Thursday, January 28, 2016


How do you keep up to date with the test industry?

It's a question you've heard before at job interviews. You may even have a stock reply. You read books (you have one in mind in case they ask you what you last read) but you can't really remember the content, just the concept. You attend conferences, and while you had a great time at the after-party you forgot everything you heard because the content pandered to your emotions and to what you already believe anyway. You go to meetups and you have a simply lovely time agreeing with each other for two hours over a few drinks.

Can you defend this? Can you say that you keep yourself fresh and in-touch and up-to-date and you live in a state of constant self-improvement for these reasons?

We are a core of craftspeople struggling to improve ourselves and the world around us, we question everything, including ourselves, but it seems perfectly okay to state things like "I enjoyed that talk" without being asked to defend it. When did we get into a state where we refuse to question the value of a talk or book or article? It's very nice for us to have an opinion, but talks and books and articles absorb our time and attention and they should have some value, particularly and especially if we're going to recommend them to someone else.

So next time you hear someone tell you that they enjoyed a talk ask them why it was enjoyable and how it improved them or their testing. If we keep each other honest maybe we'll create a culture of self-questioning and improvement. If you're just interested in getting out of the office and enjoying the after-parties then could I recommend a holiday instead?

Moreover if you give out advice in public, especially if you're at a paid conference, be ready to defend it. If you're reading advice, especially if you've paid to hear it, why not question what you're hearing? Preferably publicly, so everyone can benefit from your question. If someone came for an interview and told you that they're awesome would you hire them at once, or probe for evidence? You need to ask questions. Even if you don't believe in your question you owe it to yourself, to them, and to the testing industry to pose that question - and if you're being questioned you need to understand that the questioning is for your benefit, as well as everyone else's.

We've all had a quick rant at certification or factory testing or misunderstanding of testing in our careers, so let's keep ourselves to a higher standard. Let's practice what we keep telling everyone we do and question things, including anyone who claims to speak with authority on subjects that matter. Let's not sit in the Church of Testing while we hear the good word from the pulpit, let's sit in the lecture hall after the presentation of data at a science conference and strongly question and debate what we're told in search of something better. Then let's question the questioners. And any reasonable target* of questioning should not hide behind outrage or social norms, but understand that we're all just searching for what's best.

Apathy is the dark shadows where confidence tricksters hide their lies. It's the cover of night that lets nonsense dance and play in the piazza of our industry. I now wonder if we can ever turn the lights on.

*Reasonable targets include anyone who speaks or writes with apparent authority or even strong opinion on a subject, including in response to anyone who speaks or writes with apparent authority or even strong opinion on a subject. The way that person should be questioned will depend on who they are. An industry leader should probably be more resilient than a testing newbie. Special attention should be given to anyone selling something. I'm giving the advice "be human, be an adult, have tact and try to communicate"; mainly to stem the flow of questions and comments on how we should all be nice to each other in case people become frightened to be involved.

No comments:

Post a Comment