"Some birds aren't meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright"- Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption. This blog is from one such bird who couldn't be caged by organizations who mandate scripted software testing. Pradeep Soundararajan welcomes you to this blog and wishes you a good time here and even otherwise.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Hot ! Coffee Mug Story and Testing Lessons

Hi Reader,

As more and more people are appreciating the content here, it is my responsibility to post stuff that keep meeting your/their expectations. Initially although I felt its tough but it is getting easier once I re-collect my experiences in this testing career !

As Rita Mae Brown says:
"Good judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment"
( the above quote taken from http://www.wisdomquotes.com/cat_experience.html )

Here is an interesting story for you all .....

One usual day at work I called up my friend who sits 3 floors below me
"Preetam , baro maga !"( I meant , "Preetam come on" in kannada language)
"Ok dude , meet you at Smoking Zone" was his reply.

We both usually share , chit chat , gyan-ify at SZ , a great place we often visit.
We were having coffee and I started off a discussion as to how this coffee cup would have undergone testing and ...

I thank myself for probing people to come out with their experiences/learnings , I usually end up having a great learning as this one !

He told a story , he says its true and it could be the story of your company too !

__ The Hot ! Coffee Mug story ___

Once a company decided to give a surprize gift to its employees on some occasion of a festival/anniversary and impress them further with an innovative gift.

After a group discussion by the senior management they zeroed on of presenting a coffee mug.
Now what's the innovation there ?

They consulted design experts , art experts and with lot of hardwork they came out with a prototype design and the senior management were happy and confident of the prototype form factor.

They were optimistic on it and went ahead placing the order after a count on head-count ( is this english , write ? :D ) they had to distribute !

The D-Day( decided day, i meant ) came and it was distributed , on opening the gift the employees were thrilled to see design , art and innovation that has gone in to making of a 'great coffee mug' they had recieved as a gift.

After a few days on a regular sortie to all cubicles by one of the senior management employee found that everyone used the 'great coffee mug' as a pen stand .... no hot air :-D noticed above the brim of the 'great coffee mug'.

In a meeting the senior management employee mentioned his observation to other fellas and they were puzzled !

"Why ?" , " not even one had a coffee in it ?" , "were you around them during odd times ?" were some excited queries.

They started researching on it with a high priority since they knew how much time they had spent in the making of 'the great coffee' mug.

In the next status meeting there was an answer to it based on the comments/feedback from the employees...

Want to know what went wrong ?

Simple !

The 'great coffee mug' despite being great at looks and design was unable to fit inside the coffee vending machine available in that company !

Twas tall !

__ End of Hot ! Coffee Mug story ___

Now , How is this anyway related to testing Pradeep ? ( could be your question )

Learnings as a product tester -

1) A requirement collection missed/escape defect.

2) After a prototype is done and by any chance if it looks dazzling and you just want to enjoy staring at it , call for a tester - he would let you know how better it can be done.

3) If you want to surprize someone with a gift like this test it before you give it !

4) Excitement about doing something good should accompany a fear factor that "there could be a major requirement/test case missing".

5) When something looks too good it isn't always !

6) Before you invest on production ensure nothing has escaped from you ! in simple words "test it".

7) To become or to continue to be a good tester you should develop the ability to learn from anything you see around you.

8) Tomorrow or Today , if you are a CEO ensure that one of the senior you hire for your cabinet was a good tester and cotinues to be so even after becoming a senior.

"It could be a simple toilet paper , yet test it else it would end up loosing its worth even in the toilet"

Thanks and Regards

Pradeep Soundararajan

Disclaimer : This post is not to complain against any organization that has gone through the above phase , its just a true concern as a tester to improve the organization's effort to give better gifts to employees and also a token of appreciation to the management of that company who planned , spent time and money to gift 'the great coffee mug'. This post/blog is not pro-tester but learnings of a pro-product-tester.


Anonymous said...

This is a very good blog. I do appreciate it

Anonymous said...

Hope the coffe mug would have been a tester tested product.
Now what do u suggest buy a new coffee machine or altering it such that the mug would fix into it goes the question. We can also have a third party fix by having a medium to transfer from coffee m/c to the mug.

Gr8 blogs by pradeep.
Hope u have read his other blogs too.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

I myself liked this post for two reasons - I enjoyed writing this and also James Bach liked this post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

just got introduced to your work here...
Must say for now "Very Nice" :)

Pradeep Soundararajan said...


Thanks for your comment. Most importantly thanks for digging this post and commenting on it.

Wish I get an opportunity to interact and learn from each other.

venkat said...

Hi Pradeep,

This is Venkat. I am a software tester with approx 3+ years experience...Came across ur blog thro one of my friends and it is simply gr8...Am sure I ve already become an addict to ur blog..frm nw on ll follow ur blog regularly!!!btw coming into the above post with all due respect to the topic :),as always production issues come up and in this case its better for the organization to replace a vending machine rather than replacing all the mugs distributed ;)Also one main point to highlight from the above scenario is never it went into testing phase:)On the whole its a gap left during requirement gathering phase...Also in this case there has never been an analysis/testing on the gathered requirement which led to this production issue:)