Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Feeling Testing

I have noticed I feel testing from three perspectives. 

  • I do 1st person testing for any and all software that I personally create. 
  • I do 2nd person testing for my work as a testing specialist in a software team.
  • I do 3rd person testing by using software. 

I feel very different about testing depending on which perspective I take.

When I do 1st person testing, I don't care where testing begins, it is everywhere. I explore my problem, identify the next piece of capability I will be adding, and test everything I rely on as well as what I create. When people later tell me things I already know of, I am annoyed. When people later tell me things that surprise me, I'm delighted. I appreciate everything more if they walk with me, implement with me and not just guide me from the side without walking in these shoes. What helps me do well is having testing always there and not only after it's otherwise complete. Applying my 2nd person hat while doing 1st person testing happens naturally with meetings and end of days interrupting me. I used to hate this feeling of knowing a few ways to go forward and a hundred ways of going backward. With years in sitting with the feelings I deal with it a little better. 

When I do 2nd person testing, I go for actively figuring out what the 1st person could have missed. Even when working in close collaboration, I step away from our mutual agreements. I create new models to see what we're missing. I start with the why (value), pay equal attention to what this depends on and what we're creating, and use all of my energy in aspiring for better. I care of timing of my feedback, but I care for sufficiency (completeness) even more. I seek conversations, and expect conversations to change things. Good conversations - clarity of bugs reports, mutual learning - is what gives me joy. 

When I do 3rd person testing, every single problem annoys me. I carefully tread in ways that don't show me the most likely problems, because I'm doing my thing not testing thing. Users stumble on problems, testers go seek them. If I find and report, it comes with extra - visibility they wouldn't want or a request to compensate for my losses of service. 

The world is currently moving more and more work from 2nd person testing to 3rd person and 1st person testing. We know the 3rd person isn't willing to accept the work and do free labor. We know the 1st person needs that pair because software development is a social effort and working together helps us move (and learn) faster. 

I still feel testing is awesome - and too important to be left just for testers by profession. Looking forward to seeing where the mix goes.