Friday, November 23, 2012

Mention an issue as action

Some time ago, I learned the words mimeomorphic and polymorphic actions from Michael Bolton. The concept of actions that machines can mimic and actions where you expect a different thing feel relevant for testing, so I went for more information and just got my copy of Shape of Actions by Collins et al. 

Just reading the first chapters of concepts, I notice I'm already thinking about my actions as the team's tester. I noticed a pattern of what I intentionally do that I did not pay much attention to before: action of mentioning issues.

This team's developers are onsite only Mondays and Thursdays, so those are naturally more communication / problem-solving oriented days. In this product, I have the habit of logging into Jira every morning as my first thing, to see what new comes in - from customers, through product managers or from product managers. I also read the comments people make on issues of others with the intent of learning about the product.

Yesterday two issues were particularly interesting related to the mentioning them -action.

The first one was a comment on an issue that could not be fixed since it did not reproduce and as per error message was "external". Reading the comment I could not help but laugh out loud, as this was the first time I saw something like this in this team's comments. The team is usually so well in system ownership, that this is out of ordinary. As my amusement already disrupted the peace, I could go right into mentioning what I just thought of. As reaction, the developer next to me went to the code mentioned in the issue and came up with a solution we can do. By end of the day, there was a solution to the external problem, that was easy to dismiss by someone else - a newcomer to the team. What especially stuck with me was the close-by developer who suggested the actual fix saying "we here have learned that the external issues will come back to us, so it's just better to handle them right away".

The second one was an issue that was noticed in production, and had probably been there for a while. There was no owner assigned for the issue automatically, as it was in an area with somewhat unclear ownership. So instead of waiting for those responsible for allocating the work to find someone appropriate, I just asked about the issue. I asked if we had done any changes that could trigger this problem. Two developers found it interesting problem, and within the next hour did some paired investigation of it, resulting in a fix.

I realized that whenever I chose something to mention, things like these would happen - fixes would be created. Mentioning too many would ruin it for all of us, but mentioning just the right ones helps make the product better and the team feel small successes. Yesterday's two mentions reached out to our product management too, and I was delighted to see an email this morning from the head of product management telling she "buys this fix" with an emphasis that something good had happened.