Sunday, April 12, 2015

Wearing Multiple Hats

This week there was an interesting exchange of thought on Twitter.  Here is a subset:

  1. Once again, testers: WE DO NOT PREVENT DEFECTS. We provide insight and information that can help other people to prevent them.
  2. Did you change the code yourself? The design? Or did you help the person(s) who did?
  3. ... In some cases. In others I did not. Is writing code the only way to prevent defects?
  4. Of course not. But let's be clear on who has responsibility and authority, and let's be appropriately humble.

I definitely like the aspect that testers provide insight and information.  Where this exchange sparked my brain cells was with respect to responsibility and authority.  Unfortunately I think there is a tweet missing where Matt Heusser talks about preventing a defect by fixing some code himself and committing the fix.  I think this is where Michael Bolton injects responsibility and authority by stating Matt was in the developer role and not the tester role.

This distinction caused me to think about what role might I want to play.  I think I want to be a "Team member".  Sure I think the skills I bring to the table is that of a tester's mind, but I also have other skills. I want to always apply each of those skills in the context of a Team.

I think Michael's point is that the actions taken can be bucketed into roles and that point is fine.  What I want to see happen is we reduce the dependency on roles and focus more on creating great teams with a diverse set of skills.  At Agile Testing Days 2014 Janet Gregory and Lisa Crispin talked about the T-Shaped tester.  A diverse set of skills with depth and breadth help form great teams in my opinion. Everyone can contribute in a spontaneous manner to build great software.

One of the battles I have seen over the years is the siloing or segregation of roles.  I would rather see the lines blurred.  This morning I read several articles in the April addition of Testing Trapeze.  I felt this quote in an article by Michael Trengrove resonated more closely to my point of view,   "Testers writing code, and programmers further developing a tester’s mindset.”

The quote itself implies a set of roles; however, I think the roles should be merging and applied.

In the Trengrove article I think there is another quote that also describes my point of view.  The development Director fo Orion Health, Jan Behrens states, “Today the biggest benefit of having test professionals embedded in cross-functional development teams is not that they are the ones doing all the testing but, similar to an architect or a business analyst or a UX designer, they have a particular set of skills that they help the whole team to apply.”  

My position is we should continue to blurr the lines by sharpening all skills and knowledge of all roles.  I greatly appreciate the acuteness of which Michael Bolton makes distinctions and those distinctions are important.  I prefer to wear multiple hats; however, relative to the context of the situation it is important to know which hat you have on!

Happy Testing!

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