Rockstar testing

I often hear about “rockstar developers”, but I never hear about rockstar testers. Which makes me think we could do with a few of them, since at the very least they’ll make our profession sound a lot cooler. Not that software testing isn’t viewed as a glamorous lifestyle already of course. So here are some ideas of mine for being a rockstar tester.

Who needs the rules, man? Software is an evolving industry, testing particularly so. Methods that were accepted as best practice just a few years ago are already being questioned now. New approaches are being formulated all the time, and many of them work really well. Everyone has the opportunity to be a pioneer in this industry. Don’t limit yourself by what others tell you is right. The best way to learn is through your own experience, so get learning!

Keep the band together. Don’t wait until meetings to talk to your team members. Talk to each other every day, tell each other what you’re working on and how it’s going. Share interesting articles, catch up over lunch. Then maybe you won’t need such lengthy team meetings anymore.

Give the people what they want. What good is music if nobody wants to listen to it? It’s the same with everything you do – testing, reporting – none of it matters if nobody wants it. If nobody is bothering to read your reports, trim them down or find a different method of communication altogether. I used to write 20 page test plan documents at my last company. When I tried it at my current workplace, nobody wanted to read a document that long. The last test plan I wrote was a paragraph-long note written on our bulletin board. Nobody complained about missing information, actually they were all pretty pleased because they had less to read.

Listen to your critics, but listen to your fans more. It’s easy to take criticism to heart, but don’t let it deter you from taking risks. People won’t always like the way you do things, especially if it defies convention. But when someone likes what you’ve done, don’t just do it again, think about how you can improve on that and make it even better.

Also, it couldn’t hurt to get a guitar, take up some kind of illicit drug and stagger into the office at 1pm every day smelling of cigarettes and hard liquor, with a couple of groupies in tow. Actually that probably could hurt a bit, in the sense that it could get you fired. Best to just stick with the guitar part of that advice.

4 thoughts on “Rockstar testing

  1. Killer first album.

    Now hit the hallucinogens and get working on the testing equivalent of ‘I am the Walrus’!

  2. This post reminds of a post by Chris McMahon.

    To your point of, “The best way to learn is through your own experience,” I’ve found that I often learn the most when I fail. To me, failure is the unsung hero of success. As testers, it can be hard to let go of perfection because we’re supposed to be so focused on making sure the software we test doesn’t fail. I see far too much failure turn into blame in testing which is a shame because failure is such a great learning opportunity.

    I’d like to hear more about the new approaches you mention that are working for you.

    Really enjoyed reading this one and that pic is still making me laugh!

  3. Thanks Marlena. :)

    “To me, failure is the unsung hero of success.” – I absolutely agree! I think it can be hard for anyone to talk about their failures, because it means admitting to failure first. But it’s definitely an effective way to learn. A healthy diet of experiencing firsthand successes and failures surely leads to wisdom.

    Actually there were a few points in this post that I was tempted to expand upon with regards to some new approaches, but I decided to keep it short. The expansions have been added to my ever-growing backlog of half-written blog posts, so I’m sure one of these days some of them will grow up and be real blog posts. So yes, more on that soon!

  4. Awesome!! Maybe a would tell some intellectual now but i am very busy laughin, i am a tester too and your blog is very interesting, i think i will back here.

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