Saturday, December 1, 2012

Have I Found What I'm Looking For?

As those who follow my blog might notice, I tent to mangle pop culture references to make my titles or make other post points when I write here. Today is no exception.

As many of you may be aware, I started a new job on Monday, November 19, 2012. You might also notice that this blog has been quiet since Tuesday, November 20, 2012. That is not a coincidence! Much of my time the past two weeks, with the exception of Thanksgiving weekend and some much needed time with my family, I've been dealing with a single minded focus; coming to grips with the paradigm shift I've undertaken.

For years, I was the lone gun. I was the guy who either had the answers, or needed to get the answers. I was mostly responsible to myself, and mostly took care of things on my own. Today, I'm the polar opposite of that world view. I'm part of a testing team with some rather talented people, and we communicate about our findings... a lot. Socialtext uses a tool called Colloquy, which is, effectively, an IRC client. There's two main chats that go on all day, every day. One's for dev, the other is for testing. When I say these conversations go on all day, that's exactly what I mean. We all contribute, we all share what we see, we all keep each other updated as to what we see and what we find, and those chats inform where we go next, what we do next, and what the developers see next. So I'm on that window and I'm typing a fair amount each day... and I came to a realization as I was doing it.

There's somewhere else that I do this. Once a month, for a couple of hours, I and a number of other testers get together, via a chat mechanism, and we talk testing. We pick an app, we explore it, we find issues, we talk about them, we decide where to go next based on what we learn, and we discuss what we learn. If what I'm describing sounds a lot like Weekend Testing, that's because it is what I'm describing. A couple of years ago I lamented "oh, wouldn't it be really cool if an organization actually used the Weekend Testing model? Think of what we could all learn! Think of what we could share! Think of how much wasted time could be avoided because we are actually communicating!"

For the past few years, I've dreamed of seeing something like this exist. I've hoped, but had my dreams either dashed by indifference, or the feeling that there's no time to do such a thing. I often wondered, though, what would a company look like that actually did this? Now I know. It looks like Socialtext. It looks like that because they actually leverage what they learn and they use it together. If something is going off the rails, we all know pretty quickly. If something looks promising, we're encouraged to explore it. Explore and share what we find. Feedback is almost immediate, and it's refreshing, exhilarating, infuriating, exhausting, maddening, and enlightening, all at the same time. It's the chance to live the Weekend Testing model and ethos full time. The funny thing is, though, it's left me with little energy to do many other things, at least for the near term.

So, for those wondering why I've been so quiet as of late, there's the reason. Also, be careful what you wish for... you just might get it :).
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