The catalyst

Someone asked me a question the other day that stumped me. They asked “What do you enjoy most about testing?” It struck me that this should have been an easy question for me to answer. After all, it’s a pretty standard interview question. I can think of many things that I enjoy about testing, but picking the one I like most I found very hard.

My tentative answers just led to further questions. Do I like breaking stuff? Yes, there is some satisfaction in bug finding, but in that case, what is the part of the process that I really enjoy? I like the part where I find the defect, I like the part where I capture it in a bug report, I like it when someone decides it’s worth fixing, and I like it when I verify that it has indeed been fixed. So what is the most satisfying part of that process? And why do I like it so much?

After a lengthy thought process, I came to this conclusion: the part of testing that I most enjoy is being given something good, and being the catalyst for change that turns it into something extraordinary.

It’s not about finding bugs
If I were on a team with terrible developers, I would find bugs all the time. But that isn’t satisfying to me. Being given something terrible and being part of the change that makes it adequate is not satisfying. But when someone gives me something that they already consider to be good and then I can help to make it better than good, the reward from helping to create something like that is immensely satisfying.

Why isn’t it about being the creator?
When I am the one who begins the creation process, I find that I run out of steam and it’s quite hard for me to see it through to completion (hence my many unfinished blog post drafts!). I don’t think this is uncommon. Maybe the world is full of people who like to create things and people who like to improve on existing things, and two of these people working in tandem can create truly extraordinary things.

3 thoughts on “The catalyst

  1. Excellent insight here – I am with you completely on finding bugs and job satisfaction (I even wrote an article for Better Software once called “I’m tired of finding bugs”.

    And, I think you’ve hit it on the head as to what makes good testers tick – it’s being a partner in the creation process, and doing the right things to both identify where the creation process may be lacking and to create a better end result overall.

  2. Hi,

    Nice post :) Agree with your point on making good things better.. I would also like to add the potential to learn new things.. And last but not the least, living a childhood dream – I used to dream about becoming a private detective like Sherlock Holmes, here I’m, investigating various bugs and helping my developer friends to solve the mysteries.. A software detective :)

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