Blog posts in English

The Art of Doubting

As a software tester, it is my job to question things. Questioning involves doubt, but is that doubt of a certain kind? Perhaps; let’s call it ‘good doubt’.
Monday May 15th 2017, I facilitated a philosophical, protreptic salon in Copenhagen about the art of doubting. The protreptic is a dialogue or conversation which has the objective of making us aware and connecting us to personal and shared values.
Doubt is interesting for many reasons. Self-doubt is probably something we all have and can relate to. But there seems to be value in a different kind of doubt than that with which we doubt ourselves.
Doubt is related to certainty. Confidence can be calculated statistically, and that seems to be the opposite of doubt.
Science almost depends on doubt: Even the firmest scientific knowledge is rooted in someone formulating a hypothesis and proving it by doubting it and attempting to prove it wrong.
Even religion, faith, seems to be related to doubt.
It is always interesting to examine the origins of a worud. The Danish and German words “tvivl” and “Zweifel” have the same meaning as the English doubt and all relate to the duo; two; zwei; to.
That appears to indicate that when we doubt we can be in “two minds”, so to speak.
So is doubt a special type of reflection, “System-2”, or slow thinking?
The protreptic is always about the general in terms of the personal. We examine our relations to doubt.
“What is it that our doubts wants or desires for us?” was one of my protreptic questions during the salon.
We circled a lot around that particular question. Finding an answer was difficult and we came back to self-doubt, which can be difficult to live with. Self-doubt can even harm our images, both the external ones and those that are internal to ourselves.
Leaders are usually expected not to have self-doubt: A prime minister risk loosing the next election if he doubts his own decisions and qualities. A CEO that doubts her own actions will drive the share value of the company down.
But there is a good doubt, and good doubt seems to be of a helpful nature.
Good leadership requires having the courage to doubt. It seems to help us act wisely and based on our experiences.
During the salon, my personal image of doubt changed. In the beginning I thought of doubt as a kind of cognitive function, perhaps a process I had to go through. Doubting could even be an event.
But at the end of the salon, my image of doubt changed into that a good friend walking with me through my life. Continuously present, if I want him.
With that image we found an answer to the question: Doubt is my friend. A friend who wants my actions to be driven not only by my instincts or simple gut feelings. A friends that help me shape my actions by my values.

News in English

Chaos to Kairos – NYC May 1st session on playful testing skills with music and philosophy

Jessica Ingrassellino and I will perform a workshop at the NYC Testers Meetup on Monday May 1st during the Test Leadership Congress. Join the meetup to participate.
The session will be based on the workshop we did at CounterPlay, an international play festival which took place in March in Aarhus, Denmark. Titled “Playful Software Exploration” the topic was value driven improvisation skills in testing. Together with the participants we tested, performed music and formed a philosophical, protreptic circle
The somewhat disturbing background of the workshop is that in a performance oriented and individualized tech industry, we are expected to drive ourselves to be the best in a complex or even chaotic reality. Remaining true to our professional and personal values while staying sane and ready to act and perform every day can be very challenging.
Our CounterPlay workshop was a success. Collaboratively we gained sense of and got to the core of important values in testing. We were even interviewed for the popular show “The Harddisk” on Danish national radio.
This time we would like to playfully explore the significance of Kairos in testing.
Kairos is Greek and means the supreme moment in which the future is transformed to the past with a particularly fruitful outcome. Kairos is important in rhetorics because while there are rules of good communication, there are moments in which speaking and acting is particularly fruitful: There is a time and space for the good talk. And even the best performance will fail if kairos is not considered.
This is an aspect of all improvisation and play, and good testing is in many ways always an improvised, playful act.
We know it when we perform exploratory testing.
But even when testing is turned into a controlled and scripted process, it makes sense to perceive testing in the microscope as a playful exploration and experimentation with potential and actual outcomes – even outcomes beyond the directly observable testing results: E.g. learning points for developers and management.
At the core is that testing makes a difference for people around us, even those who are not directly involved in testing and developing.
So let’s think beyond the processes, and functional and technical perspectives on testing, and explore software testing as a playful and human event with potential to create order in due time.
No prior knowledge or talents are required to join the workshop. But bring curiosity about values in testing, and be ready to play and improvise, introspect and think and reflect abstractly.
Jess and Anders

Nyheder på dansk

Kunsten at tvivle: Proptreptisk samtalesalon nr. 8

Det er videnskaben, der bærer vores samfund i dag, og med den følger søgen efter forståelse. Med forståelse kan vi skabe nyt og blive rigere og sundere.
Forståelse indebærer, at vi indtager et standpunkt, altså står ét bestemt sted. Dermed stiller vi os i modsætning til andre standpunkter: Forstår vi noget, kan vi ikke indtage flere modstridende standpunkter om det, vi forstår.
Så med forståelse følger holdning.
Holdning baseret på forståelse virker vigtigere end noget andet, når vi skal tage store beslutninger. Hvordan mon statsministeren eller præsidenten tænker, når han skal sende sit land i krig: Tvivler han og ryster på hånden? Eller har han læst og forstået situationen eksakt og præcist og udmønter derefter forståelsen i handlekraft?
Visheden, der følger med forståelsen, giver sikkerhed og signalerer styrke. Dens modstykke, tvivlen, kan være tegn på uduelighed og svaghed.
Men måske rummer tvivlen alligevel noget godt?
Mange krige har i eftertidens dom vist sig meningsløse og måske mest baseret på rygter og løgne. Vi ved det egentlig godt: Tit søger folk jo ukritisk efter vished og giver måske sig selv og andre indtryk af sikkerhed og styrke men snyder i sidste ende kun sig selv og andre.
Måske findes der en værdifuld, reflekterende tvivl, en dyd, som vi som ledere og mennesker bør kende og opdyrke for at bevare og udvikle kritisk sans og en sans for de sandheder, der rummer nuancer, der ikke kan måles videnskabeligt og sikkert?
Det kræver mod at tvivle, men tvivlen må i alle tilfælde være nødvendig, for at vi personligt og organisatorisk kan mestre de irrationelle psykologiske for-forståelser og mavereaktioner, som alle mennesker trækkes med.
Ja måske er tvivlen ligefrem en forudsætning for at kunne handle empatisk og begavet i det daglige?
I denne ottende samtalesalon vil vi derfor lede efter værdier i og omkring tvivlen, ja dyrke selve kunsten at tvivle.
Tilmelding er obligatorisk – og det er afmelding i øvrigt også, hvis du bliver forhindret. Hvis vi har tomme stole, vil vi nemlig gerne kunne give dem til andre interesserede.
Vi glæder os til at se dig!
Dato: 15. maj 2017
Tidspunkt: 16.00 – 18.30
Sted: Gjesing Coaching, Prinsesse Charlottesgade 31, kld, 2200 København N
Tilmelding til: (obligatorisk af hensyn til forplejning)
Kærlige hilsner
Karen og Anders

News in English Nyheder

Protreptic Salon 7: Play and Passion

We hereby invite to the 7th protreptic salon in Copenhagen, this time with Jess Ingrassellino from New York – and for the first time in English.
Join Jess, Karen, and I in a salon with the theme “Play and Passion”:
Growing up, we become serious and think that play is childish behavior to be abandoned. Later we discover that the truth about play is more nuanced.
Play represents a very human aspect of life and it seems to have power to connect us to passions and personal values even in difficult situations.
The subject we would like to explore is how we stay true to ourselves, thrive, and face challenges of our professional roles in playful ways.
We wish to uncover wisdom about how we can playfully be productive, nurture our relations, and perhaps even serve higher causes.
Be quick to apply for this unique and intimate salon with music and philosophical dialogue.
Date: April 3rd 2017
Time: 16.00 – 18.30
Where: Gjesing Coaching, Prinsesse Charlottesgade 31, kld, 2200 København N
Apply to:
Should you have registered, but be unable to participate, please let us know as the number of chairs we can fit in is limited and we’d love to share with someone else if you can’t make it.

Jessica Ingrassellino is a musician, teacher, philosopher, researcher, programmer, business owner, and software tester from New York. Prior to her life as a software tester, she was a full-time music teacher in New York City public schools. In 2015, she completed a dissertation about assessment and school music; in 2016, she wrote “Python Projects for Kids“. Currently, she test software at She also runs, working within the New York metropolitan area to bring improvisatory, imaginative coding education to underserved communities.

Nyheder Nyheder på dansk

Invitation til protreptisk samtalesalon 6: Hvad med generøsiteten?

Billederne af den tilsyneladende generøse præsident, der ved indsættelsen selvsikkert og iscenesat giver magten tilbage til folket var et tema på de sociale medier. Han sammenlignedes med en bestemt tyran fra en Batman-film, der brugte samme ord og udtryk. Det er urkomisk og skræmmende på én gang. Tiden vil vise, hvad der sker i USA nu.
Når jeg tænker på frihed og ansvar, så kommer relationen til mine medmennesker altid og forplumrer billedet af den våde drøm om at kun at være mig selv nærmest. Drømmen bliver et mareridt. For, hvem ønsker at være i fuld kontrol over sit liv og dermed alt omkring omgivelserne? Er man så ikke helt alene om det hele, og dermed helt, helt ensom?
Jeg må derfor straks vende tilbage til tankerne om, at min frihed kun kan leve i fællesskab med mine medmennesker, og deraf opstår vist nødvendigheden af noget ”givende”, ikke kun i en større sags tjeneste, eller blot for kollektivets skyld.
Jeg kan simpelthen ikke føle mig fri uden at give.
Temaet for næste samtalesalon er generøsitet, for vi er nysgerrige på, hvad vi mon kan finde ud af ved samtalen om den. Den er så smuk og fin, men det kunne jo for eksempel også tænkes, at der ind imellem skulle sættes grænser for den? Vi ved det ikke.
Tilmelding er obligatorisk- og det er afmelding i øvrigt også, hvis du bliver forhindret. Hvis vi har tomme stole vil vi nemlig gerne kunne give dem til andre interesserede.
Vi glæder os til at se dig!
Dato: 6. marts 2017
Tidspunkt: 16.00 – 18.30
Sted: Gjesing Coaching, Prinsesse Charlottesgade 31, kld, 2200 København N
Tilmelding til: (obligatorisk af hensyn til forplejning)
Kærlige hilsner
Karen og Anders

Nyheder Nyheder på dansk

9. januar: Protreptisk samtalesalon 5 om det frie ansvar

Med frihed følger ansvar. Det er elementært, men kan måske alligevel være svært at acceptere. For hvordan kan jeg være fri, hvis jeg er tynget af ansvarets åg? Kan jeg overhovedet bære den store ansvarlighed?
Tænk, at kunne give sig hen, give den gas, leve livet som det er – og som man selv er! Dét må da være ægte frihed. Det er i alle tilfælde en forestilling man kun kan begære.
Men så bobler alligevel passionen og engagementet. Alt det jeg af min egen fri vilje brænder for, og når jeg tænker efter, dét jeg er klar til at kæmpe for. For mig selv, men måske især for noget større end mig.
Måske er ansvar og den endnu sværere ansvarlighed alligevel noget smukt som er værd at stræbe efter, ja ligefrem begære?
Lad os finde ud af det. Den foregående, fjerde protreptiske samtalesalon havde frihed som omdrejningspunkt for samtalen. Nu er turen kommet til ansvar.
Vi samles i en “visdomscirkel”, vender os mod os selv og hinanden, og i faciliteret samtale konfronterer vi grundværdierne. Deltagelse er gratis, men hvis du kan, så medbring gerne 50 kr til kassen vi bruger på forplejning.
Der kræves ingen forudsætninger at deltage udover en interesse for samtalen, der opstår.
Dato: 9. januar 2016
Tidspunkt: 16.00 – 18.30
Sted: Gjesing Coaching, Prinsesse Charlottesgade 31, kld, 2200 København N
Tilmelding til: (obligatorisk af hensyn til forplejning)
Venlige hilsner
Karen Gjesing
Gjesing Coaching / 35 37 82 04
Anders Dinsen
ASYM APS / 28 18 49 25

Blog posts in English

Reinventing Testers and Staying Sane in New York

I did a bonus talk/workshop on Tuesday on Test Masters Academy‘s conference during the Reinventing Testers week. Title was: “Reinventing Testers, Reinventing Myself, Staying Sane.” The talk was an introduction of explorative, valuable, and supportive conversations.
Imagine you are at the scrum meeting. You’ve reinvented yourself as a tester and feel fit in the new team. But today, a senior manager has joined the meeting: The release is in testing and “go live” is today.
The problem is that you are facing some very odd issues. How are you going to manage talking about them?
Testers are often under pressure. We have to stay cool – and sane.

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect” – Mark Twain

(It was Jess Ingrassellino who tweeted this quote a few days ago.)
An experienced tester on my team recently mentioned that a sudden change in schedule had caused him to fear he would loose sense of himself.
I am very passionate about providing testers with ways to remain true to themselves, even under pressure.
In the talk, I introduced the type of philosophical conversations I practice as often as possible with team members and friends: Protreptic dialogues.
(I have written and talked about it before.)
We formed a circle and I spread Dialoogle cards with pictures on the floor for us to pick from: Pick a card that relates to testing.
Picking a picture of something and associating it to testing requires you to use your intuition better and think creatively about yourself and what you do.
The thoughts enable protreptic conversations in which I as the “guide” and facilitator listens and ask questions. The conversation is personal, but never intimidating as it is always only about assisting you in reflecting positively about your thoughts, ideas and values.
Sane comes from latin sanus, which means healthy, sober, sensible.
Being sensible, sensing, sensemaking and staying sane is linked. The kind of sanity I seek, is that where we seek to understand who we are, and stay true to our values.
I shared this slide in PDF with five helpful principles that you can follow to perform explorative, valuable and supportive conversations with colleagues and friends.

Morning sun reflecting in the rivers as seen from the insanely tall Empire State Building. Far out in the horizon, the Atlantic is barely visible. New York is beautiful in its own ways.

Nyheder Nyheder på dansk

10. oktober: Protreptisk samtalesalon 4: Kontrol er frihed, men er vores frihed blevet kontrolleret?

Det var spændende at lege med det store spørgsmål “hvem er jeg?” i august. Gode fortællinger og indslag formede sig og vendte os mod værdierne, og vi opdagede, at nok er vores værdier meget personlige, men vi er dog bundet sammen af dem mens vi vandrer på de stejle skrænter på bjerget.
Det kan være svært at vide, hvem man er. Engang var det myndighederne, der vidste det. Det slog mig forleden, at i dag er det Outlook, Facebook og Google der ved det.
De senere år er der sket noget i arbejdslivet og måske også i dagliglivet, for kontrollen har udviklet sig i takt med at it er alle vegne. Systemerne i samfundet er også blevet mere og mere kontrollerende i samme takt. Kontrollen fylder.
Men hvad med friheden?
Min kloge søn siger, at kontrol er frihed. Det er noget med at have kontrol, men også at være kontrolleret. At have frihed til kontrol. At kunne kontrollere sig til frihed. …
Det er vi nysgerrige på og derfor inviterer til samtale om frihed, der er knyttet til alle de fire menneskelige værdier, det gode, det sande, det smukke og det retfærdige.
Som altid i samtalesalonen er alle frie til at sige og tænke, hvad vi kan om emnet, og undervejs, denne gang, vil Karen tale om selve protreptikken.
Skynd dig at melde dig til, for vi har valgt at begrænse antallet af deltagere i kredsen til otte.
Dato: 10. oktober 2016
Tidspunkt: 16.00 – 18.30
Sted: Gjesing Coaching, Prinsesse Charlottesgade 31, kld, 2200 København N
Tilmelding til: (obligatorisk af hensyn til forplejning)
Venlige hilsner
Karen Gjesing
Gjesing Coaching / 35 37 82 04
Anders Dinsen
ASYM APS / 28 18 49 25

Tag trappen ned og hop i. Vi svømmer en tur i begrebet “frihed”.

Blog posts in English

What I learn listening to myself

Years ago, I was hired as a tester on a large project. After a week or so, my manager came to my desk to hear how I was doing. 
I wanted to explain her all the details about the tests I had carried out, what I had found, and my plans for what I should test next week, but she asked a question which totally surprised me: 
“What is your gut feeling about this software?”
I realized that my mind was so filled with details that I had completely lost track of what I was up to and how my feelings were. Thankfully, her question brought me back to my senses, so to speak. 

Stressful life with autism and ADHD
My two oldest and my youngest son have diagnosis in the autistic spectrum. The third of my four sons has ADHD. 
Family life with neurological disorders can be stressful, and I have been living on the edge of stress and in periods even nearing depression for years. 
Exercising is a daily practice to me to stay healthy. Coaching works too. I find, the most important thing is to remain true to my senses.
So I have learnt to listen to myself: My thoughts, ideas and what I say and do. I sometimes write it down in my diary and make mental notes. 
And I ask the question: Why do I think like I do?

Acceptance and appreciation
It is not about analyzing myself, self-therapy or dissecting my mind, feelings or personality.
But the “why” is important: Asking myself, why I have certain attitudes and opinions directs attention towards what’s shaping me.
Fundamentally, I learn to accept and appreciate my thoughts, ideas, and actions, and thereby appreciate myself. It is, as Kierkegaard has reminded us, a daily activity. It is something that somehow has to be relearnt every day. I’m not starting over from scratch, but remaining true to my gut feelings is a daily choice.

Nyheder Nyheder på dansk

29. august: Protreptisk samtalesalon 3, "Hvem er jeg?"

Vi inviterer hermed til den tredje protreptiske samtalesalon. Første gang talte vi om dømmekraften, så om selv-ledelse. Denne gang bliver emnet det helt personlige, idet vi lader samtalen dreje sig om spørgsmålet:

Hvem er jeg?

I det danske sprog anno 2016 er identitet det vi signalerer og viser frem. Måske er det en måde at retfærdiggøre os selv? Måske vi kæmper for at få lov at være noget for andre?
Men jeg er ikke kun ydre. Jeg har en indre oplevelse af mig selv. Har jeg mon en kerne, der er mig og som jeg kan finde? Kierkegaard taler om at jeg er forholdet til forholdet og jeg skal vælge mig selv. Der er mange perspektiver på det. Ole Fogh Kirkeby har skrevet en lille bog om det man måske kan vide om sig selv. Den er næsten et katalog over perspektiver på det filosofiske spørgsmål som vi i tiden er nok mere optaget af end nogensinde før: Hvem er jeg?
Lad os denne gang tage en runde omkring de grundlæggende menneskelige værdier for at finde ud af om de kan tegne et billede af ”mig selv” som det kommer til udtryk gennem mine tanker, handlinger, valg, fortællinger, digte, kunst…
Hvis du har noget du værdsætter og som måske siger noget værdifuldt om dig selv – det kan være noget håndgribeligt som en tekst, et digt, et kunstværk, men det kan også være en fortælling eller et stykke musik – så tag det endelig med så vi kan bruge det i samtalen.
Du er velkommen til at tage en ven eller bekendt med. Nye såvel som tidligere deltagere er meget velkomne.
Dato: 29. august 2016
Tidspunkt: 16.00 – 18.30
Sted: Gjesing Coaching, Prinsesse Charlottesgade 31, kld, 2200 København N
Tilmelding til: (obligatorisk af hensyn til forplejning)
Venlige hilsner
Karen Gjesing
Gjesing Coaching / 35 37 82 04
Anders Dinsen
ASYM APS / 28 18 49 25
Hvem er jeg