Recently I saw this tweet: “a lot of testers don’t consider alternatives because they don’t know them”. It was a reaction in a discussion about a Dutch article with the title „The days of the ‘Dutch school of testing’ are over”. Jan Jaap claims that Dutch testers suffer from “Law of the handicap of a head start“. Really? I don’t think it is the handicap of a head start. Did we (Dutch testers) ever had a head start? I think it is something that is called “The Dunning-Kruger effect“.
The Dunning-Kruger effect, named after David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University, occurs when incompetent people not only perform a task poorly or incompetently, but lack the competence to realize their own incompetence at a task and thus consider themselves much more competent than everyone else. Put more crudely, they’re too stupid to realize they’re stupid. The inverse also applies: competent people tend to underestimate their ability compared to others. (Source: Rational Wiki)
In the words of Dunning and Kruger: this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it.
I think many testers don’t realize that they actually know very little about testing at all. And that is why they don’t do anything to get better. They are also not encouraged much by their colleagues. Testing is often underestimated. I guess everyone has examples of managers who do not value testing as much as we would want them to. Testing is often devalued as “pushing buttons” and “everybody can test” is believed by many. I have seen companies who use testing as education, a first step in an IT career…
But there is more… I have worked as a selling and hiring manager and I experienced that there is a lack of competence in spotting talented testers. If you have the right certificates, people believe that you are a good tester. Because they simply do not know how to spot an excellent tester. In my recent job search nobody asked me to SHOW them my testing skills. We only talked about it.
Normally, I do not blog about personal, non-testing related stuff. But this blog post is different. If you are not interested in my personal emotions and private life, no problem at all, I understand. Stop reading now and come back at another time.
My mother (http://ineterhorst.wordpress.com/) was diagnosed with lung cancer in June 2011. It didn’t look good and we all feared that she would not be with us anymore within a year. She got radiation and chemo treatment and a little medical miracle happened: the cancer disappeared! Almost four months ago I was with her at the doctor for the Quarterly checkup when he told us that “there was no reason to assume there are any active cancer cells in her body”. We celebrated and life went back to normal after almost 2 years of “hassle”. Then she got terrible headaches two months ago that didn’t go away for weeks and just to be sure the doctor wanted to make an MRI scan of her head. Her head was okay, but they found a tumor on her upper cervical spine. This time the cancer had spread and a PET scan showed cancer at several places in her body. This news was given to her on her birthday in April. It was devastating news and the prospects are unknown and not good, but it is a matter of months the doctor said…
My world stopped turning for a moment…
On Dutch television I saw this commercial titled “live today” by a funeral insurance and services company, which inspired me to write this blog post. It’s message is: “Why wait with saying something nice if it can be done today?”.
This blog is to tell you are the best mother I could have wished for. Although I didn’t make it easy for you when I was younger, you always supported me in everything I did. Even when things weren’t easy for yourself during your divorce or other setbacks, a simple request for help was enough to trigger you helping me over and over again. It didn’t matter if it was in the middle of the night, at the other side of the country or you had to prematurely terminate your holiday, you always came to my rescue! You did all that was in your power to give me and my brother everything we needed. Even when I started working and earning money, you kept buying stuff for us as presents or because you thought we might need it … Nothing was more important in the world than me and my brother. That might be a normal thing for many but I feel it is a very special thing to do and I want to thank you for that! There is so much more I want to say to you and I hope you stay around long enough to talk about all those things. You are the best mother I could ever wish for. Thank you for being my mother!
I love you!
In the last edition of Testkrant (in Dutch) I published an article on context-driven testing called “I am a context-driven tester! Huh? Really? So?“. In this article I (try to) explain what context-driven testing means and why I think I am context-driven. Jan Jaap Cannegieter reacted via email asking an interesting question which has crossed my mind several times already. The following quote is from his email but translated and slightly changed:
“Isn’t everyone context-driven to some extend? And I mean that on a sliding scale. People who always use the same method and implements this method slightly different every time are maybe 2% driven context (I have combined context-driven and context-aware, sorry for simplification). The Jedi tester using dozens of test methods that he blends to a unique test approach to apply in a specific situation is perhaps 98% context-driven.”
Jon Bach presented a “freedom” scale in his presentation Telling Your Exploratory Story at Agile 2010 Conference. Jon contrasts scripted testing and exploratory testing by plotting them in the freedom scale above.
Could such a scale also be applied to being a context-driven tester? Contrasting “Context-oblivious” with “Context-driven”? Maybe putting “context-aware” somewhere in the middle of the scale? Context-driven, context-oblivious and context-aware are explained on the website www.context-driven-testing.com.
I am not totally happy with this model yet, but can’t put my finger on it how to improve it. There is more to being context-driven as only applying methods and techniques. I also ask myself what is the added value of such a scale? I think it helps testers understand the differences between context-oblivious, context-aware and context-driven better. It might also make it easier to bridge the gap between the extremes or even advocate that everybody is or can be context-driven in some extend?
What do you think?