My next public workshop on testing skills is this weekend ( 28th July 2007 ) and I am getting excited. Many testers who got in touch with me over the past are saying, "I will surely attend the next one" and they said this last time, too. I have been asking a question to myself, "Who would attend this workshop then?"
That's funny and I enjoy asking such questions to myself. In case, you are not the one who says, "next workshop", here are the details!
_ marketing ends _
Some testers have liked my blog so much that they have certain expectations from my blog and when I talk about myself in my blog, they get so irritated and ask me over chat, "I come here to read and learn something about testing that can help me do better testing, I don't want to read about you and what you did and all your marketing stuff".
You don't get to see a live cricket match or a Formula 1 race without you being forced to watch the advertisements in between. Anything that you want to keep watching is a business opportunity to someone and they place advertisements and that's marketing for them. When I write about myself, its important for you as my reader to understand that it's one of the way I look for self inspiration whenever I am down. If you want to read something fabulous in this blog, I hope you allow me to read something that I want to read to get inspired and write a post that appears to be fabulous to you.
OK, this post isn't a debate about the above topic but I am sure, I did a mistake in setting the wrong context for what I want to say under the topic "Let the context drive and yet you be the chauffer"
Believe me, I wanted to set a wrong context and that was intentional. Yesterday night, a tester/cum test manager Rahul Mirakhur, the Apple Macintosh Geek you can bet on, had a status "context matters..." and the idea of this post came alive. So here is a context...
When a police man is informed over radio about an accident that took place and he rushes to the scene and he discovers two cars damaged and appears to be a head to head collision. What would your first question be to the people who are fighting with each other if you were the policeman?
All the policemen I have seen try collecting information about the context and try to make a judgment or take an action based on the context information he has.
What if you were one among the two, fighting against an idiot who rammed his car head to head and you discover that he doesn't posses a license to drive the car, yet the policeman arrests you without asking any questions?
Would you not be terribly disappointed?
If you would be then I think you value context a lot.
Now time for you to answer my question: Why does many testers, leads and manager not think about the context information they need to collect ( more than what they think they have collected ) to take a better decision, especially when they have been going wrong. ( If they don't recognize that they have been going wrong, is a bigger problem, of course)
The policeman who arrested you, followed a best practice that states: A guy in an accident scene who is shouting on top of mouth is the culprit! Are you OK with such best practices?
As rupee is gaining Indian business leaders are planning to make all of us work 9 hours a day for 6 days and no more Saturday off. I thought growing economy means things would be more smooth :) [ Refer to this article ]
Why cant we fight back saying, "Hey we will do our work in a more skilled fashion and that's what would result in cost v/s value to our customers in North America and Europe and it's a win-win situation"
Ha ha! I am sure we can never say that because Best Practices drive us. A person who has worked with company X for a long time and implemented a process or style of doing things is hired by Company Y and he tries the same in Company Y but fails. Why?
There are good practices in Context but there aren't best practices!
Ramit Manohar, one of my favorite thinkers on testing from India reports to Vipul Kocher, the President of Indian Testing Board and the Co-Founder of Pure Testing. If I were to practice humility, it has to be looking at Vipul Kocher.
Ramit, during our meet, started saying about a question he often asks in interviews that he claims to challenge testers. I interrupted him and said, "Ok, let's assume that you are interviewing me and why not I try taking up the challenge?"
So, here is the question he asked me: You are riding a bicycle. A pedal comes out. What would you do?
This isn't a testing question! [ that was how most of the testers whom he interviewed reacted because they didn't think of collecting context information about why someone is asking such a question in an interview supposed to hire a tester and ended the conversation there]
You might want to know how a context driven thinker and a skilled tester: clears traps, solves problems, gains situational awareness, learns new things, asks questions, makes a suggestion, proposes solutions, a lot more ...
Here it goes...
What aspect of my thinking would you want to see by making me answer this question?
Flow of idea, lateral thinking, situational awareness, collecting context information ...
Whom are you referring to when you say, "you"?
It's you Pradeep!
Why would I be riding a bicycle when I have a bike and a car?
You are in a race
What do you mean by a race?
Something like Tour De France
Where am I riding a bicycle?
On the busy streets of Bangalore
What do you mean by a bicycle and bicycle pedal? ( I asked him to look out of the window from the coffee shop and showed him what bicycle means to him and the pedal that I am aware of as one was parked outside)
Yeah! That's similar to the one that I have in mind
What speed am I traveling in and are there brakes that appear to work when applied?
Ha ha! How fast can you travel in busy streets of Bangalore? ( I accept, being in Bangalore, that was a stupid question :P ) The brakes are working fine.
Is someone chasing me?
There are people trying to overtake you to win the race.
Does this mean, I am leading the race?
Is there something important I missed asking or might add value to me taking a decision?
Yes, there is a bicycle repair shop nearby!
How important is winning the race to me?
You should say that!
Can I assume that I am not bothered to win the race?
There is a huge prize money for the winner.
I dont want to lose that. However, what is it for a person not finishing the race?
He will be shot!
Wait a minute... Are you interviewing me when I stopped the bicycle after the pedal came out? [ the smartest question, in my opinion]
How far is the finish line from the place where the pedal came off?
Not too far!
Is the pedal made of Gold or has a value bigger than the prize money?
Ha ha! I don't think so.
Let me stop it here (although I think you should meet me sometime and listen to the entire conversation between me and Ramit which might excite you, too)
I shall de-brief what might have happened if context related information was not collected, taking the above exercise.
- I might have been shot, if I had not known that the person finishing last in the race would be shot.
- I might have tried too hard to win the race for the prize money whose value is lesser than the pedal that came out.
- A "bicycle" might be a brand name of a car where there was a nasty pedal fitting that restricted the performance of the car. Had I assumed it to be the bicycle I know, I would have not cleared the trap that Ramit *might* have set.
- Had I not asked an important question, "Is there something that I missed to ask?", I would not have found that there was a bicycle shop nearby that might help me in taking better decisions.
- Had I not discovered the speed at which I am traveling and the brakes not working, I might have taken a different decision, all together.
Every question might lead to an answer or to another question, and every answer or question that raises from a question, would lead to asking a potential question that discovers more information about the context.
Why would you want to go to a doctor who never asks any questions nor collects any context information to a patient and starts operating the moment patient says, "head ache"?
If you want the doctors who treat you to be context driven but you are hesitant to be context driven as a tester, you better try not feeling guilty about it!
-- Pradeep Soundararajan - http://testertested.blogspot.com - +91-98451-76817 - firstname.lastname@example.org
"Pradeep's first language is not English--his first language appears to be testing." -- Michael Bolton