Sunday, December 17, 2017

Kaizen on Test Strategies

I just saw a colleague changing jobs and starting to talk on test strategies. As I followed their writings, my own experience started to highlight. I realized I am no longer working on visible test strategies - the last one I created was to start my second to last job and it did not prove that valuable.

When I say test strategy, I mean the ideas that guide our testing. Making those visible. Assessing risk and choosing our test approaches appropriately.

In the past, making a strategy was a distinguishable effort. It usually resulted in either a document or a set of slides. It guided not only my work, but supposedly the whole project. It was the guideline that helped everyone make choices towards the same goals.

Thinking of the strategy and specifics of a particular project was distinguishable effort while I was still doing projects. With agile and continuous delivery, there is no project, just flow of value in a frame of improving excellence. When I joined new organizations that had no projects, my introduction to coming to "improve / lead the testing efforts" triggered me to the strategy considerations. So what is different with my most recent effort, other than the lazy explanation of me not being diligent enough?

I approach my current efforts with the idea that they have been successful before me, and they will remain successful with me. I no longer need to start with the assumption that everything is wrong and needs to be set right. Even if it was wrong, I assume people can't change fast without pain, so I approach it with a Kaizen attitude - small continuous improvement over time, nudging a little here and there and looking at where we are and where I would like us to find our way.

Nowadays, a selection of visions of what good testing looks like resides in my head. I talk about that, with titles like "modern testing", "modern agile" and "examples of what awesome looks like". I don't talk about it to align others to it, I talk to allow people visibility to my inner world, for me to learn on what they are ready to accept and what not.

All the work with testing strategy looks very tactical. Asking people to focus here or there. Having a mob testing session to reveal types of information we miss now in general. Showing skills, tools. Driving forward the respect of an exploratory tester but also the patient building of test automation system that does better as per what I understand better to be.

Looking back, I remember (and can show you) many of the test strategy documents I've created. None of them has been as effective as the way I lead testing, with Kaizen in mind, for the last five years.