Sunday, June 6, 2010

(4/12) All I Ever Needed to Know About Testing I Learned in Scouts

This is the fourth of a 12 part series.


As many of you know, outside of testing and raising a family, my single biggest time commitment is being a Boy Scout Leader. Over the past couple of years, I’ve seen and heard various presentations regarding a code of ethics around (teaching, development, testing, governance, fill in the blank). Each time I’ve heard or read these statements I’ve caught myself saying the same thing…  “If everyone just lived by the Scout Law, we wouldn’t need this patchwork blanket of ethics rules and codes of conduct”.


My “challenge” now is to see if I really could map Testing to the Twelve Points of the Scout Law.

Note: these twelve points are those as defined by the Boy Scouts of America; while the Scout Law is similar in all countries that have Scouting movements, the wording is often a little different depending on the country.


“A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent”


A Tester is... Friendly


From the Scout Handbook - "A Scout is friendly. A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He offers his friendship to people of all races and nations, and respects them even if their beliefs and customs are different from his own."


Testing likewise builds on the same philosophy. there are those who do not understand what we do and all too often belittle or demean our craft. Is animosity going to win anyone over to our side or our way of looking at things? Generally, no. We are much more apt to encourage directions of development and policy where applicable when we try to do it in a spirit of friendship and friendliness. If we have a differing view, we should be willing to discuss it rationally and give others that same opportunity to do the same. Forcing others to see our view or belittling their efforts in kind, perhaps because they belittled ours first, does not give us many opportunities to change things.


Testers should be focused on working with others, and be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt unless or until they prove not worthy of it. This is not to say that testers should be passive and not stand up for what we believe in or feel is appropriate, but there are ways in which we can do it that are nost specifically antagonistic. If testers pre-judge based on previous background, prejudices or other means that don't have any bearing on the tasks or projects at hand, they are setting themselves up for failure, or at the very least, working at less than optimum effectiveness. Yes, I'm saying go out on a limb and expect that others will treat you in a friendly manner if you do so as well. Seem like total common sense? Yeah,. I think so, too, yet I am astounded at times to see the rancor and bile that occasionally has built up between development and test organizations. It doesn't have to be this way. It is possible to express deeply held opinions and do so in a manner that preserves a relationship. It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable. While it's possibly too much to ask that we become friends with everyone we work with, I feel it certainly helps to start from that premise.
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