I've started several posts, six to be exact, one being a follow-up to my first episode of Building A Tester series, but I cannot complete any of them. My Achilles' Heel.
So I started a new one! :D
It's about an epiphany of what Jon Bach tweeted about the deeper meaning of Pass/Fail testing and how it's tied to one of the three phrases a Sogeti consultant should always remember. It's about promises, wishes and fulfillment their of. It's about managing expectations.
Now, let's start about what Jon Bach (brother of James Bach) tweeted:
"Passing a test" means "meeting expectations", but we don't often take time to examine those expectations in the first place.This is dead-on and quite nicely points out the risk that lies within Pass/Fail Testing; Expectations are set, or as one of the replies to that tweet pointed out, managed poorly. And as requirements documentation is never a synonym for actual requirements and explicit/implicit expectations set to a software or system, and as they tend to change and reshape constantly, ground starts to fall from under Pass/Fail Testing...
Someone (Was it Michael Bolton?) once said something about judging a tree just by looking at the color of it's leaves. Ok, it can tell you something, but don't base you judgment on just that as there's so much more.
Book is more than it's covers.
Now, to those three phrases that guide our work as Sogeti consultants:
- Manage expectations
- Always one day ahead
- You are never alone
Those are actually not that bad if you come to think of them. The last two shortly about staying at forefront of testing, beating your competition, bringing value to customer, getting support from vast Sogeti network (20000+ people), etc. All very good. But what fascinates me the most is the "Manage expectations" part.
When you manage expectation as a consultant, the first thing that leaps into mind are the expectations aimed towards you and of course the means to manage them. The customer has certain wishes that you need to fulfill. They are not experts in the field of testing so at this point you have to sell them understanding and certain promises about what you deliver. Some consultants and even whole consulting companies quite blatantly exploit this possibility and voilá; You've bought a health care system for 1,8 billion euros (article in Finnish, sorry)! :D
So, let's put this personal adjustment to project level. There are several ways (CMMI, Six Sigma, etc.) to measure how well the project is going, but all of them rely heavily on people's ability to utilize them. Quite often the results aren't that good, and quite often because everything's just too big and complex; Softwares, systems and processes are often built like Saint Isaac's Cathedral. People are aiming to do something extraordinary without ever measuring their capability to achieve that. The whole thing swells beyond control and no matter how good the methodology or how good the people are, failure is inevitable.
You eat what you take.
Brass tacks; Do something you KNOW you're able to do well (looked from every reasonable angle and dimension) and build from there. You can have grand visions about excellence, but have also very clear vision about the steps that take you there. Some of them will take you backwards, which is only good. Fail and learn. Fail again and learn again. Adjust! If the only thing you're able to do is walk, do it well. When you're absolutely sure about your ability to walk, start running. Do it well. Fall. Do it well. Walk. Do it well. Run. Do it well. And if you're responsible for someone else's expectations, make sure the easier ones are fulfilled before moving into more difficult ones.
Even Pass/Fail testing, which is still good for some occasions, has now a better propability of succeeding. For instance agile methodologies revolve around constant adjustments and building manageable increments in short iterations. You eat what you take and you take some more if that wasn't enough. That's all there is to it.
I actually felt a bit ashamed when writing this, because I have an assumption you already know all this, dear reader. It is indeed as elementary as it gets. I just had to get it out from my system. But if it made you think and alter you behaviour to better, I'm truly happy.
Quote time! This is actually one of my favourite quotes as it culminates our key strength as human beings and of course, professional testers:
"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." -Charles DarwinYours truly,
Sami "Yey! I completed a blog post!" Söderblom