Thursday, August 15, 2013

Utilize Your Courage and Display It: 99 Ways Workshop #57

Tomoe Gozen
(巴 御前)
(1157?–1247)
Late twelfth-century "Bushi",
known for her bravery and strength.
Illustration by Clovery
The Software Testing Club recently put out an eBook called "99 Things You Can Do to Become a Better Tester". Some of them are really general and vague. Some of them are remarkably specific.

My goal for the next few weeks is to take the "99 Things" book and see if I can put my own personal spin on each of them, and make a personal workshop out of each of the suggestions. 


Suggestion #57: Utilize your courage (and display it) and stand up for what you believe in. Don't bend on your morals and ethics. Test the best way you know how, despite being told otherwise. Before doing this... make sure you have mortgage insurance. ;0) - David Greenlees

I smiled when I saw the contributor of this suggestion. David Greenlees is known to many as "The Martial Tester". His interest in and practice of martial arts informs his testing. The metaphors of martial arts often are found in what he writes and how he presents his ideas. 

Therefore, I feel it only fitting to place this workshop inside of the context of martial arts in general, and specifically within that of an amazing "warrior society", known collectively in Japan as "Bushi". In the West, we know them as "Onna-bugeisha" and "Samurai". 

Their "code of conduct", in many ways, beautifully mirrors our own.


Workshop #57: Read about "bushido", and other texts that relate to the idea of living to a code of conduct. Consider the ethical foundations that are vital and important to you. Ask if you would be willing to (metaphorically) "commit your life" to your testing. Demonstrate ethical behavior to your team and colleagues. Establish standards that will pass your own personal code of conduct, where you could say "I have done nothing that would dishonor the name of 'Tester'.


In Japan, from it's earliest recorded history up to what is referred to as its "early Modern era", there existed an amazing warrior society. Bushi trained extensively, fought on behalf of ruling clans and feudal lords, and did so for the glory of the clan, their land, the Emperor and, during several critical centuries, the Shogunate. 

They dedicated their strength, their prowess, their lives and, most importantly, their honor to represent their society. Though there are many disciplines and philosophies that helped develop and inform this code (Confucianism, Zen Buddhism, Shinto) it is encapsulated, and most widely familiar, as "bushido" (or "the way of the Bushi").

Bushi placed the highest value on honor and service, to the point that violating that honor and breaching their code were considered offenses so great that death alone, at their own hands, would allow for atonement.

In our modern era, that may seem extreme, and even alien, to many of us, but the code of conduct fires our imaginations today because it was so high and exact. Discipline, focus, drive, integrity, honor, service, devotion to ideals and the willingness to stand for them, and die for them, stands in stark relief to much of today's "slippery and situational" ethics.

Software testing is a world of contexts. There are many situations that require flexibility, adaptability and the ability to pivot and consider different angles. A common phrase is that "there are no "best practices", just good practices in context". I agree with this phrase, but I will say that there are indeed "Best Practices".  Here's a short list of them:

  • Honesty
  • Loyalty
  • Self Improvement
  • Education
  • Integrity
  • Compassion
  • Creativity
  • Empathy
  • Bravery
  • Love


If you must embrace any "Best practice", consider starting there.

Do I have a code of conduct, my own "Bushido"? I do, and for me, it's fairly simple. I'm a Boy Scout. World Scouting's code of conduct is how I consider and determine the vast majority of my testing decisions (and, indeed, my life decisions). I consider them core principles center to my being. The exact wording of the Scout Law varies around the world and in different countries. Since I was raised in the United States of America, I state it as:

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

If I am ever asked to do anything that would violate any of those principles, I need not call on context, situational ethics, or anything else. My answer is simple:

"NO".


Bottom Line: 


Family, culture, government, nationality, belief systems, organizations, companies, all are areas of our life where our devotions are focused, and our patterns of action and our "Way" is defined. My way very likely may differ from yours. Much comes into informing how we view the world and the way that we approach our ethical and moral compass. We need not be the same, but we need to stand for integrity and honesty in what we do as testers. While the code of the Bushi may seem extreme today, it's an interesting thing to ponder… if we were to devote ourselves to the same level in our testing careers as the Bushi did, to the extent that we would end our own lives if we violated that trust… what would we do differently?



Post a Comment