TestCon Europe 2019

Andrew Brown

Expleo, UK


The exact venue of each workshop will be announced on 8 October.

Workshops will be held at 2 different venues: Crowne Plaza VIlnius (M. K. Čiurlionio str. 84, Vilnius, Lithuania) or Panorama Hotel (Sodu str. 14, Vilnius).  


Time & Date

10:00, 15 October




Dr Andrew Brown is a principal consultant at SQS. He leads an independent line of research into understanding why we humans make the mistakes that lead to software defects.

He has 25 years’ experience in the software industry. Previous roles include Head of QA at HMV, Head of QA at a financial software house and a test manager in Japan.

He holds a degree in Physics and Maths, an MBA from Warwick Business School and a doctorate from Imperial College.


Improve Decision Making through Understanding your Subconscious


Decision-making and prioritisation are essential to software development, as teams seek to deliver the greatest benefit in a safe and reliable manner. This presumes we can reliably make good decisions. But can we?

In this session, we use a series of practical examples and experiments to demonstrate that we make decisions using a heuristic known as the affect heuristic. We learn that this heuristic works using emotion, in a manner that is completely different from both the way that we believe we make decisions and from the way that our decision-making tools and models work. We discover that whilst this heuristic is effective in many situations, it can lead to sub-optimal outcomes when we evaluate the complex alternatives that represent most real-life decisions.

We also explore how we can improve our decision-making, not by constructing spreadsheets and other decision aids, but by increasing our understanding how emotion influences decisions, then introducing it as a controlled process.


  • Part 1: Role of evolution in decision making (1 hour):
    • Why do I think this way? – The role of evolution
    • Why it pays to make a mistake – Error Management Theory
    • Why it is important to understand how your mind works
  • Part 2: The Affect Heuristic (45 minutes)
    • Should I gamble or play it safe?
    • The role of emotion in a decision, plus the disastrous consequences of its absence
  • Part 3: Hands-on session – How to improve decisions by reducing vulnerability to the Affect Heuristic (90 mins):
    • Bringing in emotion to balance a decision
    • Enhancing the evaluability of a decision dimension
    • Icarus contracts
    • Simultaneous vs sequential decisions
    • Reducing attribute substitute substitution
  • Part 4: Why do overdue project take crazy risks? How and why our risk appetite switches (45 minutes)
    • Prospect Theory – an overview
    • Risk appetite switching in response to gains/losses
    • Why do we behave like this? – Optimal Foraging Theory
  • Part 5: Other biases and factors affecting decisions (1 hour)
    • Optimism bias
    • Overconfidence effect
    • You may not even notice it – Signal detection theory and the smoke detector problem
  • Part 6: Further hands-on exercises (1 hour, or remainder of time)


The main goal of this workshop is to introduce participants to the mental processes (heuristics) that we use whilst making decisions, the biases and shortcomings that these processes cause, and the mitigation techniques that we can use to reduce our vulnerability to these shortcomings.

Target Audience

The target audience includes those interested in understanding and improving their decision-making skills.

Technical Requirements

Although it is not essential, participants will find it helpful if they download onto their smartphone or iPhones the IOWA GAMBLING TASK APP