April #MidsTest: “The Risk Questionnaire”

April was a double first for #MidsTest. Our new co-sponsor Xpertise Recruitment were sponsoring their first ever Midlands Testers meetup and despite having known Adam for a few years and having met up with him at various meetups and testing conferences, it was his first time at our meetup.

What started with a rather slow take up turned out to be a rather well-attended event with most attendees gathering punctually in the bar area! Ramada Solihull yet again pleased us by hosting us in a quiet, big function room with our sponsor Richard Bailey already setting up the Xpertise banner stand (you can’t miss it in the pics below!)

With attendees suitably refreshed, food ordered and the meetup agenda conveyed, it was time for Adam to take over.

Adam started his talk with narrating events that piqued his interest in human behaviour in times of facing risks – more importantly when facing changes in their risk situation.

As examples of this, Adam quoted instances where changes in risk situation were compensated by human behaviour such that established same, if not more, level of risk for respective situations as had been before the change had happened – thus, achieving a sort of equilibrium; a demonstration “risk homeostatis” theory.

Risk Homeostasis is a theory that individuals will alter their behaviour in response to changes in risk variables to maintain a constant perceived level of risk in any situation

By way of examples, Adam explained how predisposed human behaviour is in considering a situation risky by way of using the availability heuristic – where we recollect similar instances, examples or by relating to stories conveyed to us; how risk assessment is still very much a ‘system one’ or ‘gut’ reaction than a more methodical, logical ‘system two’ way of thinking – many times simply due to the lack of availability heuristic for individual manager to depend upon. This is something that is extremely relevant in software development where decision makers without insights into the software development processes may end up underestimating risk in such areas as compared to the ones they may be much more aware of.

Adam then proceeded to narrate the challenges he was faced with a client when he started a new role where he was responsible for driving / prescribing their test approach; how he noticed that there was no consensus over what acceptable level of risks were for that organisation.

Drawing from his personal experience of being at an independent financial advisor, Adam demonstrated a sample of a typical questionnaire advisors use when profiling their potential customers’ risk appetite. Inspired by this, Adam narrated how he developed his own questionnaire, across different areas, to assess the  risk appetite of the organization. These were then sent across to the members of the management team and the results collated to depict the variance in the perception of risk the organization as a whole had.

The responses presented in an easy to understand, graphical format  were wide ranging in some cases, surprisingly focused in others – giving Adam an incredible insight into – not only what the risk appetite of the company was, but also where there was a lack of consensus was in terms of testing issues and how that helped him embed a living test strategy into the organization.


With the talk complete, the attendees had the opportunity to firstly digest the talk and then pose questions – which there were plenty!

The questions continued until the food arrived. With the interest in the topic and questions still unanswered for many, our host suggested continuing the discussions over food – and the discussions were plenty!

Overall, we thought the night was a success with both – the attendees as well as our guest giving it their stamp of approval.

Adam has written a blog post to go with the talk which can be found here.

Here’s a selection of pictures from the evening…



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