Monday, January 28, 2013

On Making a Difference or Changing the World

It is interesting to me how many people, pundits, whatever, mutter about whatever legislative system the citizens of the country they live in has to deal with.  It does not seem to make much difference where you live, the legislature - Parliament, Provincial, Federal, whatever - House of Representatives, US or individual State Houses or Assemblies - Senate, US or State - every legislature seems corrupt or broken or failing by some measure. 

Every few years a new crop of bright-eyed idealists run promising Reform - throw the bums out - make a change - represent... whatever.  And they start out great guns - NO one will influence them.  No "special interest" group will get their vote.  No one will corrupt them.

Except that is not how a lot of legislation works - particularly in the US.

People make compromises.  I'll support your proposal if you support mine.  This can benefit both of our districts.  And so it begins.  Soon, they are being challenged by some bright--eyed newcomer talking about how corrupt they are.  But they are not the corrupt ones!  They fought the system and... challenged the status quo and... found out that the real world does not always work the way people want to believe it does.

In order to change the system, you must be willing to fly in the face of opposition.  You must be willing to be called an unending string of names.  Face accusations, and accusers, and know you are doing the right thing.

Why then, if this is what it takes to change the way legislatures work, do we not think that something similar must happen to change the way that so many organizations view testing?

We cringe at phrases like "QA this" or "as soon as this is QA'd."  Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

We might object once or twice - possibly more.  Eventually, how many people simply give up that fight?

Then we get heavily documented test processes - the ones where we match test scenarios to requirements from the requirements document and we record in the exception document why we need more than one test scenario to test this requirement.  Then we make sure that all the steps and all the expected results for each step in each scenario align with the documented requirements.

Then we find that we are going to do more of the same.  Forever.  We spend more time documenting stuff than we actually do testing.  Then Managers and VPs and Directors scream about the cost of testing and how could we have missed the defects the customer is complaining about.

My dear testers... and QA representatives and analysts and specialists - if this describes your work world, you have no moral right to complain about legislators "selling out."  You have as well.  You are in the same club.

When was the last time you were proud of the work you did?

What value are you adding? 

Consider this... 


  1. You're a Jr Test Consultant trying to learn your trade.
    You have a daughter to look after, travel expenses, rent to pay
    You're assigned to a gov project run by one of the big boys that used to sponsor The Tiger and things are done Their Way.
    Your working with their testers who are churning out the factory scripts overseen by managers who are expecting exactly that.
    You know it sucks, you know it's a massive waste, you go home feeling your soul has been sucked dry.

    What's your advice ?

  2. Every once in a while ,one needs to read such articles. Thanks Pete. Though I would like to believe a lot is changing in the Testing world with respect to unnecessary documentation.

  3. Good on ya, Phil - Excellent Question! It is one I am working on addressing in a future post. In short, "Uphold the Right."

    You know it can be better. You know it should be better. You also know that frontal assaults tend to result in folks dressed in archaic outfits at fancy dinners many years later solemnly drinking a toast to "our honoured (or glorious) comrades."

    Nice enough, unless you were part of the frontal assault.

    Gently biding time may be one option. Subtly planting seeds may be another. I'll talk more on this in a future post. OK?

  4. Smita - I think you may be right. Much is changing. Still, I find there is a great deal more to do, and far too many people still advocating heavy handed management models for every situation.

    Thanks for the comment.

  5. I will come back here again and again to take inspirations for my further fights. Many thanks for writing this,Pete.

    I still remember story of your struggle that you had once shared in some mailing list (I guess software-testing?) and I can very well imagine how hard you have worked to change things around you.

    - Lalitkumar Bhamare
    'Tea-time with Testers'

    1. Thank you for you kind words. It is likely that it was on the Software Testing list. One thing I have learned is that we can learn from each other if we are open to ideas, no matter where in the world we are. We can all help each other be better, and change the world a little at a time.