Friday, June 3, 2016

Work on culture: being told and offering views

Some days I feel there's serendipity in the air. Today, the serendipity emerged with two tweets of totally different sources close by in my tweetstream.

The first tweet got me really excited and thoughtful.
I feel there's a lesson for the software industry here. Being realistic about our abilities. Respecting everyone's contribution. Thinking in bigger scale. Making mistakes and not trying to hide them.

So it seemed very appropriate that the next tweet I looked at was one by Anne-Marie Charrett, proclaiming "Leave testing to the experts".

Just seeing the title, I disagreed. Seeing who wrote it I was sure I wasn't disagreeing, that the disagreement is probably around rhetoric. Reading the text, I feel there's some experiences I have that make me feel different.

When Anne-Marie says: "I don’t tell you, oh developer how to code your program. I don’t tell you oh, sales person, how to sell your product.", I instantly realize I do tell developers how to code their program. I regularly mob with my developers, and feel increasingly comfortable offering my views. I do tell sales person how to see our product. I offer my views regularly and in good spirit. If my team in large (sales people belong to my team in large) felt protectionist, they would not take my offered views as that. And if I offered views that were dismissed because experts just know better, I wouldn't feel particularly good about that. And we'd make more mistakes, improve less. So I love the fact that everyone tells others what they could do, and everyone tries to understand why the other would think that would be a good idea.

This tweet sums it up perfectly - Respect. I show respect and I'm shown respect. Respect is like trust, cultural aspect that can be offered without me working hard to earn it. Believe good in people and you get good in people.
Offering view is often taken as telling. I like to try to hear people are offering views even when I feel they are telling. 

Having worked side by side with developers, it's clear I bring in some special skills and I develop some special skills, both in myself and in the people I share work with. As there's less of need of me being the expert in testing as everyone tests like an expert, I feel sad when we reclaim testing saying things like "Leave testing to the experts". I'd like to see that we could distribute that expertise and with a mix of different skillsets to it (in particulation the automation mindset developers apply to any problems they encounter), we will find ways of doing great things even better.

So when Anne-Marie asks:
So why do you think its reasonable and perfectly acceptable to tell me how to test software? 
I would consider reframing what we hear as people telling as people being bad communicators with good intent and missing information they could well have on how software testing actually works. And like with the expert pilots listening to advice from newbies, we should open out to listen what advice we're given. And instead of taking advice as advice, I like to think of responding: "That sounds interesting. Would you like to pair with me on trying it out in practice?"

Paraphrasing Woody Zuill from memory "It's in the doing the work we discover the work that needs to be done". I find that while doing, some things that I considered worthless or wrong, turn out to be interesting ideas that combined with existing knowledge transform the ways we work.