Saturday, June 20, 2009

Driving a car successfully or driving a successfully car?

You might yourselves the question what you really are doing and what your objectives are.
What do you want: "Driving a car successfully or driving a successfully car?"
Or perhaps successfully driving a (successful) car?

Although this question has nothing to do with testing. It has also everything to do with testing. And no, this is not the metaphor about explicitly mentioning colors, requirements and what car you want. It should make you think how you approach your testing.

I'm am aware that there are laws and rules on certain places which states you have to be above a certain age, you need a driving license, you need a car, preferably your own car. I also know that there are different perceptions about what successfully is and what cars are. And yes, they might have some influence on the outcome. And no, I won't consider them in the lines which will follow. Sometimes it is better to leave certain values and restrictions to keep a better picture and stick to a main concept.

I believe it is in human nature when they have to do something they start doing their best. They want to be successfully. I think it is also in human nature to give own interpretations to questions, assignments, stories etc. These interpretations are mainly created based on information which is not verbally given. When someone hires you for testing, you assume you should test like you always did. You start using your best practices without checking if that is wanted.

The same can be done with driving a car. A purpose of driving a car which makes sense is to go from point A to point B.

I think here the mistake starts. Based on best practices you can assume that from point A to point B should be done in limited time. Did you check this? Or should it be done in an optimal way. What is an optimal way? The shortest route? The less gasoline consuming route?

Perhaps you even don't look for information and you sit in your car and based on your experience you go beyond the speed limits. Is this asked? Is this allowed?
Are these the right questions?

Driving a car successfully
Imagine you have your car and start driving. Without instructions and the assignment you are willing to go to point B. As you are an experience driver you hit the road. During the trip you rely on your best practices. You were taught to watch the road signs, monitor the gasoline meter, look further then just the car before you, use a kind of mapping device, or map, (or perhaps you know were point B is and you don't use them at all.), etc. You make assumptions based on your interpretation and you take action according your best practices. Your reach point B.

You might think I drove my car successfully as I made it to point B without accidents, within time using the allowed gasoline.

Are you really successful? What about:
- the location of point A?
- is getting from A to B the main purpose? Or can it also be taking some type of luggage in the direction of point B?
- is point B a coordinate on a map or just a reference to a location?
- are you sure that the care must be unharmed?
- was reaching point B the objective? Perhaps it was the task to do everything but avoid point B.

How did your best practices influence your decisions and would it help if you first started with investigating the main purpose and conditions? Don't interpreted this that all requirements should be clear and SMART. Only those who matters.

Do you also start approaching a project as written in TMap or ISTQB? Because your references and best practices are based on these ideas? Or do you investigate and then decide of a method like this can be of some use?

Driving a successfully car
A Porsche is a great car. So are Lamborghini, Ferrari, VW, Skoda and so on. This is what we should believe if we read all the adds, articles, forums, researches. And all can be used for driving. If you believe unconditionally all those stories, adds etc, you are driving a successfully car. At least you believe this. So will everyone have his/her successfully car. Are you willing to drive the car of your boss although it is not your favorite? Be careful how to respond as it is the boss's successfully car. Or is it? Perhaps your boss was also was forced to drive it.

To decide which car is a successful care for you, you interpreted all kinds of information and you based your point of view on it. It helped to built up your experience about driving this car. Somehow it is also in human nature to defend your believe about a successful car, of course it is yours otherwise you wouldn't driving it.

There might be some kind of process behind:
You first bought a car for a purpose; you start some investigation which car suites the best.

You are aware that there are better cars, only you cannot afford them or simply not getting them as they are rare in your region. After a while you start believing that your car is also successful based on your experience. Your car gives you joy and a good feeling. Finally you think you know that your car is the only successful car as you make the assumption that there is a relation between you being successful and your car. You are no longer open for discussion on terms which matters and using the cruise control to drive.

In the world of software testing this is also happening. How much adds, articles etc are not yet written that course like ISTQB, TMap, TMMi, Requirements engineering etc are "promising" that you must have those certifications and work according the written content? Don't you think that those organizations are trying convincing that they are the only successful tool to keep you driving? Do you ask yourselves every time if the conditions which can lead to success is also available and necessary to do your driving job?

Successfully driving a (successful) car
Driving your car under the given conditions reaching the objectives you were given can lead to success. To drive in a car which you prefer and gives you joy might lead to a successful car to support your trip. This seems to be a win-win situation. In this my advice will be also watching the environment you are driving in.

Sometimes you see opportunities which make it worth to stop and shoot some pictures. Sometimes you are challenged to speed up and breaking some rules against speed limit. Although it is not allowed, it can bring you on other thoughts; it helps you to see things in other perspectives. Also slowing down might support your trip and vision. On your trip there are always some kind of unpredicted situations triggered by the "unknown-unknowns" it helps if you change behavior. Perhaps you might not reached your goal within the agreed terms. It can help you to add value to your trip.

In testing it can be the same. If you decided to go on the road with given means and methods take time to judge those and check if they are still given the value needed. Perhaps other value can also be added at that moment. Dare to question your approach and don't rely on the cruise control of your best practices with test methods.

Or just driving?
Another option can be just starting driving. Just see were it brings you. This can be useful and fun. Do something you normally don't do. Don't make it as the daily trip to your job. When opening your mind for circumstances you might find opportunities to help using the means you have.

This is something different then approaching a project with your best practices and methods because there is not yet some direction defined. If you introduce those you will directly have impact on the route the project will go. In this situation it not your skill which will add value to the project; is the method which might define unnecessary conditions towards the project and make it less successful. Sometimes it is better to walk around and see how you can use your skills. Using your skills is not forcing your skills to be used.

Success is not based on methods and best practices, they might help. Written words can be misleading. There is always a context behind a question/assignment. Don't just do what you have been taught to do. Be aware that changing behavior can help to set everything it the proper perspective.

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