Thursday, December 18, 2008

Beware of the auto-pilot

Today I drove to my work and during this trip I received a text message from a friend warning me for a traffic jam. Based on this information I decided to take another road to avoid this traffic jam. Instead of sending him a message back I took the phone and called him to thank him for this warning. The coincidence was that just 500 meters before I had to drive straight forward I choose the turn I usually do. Just after 25 meters driving I noticed the mistake I made. Only there was no way turning back. I had to continue and was stopped by the traffic jam of eleven kilometers. This cost me about 40% delay.

The best part was that it made me think about this situation. I realized that this also could happen to us. When we are testing systems we know very well, we also turn on our auto-pilot. The good part is that in normal situation we are able to perform out test much faster then we did initially. The worse part of this will be when we get distracted we also might take the usual route instead the intended route based on new information.

I think the lesson learned would be to focus even harder on decision points in the system under test when things are getting a routine.

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