Whenever I found them, I insulted them as much as I could till I realized that they needed more care from me than those whom I was already caring about. I started caring for them. My world changed and so did theirs.
I was always wondering how these bad testers are happy. Needless to say I thought I am a great tester and still continue to think that way. By "great", I mean, "just what is required". Today, you can be a great tester by being just what is required. Tomorrow, the case might change.
I tried shifting the question from "Why are bad testers happy about themselves?" to "Who is making these bad testers happy?" and "Who is preventing the bad testers to learn that they are doing bad testing?"
That's when I said to myself, "There are no bad testers. There are some who are forced to practice bad testing. The force is either internal or external or a combination of them".
That was an important shift in the strategy that helped me in my exploration of identifying what factors cause a tester to appear bad or practice bad testing.
I mean, ones that the testers themselves are responsible for or have control over.
- Money more important than anything else: For some testers who are sole breadwinners of the family, they might internalize the idea that what works for others is a safer route to traverse than exploring new paths and risking their cash flow. They spend their life traveling those peoples route who themselves have followed someone else's route. All finding it to be safe and hence not wanting to change.
- Fear of losing the job: For some testers, losing a job means unbearable social pressure. These testers don't ever try to speak against anything to protect their jobs. Their whole life is spent on running just one test case - Is this the right time to shut my mouth? - to which the result always remains - Pass.
- Shallow ambitions in life: For some testers, their ambition is to never do something fascinating but just run the rat race, build a house, buy a car, get married & have kids. They also try to ensure that their kids continue to run the rat race. I am not speaking against taking care of the family but taking care of the family should be balanced with building high ambitions in life and working towards it.
- Victim of Rutherford-Bohr's experiment: Some testers, no matter what exciting stuff they are presented with, try to return to their most stable state of ignoring all the exciting stuff because their life is already happy (grounded).
- Living someone else's dream: Some testers, don't have dreams of their own. They just pretend to have their own while they are living other's dream. Some live the dream of their parents and rest their manager's. Living others dream makes their life boring and they give up on almost everything, forget testing.
- Taste of early success causing a drift from continuing to learn - Mostly a very dangerous one. These kind of testers think they are on the right path and there is no reason for them to change.
- Having learned that good testing is hard - Some testers acknowledge what good testing is but they also learn it is very hard to test well. Out of that, some of them make up their mind saying they are not in for such hard work because they think life is bigger than doing good testing. Nothing wrong but they don't seem to be doing to the big part well, either.
I mean, the ones who are responsible or has a power or influence to get good testing done.
- Head or Tails of testing - I have talked to at least slightly less than a hundred Heads of Testing of big, medium and small scale organizations. They have so much power to change things and yet they don't seem to be doing anything about it. I must also admit that some people are doing very well while most don't appear to be. Why don't these people take a break from their work, sit along testers on one of the project and test for just a couple of days to realize how hard it is and what can they do to help these testers do a great job.
- The interviewers - At least people in India, when they are out of college, want to just learn enough to crack an interview. When interviewers emphasize on demonstration of memorization than skills, its easy for a billion plus population to crack them. Fakers get in, Genuine people might not.
- Testing institutes - Business demands scale, I agree. Scaling at the cost of quality of education is in my opinion, spoiling your own country's chances. Please read the book Outliers by Malcom Gladwell and more specifically Chapter Five - The Three Lessons from Joe Flom. You'd know what your business needs for future if it has to remain scalable.
- The experts - If you have great ideas, please price them a little lower for the first few years or based on the geography. You won't be considered cheap, trust me. Don't make money an entry barrier to someone who wants to get excellent at testing.
- Commercial conferences - If you have have had good deals of sponsorship and paid delegates for a specific year, consider giving 80% discount to 10 people who cant afford it but want to attend it.
Combination of internal & external forces
When the external forces & internal forces combine, its a killer combo for bad testing
- Lack of speed in firing poor performers - If the people responsible to get good testing done are delaying in firing poor performers then the hope in the poor performer rises that he or she is doing well and should continue doing that. In at least half the organizations I consult, I get the opportunity to consult because they haven't fired the poor performers for a long time and something went kaput.
- Not paying good testers well - I have been to a few conferences in India where Head of IT or Head of Dev or Head of Testing are keynote speakers. Their speech is usually, "We have come to realize that testing is of great importance" but then they don't match the pay of the good testers they have to their claims. People call that "keynote". Can you walk the talk?
- Waiting till the year end to spend on training budget - Wondering why many organizations keep their training budget till the year end and not organize a training when the team needs it sometime mid year? As a side note, I wish, in India, the Learning & Development department, which is a separate entity in the organization is eliminated and every department becomes Learning & Development apart from what they do.
- The book writers - When you write books that are not different from any other books that are available, you are re-iterating the point that the industry isn't changing. Many testers who accidentally pick up a book and skim through it read stuff that they have read a couple of years ago feel they are on track (and also end up not buying your book). Is that a message your book wanted to communicate?
I am 30 now. I am more curious about my age of 50 and waiting to get there, because I hope, I would have seen many changes - lots of positive ones. Mostly because the generation to which I belong or the generations junior to that of mine would have solved the problems I have listed and might have gone beyond that. I am not discarding the fact that the older generations have not solved it. There are dozens of them out of a population of millions.
When I tried punching just one bad tester I met, blood oozed out. Not on the face but in my hands for it was a mirror that I saw.