Test Like Sherlock

Sometimes testing is like being Sherlock Holmes – You find your clues hidden in plain sight: Where the users scratch their nails; how the application user interface is cobbled together; odd patterns in the error logs….

But seldom without experimenting, seldom without pushing the subject under test or consulting the weather report, time tables – and getting out in the rain, doing some footwork.

They always seems to know better, always asking questions. They are so passionate about the problem solving skills that their standard by default seems arrogant [1]    (but that is usually not on purpose).

This is very clear in the recent BBC TV Series “Sherlock” – that illustrates and mentions their Asperger clearly. Almost on par with the The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Still when they are out solving mysteries they are a hero – if there ever was one. [2]

1: If your standard is to never be called arrogant, you’ve probably walked away from your calling. http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2014/12/in-search-of-arrogance.html

2: Don’t make people into heroes, John. Heroes don’t exist, and if they did, I wouldn’t be one of them. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Sherlock_(TV_series)


Related: The yardstick of mythical normalityPeople are people – despite their labels,

The problem with processes

I have designed corporate telco testing processes, I have taylored CMMI5 certified processes, I have studied at practiced context driven testing. Yet – the more I learn, the more it seems:

You can follow some of the processes all of the time,

and all of the processes some of the time

– but you cannot follow all the processes all of the time.

the processes are more what you’d call “guidelines” 

You call that testing – how can that add value

It’s important that all testing people start considering how they add value for their salary. If they don’t their job is on the line in the next offshoring or staff redux. If you are not adding value* to the customers, company and yourself – in that order – every day. What are you doing there anyways? (*: oddly enough, sometimes just listening in on a meeting can add direct value.)

You Call That Testing? Really? What is the value in THAT? | THURSDAY, JUNE 14, 2012|  ]

Part of the problem is many (most) businesses look at testing and testers as expenses.  Plain and simple.  It does not seem to matter if the testers are exercising software to be used internally or commercial software to be used by paying customers.  We are an expense in their minds.

If we do stuff they do not see as “needed” then testing “takes too long” and “costs too much.”  What is the cost of testing?  What is the cost of NOT testing?

I don’t know.  I need to think on that.  One of the companies I worked for, once upon a time, it was bankruptcy.  Other were less dramatic, but avoiding the national nightly news was adequate incentive for one organization I worked for.

One of the participants in the meeting compared testing to some form of insurance – you buy it, don’t like paying the bill, but when something happens you are usually glad you did.  Of course, if nothing bad happens, then people wonder why they “spent so much” on something they “did not need.”

I don’t have an answer to that one.  I need to think on that, too. 

See also Testing can add business value to any project stateCutting costs will not get you value,