Saturday, July 11, 2009

Whisky or whiskey and testing

Some people call it whisky and some name it whiskey. The notation depends of its origin. In Ireland and the USA they use Whiskey. In Canada and Scotland they name it Whisky.
In the Netherlands we tend to use Whisky.

With this liquor you have differences already in tastes, flavors, ages, colors, experiences. I can imagine that you also have differences in believe and understanding. Most of the people can name at least three different brands of whisky and tell which is better. There are a lesser of them who actually tried that whisky.

You have these kinds of differences also within testing. People think to talk about the same when referring to testing an application only the approach is different. Like with drinking whisky, people have different understanding and believe they talk about the same drink telling it is the best whisky. It is quality. They claim this statement because of their experiences.

If this is true, then quality is just a result of the experience something gives you. This has quite some impact on testing as people tend to get experience by using specific approaches.
For example the view of testing in the USA is a bit different then in Europe (I'm generalizing a bit). In the Netherlands we tend to test according procedures, guides, phases, project plans, steering groups etc like test approaches called TMap and ISTQB. In the USA they tend to test based on technique, their understanding of technique, heuristic methods etc.
Because of these differences the experience will also differ. Therefore the perception of quality will not be equal. As result of this; testing is not equal.

The pitfall here is that we are trying to teach each other about testing, sharing ideas and learn from each other based on different levels of understanding while information might not fit the experience. Wise lessons are misunderstand and misused.

A few days ago I noticed on twitter how a fellow tester was going to enjoy a 16 yr old whisky called Lagavulin. I never heard about this brand and believe him when he claims it is a good, quality whisky. For myself; I like the 18 yr old Highland Park and in certain situations the 12yr and the 15 yr old are also good. It depends on the situation and mood I'm in. This is an example of differences in understanding quality although we both are talking about the same topic, there are differences in experience and understanding. I could try the whisky he is drinking and offer him some of mine to get a better understanding of each other, perhaps when the occasion is there. At this moment I stick to testing.

Knowing about differences in testing I try to understand more about other ways of testing. You can read about it, experience is more valuable. For this I was lucky to visit the Miagi-do of Matthew Heusser as result of my search for a Mentor, Mentor in software testing. During these visits I received a black-belt challenge which I accepted. I will not share the details of this challenge as it will not be a challenge for you any more. That challenge was though. It was a brain teaser and breaker. It was fun to do. I think the strength of the challenge was the capability of Matt to adapt the challenge based on information I gave him.

At the end I earned the brown-belt and I'm proud of it. Not because I got a brown belt, because Matt made me learn more about myself how I approach testing, what differences there are in points of views, were I rely on my own experience and what the pitfalls are when doing this. He also strengthen my idea that there are more views in testing and to understand those I need to learn more. As I knew this already and I am more proud of gaining the brown-belt instead of the black-belt. It makes the brown-belt more valuable because I'm aware of my knowledge, willingness to learn and drive for testing.

Like drinking whisky, testing is also a case of perception. They might differ based on experiences without claiming what is good or bad. For this you have to be able to communicate on proper level of understanding and able to share thoughts and ideas.

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