When I started to test, I wasn't aware that I entered a fantastic field that demands me to look at other professions to do a good job as a tester. A little later I realized that people in a specific profession have lots to learn from other professions to perform better at what they are doing.
Everyone, in my opinion does that but the question is: How many do it consciously?
Don't worry, you aren't left behind and here is your opportunity to unlock what you could learn from other professions. Here is an example of how Michael Bolton and Ben Simo talked about "How doctors think and the learning of a tester from that thought process" . During Michael's previous visit to India, we did talk about how his experience of cooking and theater that helped him in his testing and I was very glad to hear those stories.
I intend to pull out my notes of how people in different professions think that can help testers in their testing activity:
I had mentioned this earlier and I would like to re-iterate. Doctors ask a lot of questions as a part of treating you. When a patient says "I am having a back pain", I have observed doctors asking questions about the hand and legs and they carefully observe emotions of the patient when they try to press the back, different places in leg and hands.
Software and human body are very complex systems. The "back pain" might be a symptom of a bigger problem and hence doctors ask questions about other parts of the body. So, as a tester if I encounter a bug, I get to think that this bug might be a symptom of another big bug that is hiding and ask questions that help me figure out the big bug.
When a patient says, "stomach ache", I have observed doctors prescribe blood tests and various other tests to take an informed decision. The management needs as good information as possible to take better informed decisions and testers need to supply the information. By prescribing blood and other tests, the doctors are looking for coverage and so, we testers need to look for coverage than to find xxxxxx number of functionality bugs (unless that is the mission).
When a patient is in a critical state and needs to be operated, there are diversified set of doctors who are in the operation theater. For instance, an Anesthesia Specialist, General Surgeon, Neuro Surgeon, Heart Specialist... and NOT all General Surgeons or all Neuro Surgeons do the job. That is a fantastic example of diversity and value addition to the operation's success. A testing team needs to be diversified. Not all testers who know to run tools like QTP, WR, LR ( toolsmith's I mean ) can add value to the project and successfully achieve the mission. Look at my FAQ's for more information on diversity of testing teams and its benefits.
The Indian cobbler ( I don't know of any other country cobblers)
An expensive shoe that we purchase might have been manufactured by a top company with state of the art machines but when it is torn or needs a fix for the sole, we do not go the manufacturing unit but to a cobbler nearby.
The Indian cobbler is a pretty simple guy. He uses the tools that are not state of the art but yet does a fantastic job whenever I or my friends have gone to him to get a problem fixed. He doesn't intend to use a tool because other cobblers think it is state of the art because it doesn't suit his context. Many companies buy tools from vendors who market it as state of the art, and later discover that it isn't suiting their context well but force the testers to use the tool to see some value of the money spent on it and lose the value that could have actually been delivered (if the tools were not put to use).
There are some cobblers who move on road and they dont carry tools that are hard to carry or need electricity to operate and yet complete the mission assigned to them. They do a manual activity and harness the potential in the tools that they carry to maximum extent. No testing is completely manual and no testing is completely automated. Those who think they are testing something completely manual are as much wrong as those who think their testing is completely automated. Those testers who know to carry the tools that suit their context are smarter and will add great value as compared to those testers who carry tools with them because someone said "That's the future".
Police ( What movies has shown me)
Catching criminals is as interesting and challenging as catching bugs. Police look for clues during investigation of a crime, to nab or zero down on criminals. They do not just look at obvious places but non obvious places, too. For instance an investigator looks at a dustbin while investigating a murder, finds a cigar in the dustbin and draws inferences about the criminal. Testers usually do not look at clues that surround a crash or hang and miss the actual criminal that many a times is caught by the end user. Log files is one such clue that has helped me nab several other criminals.
Police personnel ask the same question in multiple ways to the same person at different situations and look for consistency with the answer. Anything inconsistent helps them to get fishy and are one step closer to catching the criminal. If a test passes that doesn't mean it really is a "pass". The same test might fail when executed in a different time frame, different input, different tester executing it, different PC, different network, different hardware... If you observe carefully policemen are using consistency oracles to find the culprit.
I am thrilled that I am looking and learning from many other professions, too and I am glad that I am a software tester who is gifted to see the beauty of testing. I must thank God for his blessings. Not all testers are gifted but they can become one such when they start learning from all possible situations, people, things, objects, happening...
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When you set your mission to become a wonderful tester, the nature will take care of your learning and all you need to do it to keep all your senses wide open. Mother Nature is the best teacher and you wont realize that by reading this sentence unless you experience it.
James Bach, today's leading test expert and testing legend, whose work has affected the entire testing community, is a strong example of someone who forced Mother Nature to teach him by becoming a self drop out of school during 8th grade ( or Standard ). His relationship and thought process is a gift that Mother Nature bestowed on me when I cried to Mother Nature seeking help for learning to test better.
So, set your mission and cry aloud, SHE will help you. SHE would test your passion under turbulent situations but once you pass HER test, you will get more tests and will start learning and enjoying the experience.
Reminder: Registration for the 500 rupees half day testing mania, is still open, so book your seats to experience such wonderful stuff. For details look at the left hand links section of this blog or simply link click maadi.