Easy Thing" presentation" on Google+

The video of my "Making the Right Thing the Easy Thing" presentation from today’s Chadevs weekly lunch Meetup is already available. I’ve also already posted the "Making the Right Thing the Easy Thing" slides. The organizer, Brett, told me he thought he counted eighty-three in attendance.

All in all, I was pretty happy with it. I wasn’t going for as much drama and laughter as earlier talks, but folks seemed to enjoy it, and there was some good Q&A afterwards.

I’m now finishing the last workshop session of the afternoon. Got one more day tomorrow, then it’s back home to Alexandria.




I delivered a talk Monday, am halfway through the automated testing workshops, and will be live streaming another talk Thursday at noon.

- Chattanooga
Tags: Federal government, Google, Test Mercenaries, Testing Grouplet, Testing on the Toilet
Discuss: Discuss "Live from Chattanooga" on Google+

It’s been a busy week, but so worth it. The drive down through the Shenandoah and the Tennessee Valley this past weekend was picture-perfect and delightfully uneventful traffic-wise. Chattanooga is a charming, highly walkable little town, with a lot going on, especially in the tech realm. Meeting folks from the Tennessee Valley Authority and other local companies enrolled in my Unit testing in Node.js workshop at The Company Lab has left me impressed with the range of talent and the sense of local community.

On Monday, I delivered The Convergence of Wills (abridged) to a packed room at the TVA, followed by a lively question and answer session. Tuesday I began leading three classes’ worth of my four-day automated testing workshop. I’m definitely learning a lot about how I might improve the presentation, especially after realizing that many folks in the workshop have lots of frontend JavaScript experience and some functional testing experience, and work primarily in a Windows environment. They know a lot more than I do about frontend frameworks and tools, but most of the principles and techniques involved in unit testing and coding for testability appear new to many. It’s nice getting pushed out of my comfort zone a little, and watching a roomful of people similarly getting pushed.

I’m also realizing that going through every line of the tutorial in detail could take a month worth of workshop sessions. Despite it containing only 600 lines of code and 1200 lines of test, there’s a lot of depth and breadth to cover. As a result, I’m quickly skipping over some sections and giving everyone the liberty to focus on the parts in which they’re most interested. I’m hoping folks get something new out of the experience that they can use, even if they don’t get everything out of it.

On Thursday at noon Eastern Daylight Time, in between workshop sessions, I’m delivering a new talk called "Making the Right Thing the Easy Thing" at the Chadevs Lunch Meetup. The talk will be live streamed via the Chadevs YouTube stream, and will be archived via the Chadevs YouTube channel. It’s going to have a degree of overlap with my other talks, of course, but I’m going to focus mainly on the role of documentation and in-house training in producing culture change.