Growing Testers

If – Ady Stokes 2017

‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling was written in 1895.  Here’s my version, if Rudyard were a tester. Please excuse the artistic licence! 

If – Ady Stokes 2017

If you can keep your head and explain the quality of the product that’s due, 
When all about you are losing theirs, and blaming it on you. 
If you can trust yourself when others are doubting you, 
But make allowance for their doubting too. 
If you are treated worse than you really should, 
Or there’s misunderstanding of what you said, 
And that the future doesn’t look too good, 
Or being told that your art is dead. 

If you can advocate your worth and believe in testing’s value, 
And think of every possible practical scenario that could transpire. 
If you can dream of all the things the customer might do, 
Then analyse the results to take your testing higher.   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
And treat those two impostors just the same.
If you can script, but not make scripts your master, 
And make discovery of truth your aim. 

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew,
To serve your turn long after they are gone.
And so hold on when there is nothing in you, 
Except the Will which says to the team: 'Hold on!'  
And explain simply your deductive and inductive reasoning, 
That was led by curiosity and guided by your intuition.  
If you can hear bias arguments but smile and keep on listening, 
Then use soft skills and diplomacy to keep everyone on mission. 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Management - not losing the common touch.
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all stakeholders count with you, but none too much.
If you can fill the unforgiving minute, (or 99 seconds)
With sixty seconds' worth of testing value. 
And find a great community who’s in it, 
To share their knowledge and is truly diverse too. 

If you can treat everyone equally,
No matter their difference to you. 
If you can treat their gender, origins and history, 
As valuable to offer a different view. 
If you can be an ally to all those who need, 
And defend their right to be just who they are. 
Support everybody’s rights to succeed, 
And mentor their journey so they may go far. 

If you can see scenarios that will make the testing great,
As well as the risks that others do not spot.
If you can see the value in which tests to automate,
And more, the value in which to not. 
If you can use tools to add value to your quest, 
But understand their value to aid and not replace. 
If you’re not afraid of change and always do your best, 
And can interrogate a database. 

If you can be the personas and advocate for all, 
And the voice of the customer in use and value too. 
And advocate and test for your product to be accessible to all. 
Explore to make discoveries because that’s what you do. 
If you accept that those discoveries, 
Will change what you thought you knew. 
Look for threats and system recoveries,
And help defend against those too. 

And then know all these things here, 
Are just a part of what you do. 
And be brave and show no fear, 
Accepting our learning will never be through. 
If your passion for testing means that you will never quit,
You will be here to the end. 
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a tester, my friend!

Introducing a 7th Thinking Hat

While I make absolutely no claims to be anywhere near the level of a genius like Edward De Bono I've found adding my own 'hat' to the Six Thinking Hats 

( to be useful in making the technique more relatable to modern applications. 

Introducing, the 'Hard Hat' 

De Bono’s 6 hats is something I return to regularly. Some time ago I added a 7th ‘hat’ that I feel brings an element of the modern digital/mobile world to it.

A purple, hard hat to represent where the work/workloads are. For example: How is memory and CPU usage affected? What puts the most work on the system and needs to be monitored? I believe that this assists me to think about things in a more digital/SCAMI technologies way when using this technique.

I did try researching if anyone else had added their own hats and there are some variations with a gold hat for customers and a grey hat for consequences/cycles but nothing I've found like my purple one that pulls the digital/mobile world into the technique.

I've always found the mind map below useful when applying six hats and have added the purple hat. I hope Paul doesn't mind! I also hope someone else might find this useful. If you do please let me know. Thanks.

Things I learned at the North West Exploratory Workshop on Testing

Over the weekend of March 18/19 I attended NWEWT2 at the former Atlantic Tower Hotel, now Mercure in Liverpool.  Following on from its inaugural outing last year this deep dive conference focused on the theme of ‘Growing Testers’ with its two primary questions;

  • As a Tester, how do you grow to keep up with the current trends in testing and development?
  • As someone responsible for leading Testers, how do you help Testers grow?

Each attendee gave a talk on their thoughts, experience, models and ideas for growing Testers.  The audience was varied from those who regularly present at conferences to those with only a few years experience in software testing.  Following each talk it was ‘open season.’  The facilitator would note who had questions using a card system I hadn’t encountered before.  Green was a question following a talk, yellow was a follow up question during a ‘green’ thread and red if you had to say something immediately.  Fortunately there was only 1 of those and despite being taxing on our hard working facilitator it worked really well in not only ensuring conversations flowed with no interruptions, but also making sure everyone’s points were heard.  It also encouraged us to go deep into subjects and challenge each others ideas, cordially of course. 

My presentation focused on the creation and on-going development of Test Xchange, our internal testing community over the last year or so.  I offered our emergent model of a risk based participant built backlog and regular agenda items of lightning talks, discussions and testing challenges.  Given I heard about this opportunity at fairly short notice I must confess to a bit of a ‘cheat’ here as most of the material came from a scheduled talk I am giving at Test Atelier in Leeds on the 9th of May.  So that was lucky!  (See related blog for more)

My main goals, besides sharing the great work our testing community has done in knowledge sharing, was to gain an understanding of how others were approaching tester development and bring back ideas we could use.  With coffee helping abate yawns from my 6am start driving from Yorkshire to Liverpool ready for a 9am start, we began.  So, what were the things I learnt over the two days? 

How does your garden grow?
There are so many ways to grow, gain knowledge and share information about testing.  The Testing Community is wide and diverse and there are many conferences, events and meet ups happening all round the country.  Online resources such as the Ministry of Testing are hubs of information not to mention the many talented individuals writing blogs.  Online magazines pass on knowledge and ideas while there are many excellent books on the subject.  YouTube is also a brilliant resource to watch the most ‘famous’ industry thought leaders share their views.  No matter your learning style there’s something for you out there.  All you have to do is find the time! 

I’m forever growing bubbles!
The Testing Community wants to help educators to pass on testing skills.  We all live in bubbles.  Family bubbles, social bubbles, community bubbles etc.  At the moment there’s an education bubble around software development that doesn’t have much room for the Testing Profession.  Course literature and Computer Science curriculums have little reference to testing as a discipline.  There were some passionate opinions expressed on reaching out to schools and Universities and offering the Testing Communities services to pass on knowledge of the ‘real world’ and testing skills, philosophies and passions.  The four-hour tester ( is a project that focused on simple exercises to teach some of the skills and thought processes needed by testers.  I particularly like the Mary had a little lamb heuristic.  Give it a try.  The weekend testing community ( recently undertook a similar activity to create a testing syllabus.  Also well worth a read.  The question is now, am I brave enough to stand up in front of impressionable younglings and promote our profession?  I’ll get back to you on that one… What is for sure is that more efforts are needed to get out of our bubbles and into others.

How did I get here?
Very few people plan to be a tester.  Going round the table and aptly demonstrated by ‘Bullseye or The Testing Wheel’ (presentation available on by Ash Winter), career models are perceived as linear but very rarely are.  Despite our best plans be it through assignments, job change or sideways movement, most people swirl around quite a bit on their journey.  My own path to here has included roles such as logistics manager, auditor, director, business intelligence manager and test team lead to name a few.  While I had some version of testing in other roles it was by being asked to perform testing on a software system that peaked my interest. Then when I found out such an interesting and fun activity was a real full time job I was hooked.  What I didn’t realise is that there are so many similar stories of people moving in many varied directions on their road to becoming testers.  Maybe, like the saying about love, you don’t find testing, it finds you?

Mums have the best sayings!
You can’t stick your apples on other people’s trees!  Jit Gosai (test engineer at the BBC) talked to us about how he saw Mark Zuckerberg had floated Facebook and made billions at 27.  He was 27.  Did that make him a failure?  Of course not, but he vowed to do more, learn more and share what he found with others.  Later he was frustrated his sharing wasn’t landing how he’d like.  His mum told him about apples.  You can influence, you can give knowledge, you can lead, but you can’t make your ideas be someone else’s.  That doesn’t mean you should stop trying to share with those around you. No matter how annoying they are! 

So that’s some, but far from the only things learnt over an extremely enjoyable conference.  I’ve a decent sized list of people, models and sites I want to look into.  Another decent list of ideas for discussions, challenges and things we can do at Test Xchange.  Even some blog ideas.  And maybe, if I’m brave enough and survive Test Atelier, some more talks too.