Sunday, 15 November 2009

It's a beautiful thing

My copy of Beautiful Testing arrived at last.

Managing to read a couple of chapters a day on the commute to work and it's proving to be a good read

Worth buying just for the opening chapter, Linda Wilkinson on "Was It Good For You ?" which was a great reminder to me about why I moved into the testing industry and why I like being a tester

The chapter should be recommended reading for all test and project managers...

Hope the rest of the book follows this high standard, stay tuned for more chapter reviews

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Testing Is Overrated

Current reading is "Talent is Overrated" ( hence the provocative blog title, wonder if I get more hits when I have a negative headline... ) which is about the "nature v nurture" debate.

Is there a 'tester DNA' that people have or is there something more to those testers that seem to have the magic touch and break an app merely by their presence ?

I was thinking about this as a program was delivered to test and within a couple of days I'd broken it so badly that no-one was able to use it's main functionality.No-one else testing the app had found that particular defect. Luck ? maybe - but I do it consistently so there must be more to it than that

The "Talent Is Overrated" book explains how people who are considered gifted have actually been practising hard for years. Tiger Woods is the usual example trotted out - coached from a very early age by his father, Earl. Malcolm Gladwell explored the same area in his book Outliers: The Story of Success

So with 20 years of writing and fixing bugs as a programmer followed by a few years of deliberately trying to find the bugs then is really a surprise that I can find defects more easily than the average tester ?

The book also explains the concept of "deliberate practice" and by coincidence I found a recent blog where Mary Poppendieck had been explaining the concept.
Mary has the following four key components that are required for a person to be using deliberate practice:

  • Mentor - a high skills expert to review, critique, and highlight flaws

  • Challenge - tasks that require greater skill than we currently possess

  • Feedback - review and analysis of results used to improve future attempts

  • Dedication - hard work, time and energy applied diligently

Geoff Colvin, the author of Talent Is Overrated, has the following components

  • It's designed specifically to improve performance - Tiger Woods would drop balls into a sand trap and then step on them and then practice hitting shots to get them out

  • It can be repeated a lot

  • Feedback on results is continuously available

  • It's highly demanding mentally

  • It isn't much fun

Interesting to look at those components and see how many could be used to deliberately practice testing. Any of these in your practices ?