Testers are Knowledge Workers

Treat your testing people as knowledge workers, not rote industrial resources. The later is a spiral to the lowest value, the former is about giving the business valuable knowledge. A modern tester is a knowledge worker – whose prime area is finding information, filtering information, relating information and presenting information. It is a non-linear process, that requires a touch of both creativity and consideration.

The best testing tool is the brain, and the knowledge worker ponder the problems both consciously and unconsciously. She can work without using the hands or legs, but not with a simple headache. It takes a lot of thinking and collaboration with the stakeholders to identify what questions about the product has value to the business. The (context-driven) knowledge focused tester focus both that it works, and that it adds value to the business.

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The business focus are far from the classic mindset of testing established around the millennial (2000). where testing is about finding defects and going through the motion of deriving test cases from specifications. – I know I’ve been there. That era is long gone, even dead at some time to Whitaker and Alberto Savoia. Be provoked or even insulted, but it’s the future.

But wake up – it’s not where the testing world is today. The old tools of design techniques and coverage metrics makes less and less sense to the business. They are old-school and classic approaches, in the not so cool way. The cool kids on the block are poppin’ tags – getting new stuff, sharing and exploring. They know that change is the new normal and that what works in one situation doesn’t work in another. Their primary concern and focus is getting knowledge to the decision makers. They are the knowledge workers

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Diversity is important for testing, prejudice isn’t

I want the field of testing to have high diversity

  • Different personality types:
    • we need people to get ideas, and people to finish them
    • We need people to see the strategic view, and people to get into the details
  • Different backgrounds
    • We need people that can code
    • We need people that understand the business domain
  • Different business domains
    • We need testers in the field of software development
    • We need testers in the field of IT / ITIL service delivery
    • We need device testers, embedded software testers….
    • We need testers that understand the GxP regulations
    • We need testers that understand rapid and agile delivery
  • Different people
    • Parents, singles, women, men, people with kids and without
    • Young people, experienced people
    • People who take it as a lifestyle, and people to whom it’s just a job

…most of all people. People who knows that things can be done in many ways. Let’s get rid of the prejudices that testing is for the detailed and i-dotting only. Testing is about bringing information to the stakeholders about what works and what doesn’t – it’s never about “failure is not an option”.

Recently I was required to do a Cubiks Problem solving test. It’s a 12 minute online test in word patterns, calculations and geometric patterns. Apparently I “failed” to complete all in time, but had a high degree of right answers, so my score was “average” #whatever. That apparently made me perfect to the testing area… OH NO – it only tells you that I put pride in my own work. Everything else is pure speculation and prejudice, as mentioned by Gerry Weinberg in Psychology of Intelligent Problem Solving there is a challenge with these kinds of tests for problem solving – they test, but not for problem solving.

Testing is about solving problems – business problems. Like can we ship?

See also:

Lego Role Models for Girls

Who had the family’s largest LEGO set his Christmas – not the boys (age 8-10), neither the “boys” (age 40 and up) – it wasn’t me* – but the 11-year-old girl and her 8 wheel 42008 Service Truck – 1276 pieces, power functions, pneumatic, gears and 44 cm forcefulness. There was no boy band merchandize, no glitter or similar gender framing. Quite a project – as is the story about the “Research Institute” mini-figure set.

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Get moving

After Linda Risings talk on “Problem-solving and Decision-making in Software Development” I had the opportunity to talk to her on her key messages of today’s GOTO training.

MOVE – Humans are not meant to sit still, we need to get up, walk, run, stand. Some companies have thread mill desks! Pilgrim walks are the talk of the town – and instead of having a 1-1 meeting – try walking. A walk after a family dinner is good for both health and social chit-chat. The same is true at work – talk a walk, MOVE!

“Get moving or someone else will move you – especially at work”, was  another topic we discussed. If your job is not making you happy, if the agile and innovative practices are being cut. BE BRAVE and boost your competencies. In these days you can either go with the downwind of companies cutting the wrong costs or go with the upwind of places that walk-the-talk.

See also: If In Doubt – Learn!Eating wicked problems for breakfastInnovation is about the unknown – deal with itSoftwaretesting is only dead, if it stands still

[Disclaimer: I had press access to GOTO-Arhus2012 on behalf on GOTOCON]

More women in testing

I see more women in software testing than among developers in general. Too bad that the ratio among developers is low – but good for software testing :-). It is proof to me that Software testing is a skill of many skills and that people from different backgrounds come together to make the testing groups diverse. Some (women) come with strong domain expertise and user experiences others with people skills – and others with tech skills on par with the best. How to get more women in software testing and tech – Miss more in the pink aisle perhaps.

So I probably need both a question mark and exclamation point in the title…

Why I want there to be more women in the software industry|  May 17th, 2012 | Duana Saskia Stanley ]

It’s all about different cultures. Men and women don’t just have different physical characteristics, we have significantly different cultures which have developed over a long time and change slowly.

We have significantly different hair and clothing styles.  They say we have different ways of communicating. And as groups we almost certainly have different assumptions about the world.

The Build-A-Tester Workshop |  MARCH 13, 2012 | jlottosen ]

you might find initial engagement and strengths in a team of like-minded people – the team with the right mix of types for the context has the best options and is likely to be more successful. Said in other words a team consisting of only one ”type” would be good at only a few things and not so good in the rest.

See also What is is – is beautiful and Being Different is key