Sunday, June 13, 2010

(10/12) All I Ever Needed to Know About Testing I Learned in Scouts

This is the tenth 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… Brave

Bravery is one of the most misunderstood virtues, in my opinion. Oftentimes, Scouts get bravery confused with foolhardiness or recklessness. they feel that charging into situations is the best way to show bravery and courage. I however have tried to show them that being brash is just that, it's not bravery. It's also not just the physical challenges that are placed before them. Does it take bravery to get into a kayak and paddle down a swift river? Sure it does, but another example of bravery is standing up to others who belittle you for your practices and beliefs. I know plenty of scouts who do very well in the former category, but do poorly in the latter. While I dislike the word "cowardice", the fact is that we all have a bit of it in us. where that cowardice lies and in what capacity is something every one of us gets to discover at various  times in our lives. the things that we fear are oftentimes not associated with physical challenge or threat so much as they are with emotional areas. We can see many different areas where fear comes into play. The brave person is not the one that can stop being afraid and do what they need to do, but the one who does what they need to do in spite of the fear.

In testing, we often have the thankless task of having to tell people they are wrong, or that they have done something wrong, or to show someone, perhaps an entire organization, that they are heading down the wrong path. make no mistake, this can be difficult, and very trying on the person who must bear this news. While attitude and approach have a lot to do with how well these things are handled, bravery and courage is required. It is important to stand for what we believe in, to commit to do what we say we need to do, even when it is convenient for us to cut corners. It may not be popular to take a certain position, or we may get a lot of push back for the information we deliver. It in these times that courage of conviction must be there, where we stand by our team, our mission and our values. Just as vital in this mix is having the courage to admit when we have been mistaken or have erred in our judgment or our methods. If we have discovered we are in error, or something did not happen in a manner in which we originally said it should or would, we much have the strength and courage necessary to step up, own up and determine what we will do going forward. For many, that is far more difficult than dealing with a physically dangerous situation.

Courage is far less about feeling than it is about action. we do not show or display courage by how we feel, we display courage in what we do. It is entirely possible to go into a presentation or an important make or break meeting and be terrified of what you are going to say. You could be terrified of the repercussions of what will transpire. The question is, do you go ahead and deliver your presentation? If so, then you have shown that you are brave and that you have courage. You may sit down and feel like you are about to faint, and don't be surprised to find out you're not the only one feeling that way about that particular issue. When it comes to dealing with people that feel fear and act, versus those who don't feel any fear, I'm less trusting of the latter than of the former. Not always, mind you, different people have different fears. Still, if someone always seems to be totally fearless and rushes in as though it is nothing, I tend to be leery of that person. Someone who has doubts and fears, but perseveres through them and accomplishes their goals anyway, that's someone I'm much more willing to put my trust in.

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