Sunday, August 10, 2008

Success of improving your Test Process depends on culture

Have you ever been in a situation were you know based on facts and methods how you want to improve your test process and still it fails?
Have you been in such a situation were you did everything right and still you did not gained the expected result?
Did you had that feeling afterwards that the organization was not yet mature enough to deal with your improvement suggestions?

Although there are enough challenges you have to concur, I think one of the important things is the culture of en organization. And I think this is a hard one to beat because organizations are based on human activities and humans are thinking and acting different. Still it should not be impossible as organizations consist of humans who think the have a common bounding. This common bounding should be based on something.

Geert Hofstede defined a model sometimes called the Union Model.

Symbols: These can be words, statures, images or other important signs which express what is important and meaningful for an organization. Examples: Language, Humor, clothing, Logo etc. .

Every organization is using them intentionally or unintentionally.

Heroes: In organizations heroes are normally role models. These are persons who people think are important for the organization. This can be based on their behavior, their contribution to the organization or their profession. Normally these are the founders or other important leading persons. Often their are more heroes in an organization, as well as small as big heroes.

Rituals: These are social actions or habits which are found important in an organization. These rituals show often some kind of pattern. Examples: way of greeting, eating and drinking together, Friday-drink, monthly meetings, way using communication like email, phone, etc..

Values: Are those things people approve and trying to comply with like: loyalty, solidarity.

It is hard to measure deeper values like fundamental principles. They are often dealing with visions and presuppositions how it is actually working. If there is consensus within the organization about the fundamental principles no discussions have to be held and they also give direction to possible solutions.

As in an union, you have to remove shell by shell to get to the center.
Sometimes in software testing you are a pioneer. Then it is hard to get examples for these shells. Though you have a world of experience you can take examples out of. Perhaps here we also make a mistake. We take examples from other projects, books and trying to place them in the organization you are working for. When you are aware you are doing this, please then be also careful, because now you are trying unintentionally to change the culture. I think if you are dealing with organizational aspects of culture, then do in intentionally.

If you relate this to testing then the first shell can be easily defined.

As Symbol you can take the name of the test method like: TMap. Or terms like: Test script, test case, test plan, ISTQB-certification. (I tried to find an example of Humor, though our job is a lot of fun, and humor is there enough, it is hard to give examples. Perhaps this one might work: "It is not a bug, it is a self developed feature!")

About heroes: you might take your test manager as hero. Though we have some good names in the world also like those who wrote books and expressing our profession all over the world like J. Bach, P. Gerrard and more.

When coming to rituals and values, you get more to the hart of the organization. Still this will be also the area you have to pay attention to as they will influence for a great deal your success for improving the test process.

I think it will be a waste of time if you force an organization to improve if your improvement suggestions don't fit into the culture. There are lot of books written what should be improved and how to do this. Only did they also mention to pay attention for culture? Or was the goal which fits the means?

I think when improvements have to be done we as testers have to pay attention to the culture of the organization. We might start identifying the shells of the cultural union. We have to try to translate those improvements in terms as they could be part of the content of these shells.

No comments:

Post a Comment