"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.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

How Pradeep teaches software testing - Part 1

I'd like to spill the beans here. I want to tell you how I teach people to test software and my journey of it. I have also written about it in the past here , here and here. In this post, I'd like to tell you about finer details of my teaching style and how I got them. If you would read all the parts I am about to publish, you'd know more about my teaching than you ever did or you ever wanted to :)

How my speaking style evolved

The influence of James Bach & Michael Bolton

The first time I ever witnessed someone teaching software testing was when I got coached by James Bach and Michael Bolton. I had also witnessed people who, in the context of teaching software testing, were reading slides. I don't consider what they are doing as "teaching software testing" but I consider them as "slide runners".

The way James and Michael coach are two diverse powerful approaches to teaching testing. There are things in common but there is James specific and Michael specific signatures in their respective styles.While I was working on the exercises they gave me, I was also observing how they teach me. That was the most important step for me to think about teaching other testers.

I was curious to find out how James or Michael feels when they coach testers. What goes on in their mind? What is the thought process? How could I experience what they are experiencing?

A way I could do it, was to start coaching a few testers aping the styles of James and Michael. I remember my first class, I cracked the same jokes that I had heard from Michael Bolton and copied the body language of James Bach. Did it go well? Fortunate for me, that audience hadn't seen J & M in action. It appeared to be good. I had watched James Bach's Becoming a Software Testing Expert video at least a 100 times to try copying his style. I practiced and practiced. The bathroom and toilet was the best place for me to do so. Most people are bathroom singers and I had turned myself to be a bathroom presenter. Over the last few years, those who have seen James or Michael in action come to me after my talk and have said, "There is so much of James or Michael in you". Not surprising.

Moving away from being an ape to developing my own style

The best part about trying to ape James & Michael was, I failed to do so, in many occasions. There was someone else in me by the name of Pradeep who was constantly bringing himself out. He used to sometimes take over James Bach and Michael Bolton. I was very afraid of that. I didn't know if people are going to like Pradeep as compared to James or Michael.

At times the Pradeep in me took over for a longer duration as I couldn't hide him too long and people weren't disappointed about that. Slowly, the Pradeep in me started gaining confidence that he could do it all alone without the help of James & Michael styles he was trying to ape.

It happened that my English accent got into a spin and I was neither speaking the Indian English accent nor Americans would consider that I belong there. So, many Indian testers have thought I was trying to fake my accent to sound more like an American. I had a tough time explaining to them that I was not and then gave up. I guess I was paying the price for admiring and communicating a lot with James and Michael :)

I began focusing more on my skills to teach than to be worried if people are thinking that I fake my accent. Today I connect my audience with good content and humor that they almost seem to have forgotten making note of my accent. At least, I would like to think so :)

Today my talks and classes have lots of humor, not because Michael does it too but the Pradeep in me is a natural humorist. Today my talks are aggressive and I pump a lot of energy out, not because James does that but the Pradeep in me is highly energetic to talk about testing.

The legacy passed on

Just about few days back, Santhosh Tuppad's girl friend pinged me on Gmail Chat (that occasionally works after the launch of G+. I just hope Engineers in Google stop boasting about their innovative ideas of write hell lot of code to test code that intimidate the industry and focus on fixing issues that irritates the users they claim to care for) to tell me that she is seeing so much of me in him when he speaks. I helped her understand it shall go away after a while because the Santhosh in him won't allow Pradeep to dominate for long.

Two days after that Parimala told me that she surprised her husband by using some words which I use as frequently as I can and then realized "OMG, this is so much of Pradeep in me. How do I get rid of this guy?"

It looks like legacy passed on and soon they will recover and pass it on to someone.

Watch out for part 2


swetha said...

Actually I remembered those words what you had spoken in class about the influence of James on you when ever i see you in him :)

Divya S said...

I started reading ur post's from one of the links from Parimala's Curious tester and i really enjoy reading...

Nandan said...

OMG! I need to be careful! I remember telling a friend who wanted to join some testing tool training course something like "Tools won't test, but people do" (in exactly the same way you present in class) :) That's okay, it's good to be a master's apprentice - to become a master ;)

SrinivasRadaram said...

Feel a bit more of BOOSTING... Good if it works out for you (Pradeep), obvious reason "everyone wants to make money"

Anonymous said...

After reading Pardeep blogs, now I have started understanding testing and doing good testing on my product. I am feeling change in my thoughts and scenario now I exercise. Thanks Pardeep :)

Pradeep Soundararajan said...


Two things:

My name is Pradeep and not Pardeep :)

Second, it would be great the next time you comment with your name or at least a name you choose to use.

Rahul Kulkarni said...

Rahul Kulkarni: Today i started reading your blogs influenced with "Black Wiper Testing" which D.S showed us 2 days before.To be frank i imitate people when i like their body language, i frequently do it with my team mates trying to talk in your way,i don know how much i am good at it.This was the first thing which i took from you,now coming to learning testing from you,i guess its lot more as i am seed under testing environment eventually aspiring to sprout as a tester.