There's Always a Duck
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There's Always a Duck

A collection of essays about people, culture, and teams

About the Book

**UPDATE as of October 2, 2022**

You choose how much to pay for the book. The minimum price used to be $7.99, but I have just set the minimum price to $0. That's right, you can have the book for free. Leanpub requires you to have a membership, but my understanding is that you have access to the book for free if you sign up for a free membership.

Why is the book free? I recently took my blog down, so this is the only remaining authorized source for many of the essays I kept on my blog. I'm incredibly grateful whenever someone chooses to pay more than the minimum for my work. So if you feel that the book is worth your hard-earned money, I really appreciate it if you pay. But I didn't want money to be a barrier for folks accessing the essays I used to host on my website for free. (And eventually I'll get around to updating this book with newer blog content that I wrote after I released the book and that fits the theme.)

It's worth noting that Leanpub allows you to choose your price, but if you're going to pay anything they require a minimum purchase of $7.99. This isn't my policy; it's theirs. I assume it's because as soon as money is involved in a transaction, they have transaction fees that they have to cover. A minimum price would ensure they don't lose money on sales. I fully support Leanpub in their decision to set a minimum price above $0. I've been a super happy Leanpub author. They provide a fantastic service at an incredibly reasonable price.


This book is a collection of my favorite and most popular essays selected from my blog ( and other places I've published. Within these pages, you'll find stories about cultures, people, and teams. You'll discover how something as simple as coffee can demonstrate how "normal" is inherently context-dependent. You'll read about unfortunate failures to communicate and what ducks can teach us about translation. You'll meet people who I admire and who have inspired me. You'll read the story of the software sales guy who admitted that he wouldn't use his software either. In all, the book contains 31 essays in 179 pages spanning 15 years of writing. I've edited all the essays and added new bits to stitch the whole thing together. Even if you've been a long time reader of my blog you will find something new.

About the Author

Elisabeth Hendrickson
Elisabeth Hendrickson

Elisabeth Hendrickson (@testobsessed) is an Agile consultant, trainer and coach. Her roots in software extend back 3 decades to the day she wrote her first line of code on a TRS-80 Model III, back in 1980. Over the years, she has held positions as a Tester, Programmer, Test Automation Manager, Quality Engineering Director, and Technical Writer working for companies ranging from a 20-person startups to multi-national software vendors. She is a respected thought leader in Agile Testing, served on the board of the Agile Alliance, won the Gordon Pask Award in 2010, and is a co-organizer of the Agile Alliance Functional Testing Tools program. She is known for her Google Tech Talk on Agile Testing and Test Heuristics Cheatsheet.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. Something Familiar
    1. Always a Duck
    2. More Similar Than Different
    3. We're All Human
    4. A Duck by Any Other Name
  3. Translations and Failures in Communication
    1. Lost in Translation
    2. What They Forgot to Say
    3. What's in a Name? Everything.
    4. Becky and Matthew
  4. A Nice Cup of Coffee
    1. Normal is in the Eye of the Beholder
    2. ``Normal'' in Context
    3. Brewing Trouble
  5. Software in the Wild
    1. But Do You Know if It's Any Good
    2. The Problem with 63,000 Bugs
    3. Inside Information
    4. Minimally Viable
  6. Play Time
    1. Thinking Games
    2. Trucks in the Sandbox
    3. Adventures in Virtual Testing, a Fable
    4. Little Green Men
  7. Observations
    1. Noticing the Little Things
    2. Looking for What's Not There
    3. The Problem Isn't Always THE Problem
    4. Schrödinger's Cat
  8. Navigating
    1. Going Down with the Ship
    2. Ensuring Project Success: 10 Rules of the Road
    3. You Can't Test the Wings Back on an Airplane
    4. Don't Confuse Speed with Progress
    5. Fear is a Lousy Compass
  9. Community
    1. How Tim Lister Changed My Life
    2. Agile Up to Here
    3. The Gordon Pask Award
  10. Parting Thoughts

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