Stop hugging, start working … on excellence!

Some context: this blogpost is my topic for a new peer conference called “Board of Agile Testers (BAT)” on Saturday December 19 2014 in Hotel Bergse Bossen in Driebergen.

I love agile and I love hugging… For me an agile way of working is a, not THE, solution to many irritating problems I suffered from in the 90’s and 00’s. Of course people are the determining factor in software development. It is all about people developing (as in research and development) software for people. So people are mighty important! We need to empower people to do awesome work. People work better if they have fun and feel empowered.

Vineet Nayar talks about people, who want to excel, need two important things: a challenge and passion. These factors resemble the ones described by Daniel Pink: autonomy makes room to excel, passion feeds mastery and a challenge gives purpose. I wrote an article about this subject for agile record called “Software development is all about people“. I see agile teams focus on this people stuff like collaboration, working together, social skills… But why do they often forget Mastery in testing?

Rapid Software Testing teaches serious testing skills by empowering testers in a martial art approach to testing. Not by being nice and hug others. By teaching testers serious skills to talk about their work, say what they mean, stand up for excellence. RST teaches that excellent testing starts with the skill set and the mindset of the individual tester. Other things might help, but excellence in testing must centre on the tester.

One of the many examples is in the new “More agile testing” book by Lisa & Janet in chapter 12 Exploratory testing there is a story by Lisa: “Lisa’s story – Spread the testing love: group hugs!” My review comment was and I quote: “I like the activity but do not like the name… I fear some people will not take it too serious… It might get considered too informal or childish. Consider a name like bug hunts.”

Really? Hugs? The whole hugging ethos in agile makes me CRAZY. Again, I love hugging and in my twitter profile it says I am a people lover. But a fluffy approach to agile in general and testing in particular makes me want to SCREAM! It makes me mad! Stop diminishing skills. If people are doing good work, sure hug them, but if they don’t: give them some serious feedback! Work with them to get better and grow. Mentor them, coach them, teach them. But what if they do not improve? Or do not want to improve? Well… maybe then it is time to say goodbye? It is time to start working on some serious skills!

Testing is serious business, already suffering from misunderstanding and underestimation by many who think they can automate all testing and everybody can test. In agile we are all developers and t-shaped people will rule the world. In 15 years there will be only developers doing everything: writing documentation, coding and testing… Yeah right! I wish I could believe that. Testing is HARD and needs a lot of study. As long as I see a vast majority of people not willing to study testing, I know I will have a job as a testing expert for the rest of my life!

This blogpost reflects some “rough ideas”. After the peer conference I will update this post with the ideas discussed in the room.

1 Comment

  1. Lovely! Why I say lovely is because of the fact that I have experienced the “hugging” stuff and “Being nice” stuff given more importance than the testing skills. In my experience, I have rejected a lot of candidates or almost all and that is why I was removed from the interview panel in my past 😀 (Couldn’t help because I was looking for some serious skills in testers). I like to be nice, humble, kind but I am also into testing business; I have said goodbye to some people in my start-up as I couldn’t see the good work in testing. Either they are demotivated with their life or they don’t want to study or whatsoever reasons, if it doesn’t work for me I say goodbye once it reaches the limit and I don’t feel good to work with bunch of people who exist for some hours to just make some money! I don’t feel that they are worth even the money because they did not accomplish anything good with the kind of testing that they do.

    Self-study / self-education is important skill by itself which most of the testers need to realize for their life. I being a software tester for 6 years now, I still go back and re-read the documents / articles on exploratory testing by James Bach, Michael Bolton and others because they motivate me and I get new ideas to test better.

    Also, I have seen many testers in my experience read lot of non-technical books ONLY and it doesn’t look serious to me because technical books add value to the projects while non-technical can give you different perspective to testing. I am saying both combined together can ROCK testing.

    Thanks for sharing this, I am not alone in this world who thinks about “STOP hugging and start focusing on serious testing”.

    Good one brother Huib 🙂 Loved reading it completely. I don’t remember when I read a blog post completely last time. 2015 started with your blog post read 🙂

    Have a great year ahead.

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