Sunday, December 11, 2011

Testers Act Like Cheerleaders!

It has been a long while since I have posted.  I have been torn as to the next topic and the second excuse is I have been fighting a cough for 3 weeks now.

Quickly I need to make a post on "Test is Dead".  Pradeep stated that this topic was a must to be a respected tester.  Here is my statement - "Testing is NOT dead.  Testing simply MUST be DIFFERENT!  Ponder that for a little while.  On to the real post ...

I have slowly but surely been reading "The Inmates Are Running the Asylum" by Alan Cooper.  In his book he states "Programmers act like jocks."  I will not accept this as universal truth, because many developers I have the pleasure to work with do not haze testers, especially good testers.  They do not snap testers with a towel just for the fun of it.  Well shooting testers with Nerf bullets is a close second to a towel pop.   I will state many programmers are team players, but honestly some do act like jocks.

So using the team sport theme, I ponder what do testers act like?

At first I considered team manager or coach, but that seemed too gatekeeper like to me.  We do try to mentor others on the nuisances of testing, but I do not think coach is the primary role of a tester on a development team.

Hmmm!  Are we the Adam Sandler of software development, "Water Boys" (for the ladies, Water persons)?  I really do not think good testers cater to programmers, but sometimes it feels like that.

Do testers act like jocks too?  I had a conversation the other day where someone told be that a well known tester is simply a bully or jock like.  It is their way or the highway.  I disagreed, because I think the tester in question is always looking for a challenge or dual.  I think the testing jock has the acumen to compete with anyone, so the swagger has been earned.

What I have concluded is that testers most likely act like cheerleaders.  We are there during every software release supporting the success of the programmers.  As I occasionally say we are there to make developers "look good".  We have nice legs and look good in skirts (inside joke from QA standup last Friday).  OK! Maybe we do not all have nice legs, but we do aspire to be nice.  We cheer the jocks on by crafting delightful documents about the imperfections we uncover in software.  We cheer the team on as deadlines approach.  Most testers I know are glass half full people, so we smile regardless of the number of priority one defects in the queue.

At this point in the blog I am wondering what are the characteristics of a cheerleader.  Do we really act like cheerleaders?

Here are three potential characteristics of a tester as related to the characteristics of a cheerleader.

Sportsmanship - Being able to deliver software with grace, being able to congratulate another team's success, not spreading rumors or talking down about other teams failures.

A positive attitude- Being ready and focused on testing, always being willing to try something new, being friendly and cooperative.

Spirit- Having respect for your development team, representing your developers in the most positive manor you can

A few months ago I found myself challenged by the Sportsmanship aspect of being a good tester.  Honestly I failed miserably.  I was asked by C-level management in front of a fairly large audience, which team has the poorest quality.  I answered from my gut and failed to put things in context.  The team I threw under the bus has the most complexity and integrations.  I could have not caved to the pressure and crafted a response with appropriate "Safe" words.  Oh well!  After all it is all about continuous improvement!

So are testers jocks, water boys, team managers, coaches, or are we really Cheerleaders?

Happy Testing!

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