Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sun Tzu Art of war and software testing

Finally I found some time to start reading Sun Tzu's The art of war.

In one of the first pages I noticed some text which might explain why it is hard to manage a test process.

"A general must see alone and know alone, meaning that he must see what others do not see and know what others do not know. Seeing what others do not see is called brilliance, knowing what others do not know is called genius. Brilliant geniuses win first, meaning that they defend in such a way as to be unassailable and attack in such a way as to be irresistible. (Thomas Cleary, page 7, Sun Tzu: The Art of War)"

Imagine that you have three generals: one general from business, one general from development and one general from software testing.

As a general from software testing you stand in between the war zone from the other generals. They expect you to provide information so they see what you see about the system and the process. For example: does the process to create the system contain enough information to meet the requirements. They also expect you to provide information so they know what you know. For example: are there some defects in the system.

If the software testing general has to give the views and knowledge away, he can barely be a brilliant genius. Although this is often what the other generals expect from him as he should give positive news about the quality and an advice to go to production. In this case he will give away his knowledge and views away.

To me it seems that we should keep providing this information which will lead that no one will see you’re a brilliant genius. Also you cannot fulfill the role of a software testing general as you will not be successful when you have to give away all information.

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