Community Stories: From TestSphere Cards to MoT Meetup Organiser

Community Stories: From TestSphere Cards to MoT Meetup Organiser

Read "From TestSphere Cards To MoT Meetup Organiser" in Community Stories by Emna Ayadi

When Emna Ayadi attended Belgrade Test Conference (BTC) 2018, she discovered many amazing things including TestSphere cards, the RiskStorming workshop and the Ministry of Testing. This is her story about her experience of  RiskStorming, how she took that learning experience back home to Tunisia and then set up the very first Ministry of Testing Meetup in Africa!

The Brilliant Discovery of TestSphere, RiskStorming & MoT

By Emna Ayadi

As a software tester, I’m very curious to learn new testing techniques and new ways to motivate people and break the everyday routine. One of the ways I do this is by attending international conferences. 

My experience with TestSphere and RiskStorming started with the very first international conference I attended, the Belgrade Test Conference (BTC) in 2018. I chose to attend one workshop which was "Riskstorming & Brand Your Strategy" facilitated by Ard Kramer & Mirjana Kolarov.

100 Cards: Yes, It’s The TestSphere Deck!  

It was not a classic software testing workshop, as instead of using a laptop we used a set of 100 cards called TestSphere co-created by Beren Van Daele and Ministry of Testing (MoT).

The deck is split into 20 cards of five colors: 

  • Blue cards “Quality aspects”: Aspects of your application that you will test.
  • Orange cards “Patterns”: Patterns in your testing, and patterns that work against you in testing, such as biases.
  • Green cards “Techniques”: Clever activities used in testing to find possible problems.
  • Pink cards “Heuristics”: Possible ways of tackling a problem.
  • Purple cards “Feelings”: Every feeling triggered by your testing should be handled as a fact.

Each card explains a different software testing related concept with a slogan and three examples that were designed to help you think about the concept in different ways.

TestSphere Deck

There are many different ways that you can use TestSphere cards and you can find out more about these on the Ministry of Testing site. One great way that you can use the TestSphere is to create a test strategy for a system under test by playing the collaborative, strategic board game; RiskStorming.

Collaborating Through RiskStorming 

The workshop at BTC had a RiskStorming session where, in small groups, we collaboratively created a test strategy on a product and then sold our test plan to the class.

To run a RiskStorming session you will need:

  • TestSphere cards
  • TestPlan Template
  • RiskStorming Board 
  • Sticky notes and pens

You can get most of these items on The Ministry of Testing site.

RiskStorming Board

Phase One - Which Quality Aspects Matter Most?

The first step of this workshop consisted of defining the six quality aspects that matter the most for our project. 

The below photo shows this step and you can see the blue cards were used to identify the six quality aspects.  

RiskStorming experience from BTC 2018

Phase Two: Which Risks Endanger Our Quality Aspects?

After defining the most important quality aspect of our system, we thought about possible risks that could occur during the project. A brainstorming session was done between all participants in order to determine what can threaten the system under test. We used pens and sticky notes to write down the possible risks using the format below: 

  • Risk : ----- 
  • Cause : -----
  • Consequence : -----

Each sticky note contained only one possible risk, and every quality aspect of the system we were testing could have one or more related risks. For example, if one of the 6 chosen blue quality aspect cards was “SECURITY AND PERMISSIONS," we discussed the possible risks related to security that could harm the system and each risk identified was written on one sticky note.

Phase Three: What Tests Will Help Us Mitigate Those Risks?

Once risks have been identified, we shouldn’t let the possibility of those risks threaten and damage our system. So for the next phase, we used some of the remaining TestSphere cards (orange, pink and green cards) to map out and demonstrate how these risks will be mitigated.  We allocated the most suitable test techniques (the green cards), decided upon the heuristics (the pink cards), added any relevant patterns (the orange cards), and put them around the board next to the relevant risk. 

RiskStorming Board with colorful cards

Sell The Test Strategy

After the cards are all in place, the last step was to write up our test strategy into a one-page test plan template. We then held a discussion with all the present members at the workshop and each person attempted to sell their favorite test strategy in a limited time. 

Presenting the test strategy

In summary, the goal of this workshop was to answer one of the hardest questions you can ask a tester - ‘what is your current test strategy?’. This workshop was a very helpful and engaging way of answering this question.

RiskStorming With My Students: First And Second Try In My City

The coolest thing after attending the workshop in Belgrade is that I ran a RiskStorming session of my own immediately afterwards in my country with my students. My students were in their last year of studying engineering in the field of Computer Science at the National School of Engineering in Sfax.

Using the same phases as mentioned above, it was a nice opportunity for them to discuss the quality aspects of the system, possible risks and how to mitigate those risks. The students weren’t the only ones to benefit, I felt privileged to experience this exceptional workshop another time! 

I was surprised to find that I was the first person to run a RiskStorming workshop in Tunisia. I am very proud to have brought RIskStorming here and to get people talking about their experiences and how to use the cards to learn new things. 

RiskStorming first try

Two weeks later, I ran this workshop in another school in Sfax with Enetcom students, also in their last year, who specialized in either electronics or computer science engineering.

RiskStorming second try

During these two workshops, I used the presentation example available online created by Beren Van Daele, Marcel Gehlen, Andreas Faes and Ard Kramer.

For our system under test, we used:

“Instagram wants to integrate a ‘Buy-a-picture’ functionality to trade pictures from account to account with actual money. This transfers the copyright and the picture to the buyer and money to the seller.”

Feedback From The Two Workshops And Lessons Learnt 

Running those workshops spread a lot of fun and energy during the session between the participants. They learnt a lot of things about testing, possible risks that could threaten a system, possible patterns, testing techniques and heuristics that help us mitigate those risks. Even for me, it was really a nice opportunity to learn new testing things that I wasn’t aware of from those magic cards. This experience has given me more confidence in running workshops and motivated me to discover more about gamification in testing and how can we simulate testing using different games. I even started thinking about creating a game related to software testing. 

RiskStorming During  A Congress: Third Try

One month later, I was invited to speak at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Tunisian Students And Young Professionals (TSYP) Congress held in Hammamet Diar medina, where more than 500 engineering students from several Tunisian universities, as well as young professionals, were present. 

The purpose of this event is to help participants gain further insight, enabling the exchange of knowledge and skills. It’s also an opportunity to let them discover software testing by attending this workshop and spread testing ideas with students from different universities and young professionals. 

Before starting the workshop, I was pondering why I always perform the same demo application. I thought it would be better to change my presentation and challenge new risks.

As this event had a mobile application for all attendees, speakers and organizers, I thought we could see what risks can be derived from that mobile application! I was excited by my new approach as most of the attendees would have the application for the event already, so it was a fresh new way of engaging my audience.

Breaking The Ice

Unlike the first two sessions in my city, which had students from the same university who knew each other very well,  the people at the congress were from different universities and may not know each other. To break the ice, I added a step at the beginning where each person introduced themselves by selecting two of the purple feeling cards to represent their personality. I asked them to chose one good card - describing something they like about themselves and one card describing something they would like to develop.

Then, I divided the participants into three groups of eight. Each group brainstormed the limitations of the current system and what kind of modules they would add to the event mobile application.

I was blown away by their ideas and we finally narrowed down the top three main modules we would use. We then discussed and defined the risks of each one in order to create the test strategy, applying the approaches from the RiskStorming workshop.

The first group focused on adding a map and guidance for the conference venue and the second group wanted to add a forum between speakers and attendees to discuss more topics. Another suggestion from the second team was to stream the conference and record sessions so that all IEEE members could watch them even if they couldn’t attend the congress.

The third group suggested integrating the congress mobile application with the global website of the congress.

RiskStorming under execution during TSYP congress

From TestSphere To A Ministry Of Testing Meetup Organizer 

Ministry of Testing co-created TestSphere with Beren. From using TestSphere during RiskStorming, I discovered Ministry of Testing, their community of practice and their site.  I became an MoT member by creating an account and read some articles on The Dojo. I was amazed at the volume of useful content.

Then a strange thing happened when I started following hashtag #RiskStorming and #TestSphere on Twitter and LinkedIn, as those hashtags helped me discover what ‘MoT meetup’ means. (Side note: I also found a lot of posts and stories from people also using TestSphere from all over the world, like Brazil and loads of other places around the globe).

After investigating MoT Meetups further, I sent an email to asking them if I could be the MoT meetup organizer in my city. They warmly accepted my request! I was so happy as it was an amazing opportunity for me to bring the name of such a large and inspiring community to my country. All our events can be found on Ministry of Testing Sfax meetup

#MoTInTheWild Pic from our first meetup in Sfax

My First Meetup 

I organized the first meetup on 9 March 2019  and although it’s always nice to play RiskStorming, there was a chance that some people may have attended my previous RIskStorming workshops. So I researched for more ideas and discovered another game that can be linked to RiskStorming! It’s called  Scrum@ Play, created by Judicaël Paquet, which I also found on social media with the hashtag #gamification.

And so I had the ideas for my first meetup! A combination of RiskStorming & Scrum@Play: two workshops running parallel with two teams, one team is engaged in developing the application and the other team is engaged in preparing the test strategy. 

Ministry of Testing meetup, the first time in Africa

Future Goals

I’m so grateful to the MoT community as it has allowed me to rediscover testing more and more. Although I have only three years experience in testing, I have learnt, and I’m still learning, tons of new information about testing from the MoT website, from their Slack channel, their social media and all of the other platforms!

I can say that becoming a Ministry of Testing meetup organizer in my city makes me more curious not only in testing but also in building communities of practice. After watching Emily Webber’s talk about communities of practice, it has inspired me and given me the idea to combine testing and building communities together.

My work as a meetup organizer has given me the opportunity to share my experience with others. I gave a talk in Cambridge, Canada last September at the Targeting Quality Conference and it was my first talk in English abroad. I’m very glad that my dream has come true and I’m speaking at international conferences.

My future goals are to enlarge the local community that attend the MoT Sfax Meetup, bring international speakers to our events and make them similar to the hugely successful MoT Athens meetups.


  1. TestSphere - Ministry of Testing
  2. RiskStorming - Ministry of Testing
  3. TestSphere - Beren Van Daele
  4. RiskStorming - Beren Van Daele
  5. Scrum@Play – rules and cards - Judicaël Paquet
  6. RiskStorming: How to reinvent your test strategy - Beren Van Daele
  7. Communities of Practice, the Missing Piece of Your Agile Organisation - Emily Webber
  8. Community of Practice - Wikipedia

Author Bio 

Emna Ayadi is a passionate, enthusiastic software tester and detail-oriented person who loves root cause analysis, test, collaborate with diverse people and investigate issues. She has four years of experience working on international projects in different business domains. She appreciates delivering workshops about testing to her team and the local community to make them aware of new and different trends in software testing and she is a Ministry of Testing meetup organizer in Sfax, Tunisia.

Emna enjoys travelling, cooking, attending conferences and sharing her insights on LinkedIn. She can also be found on Twitter @emna__ayadi

You Might Also Be Interested In

Share this article: