Tuesday, June 8, 2010

(6/12) All I Ever Needed to Know About Testing I Learned in Scouts

This is the sixth 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... Kind

When I speak to Scouts about the meaning of the word "Kind", it is of the idea that they understand that there is "strength in being gentle". They treats others as he wants to be treated. They do not hurt or kill without reason. These phrases are often used to discuss a scout's endeavors in the wild. When out on a campout, it's common to go fishing and to catch fish to eat at the campout. That's not being unkind, that's doing what one does to get food. Willfully going out and bashing a bird or an animal with no reason (i.e just for the fun of it) would be seen as unkind. Likewise picking on someone else would also be seen as being unkind. 

Why do I liken this to the Tester?  It's great fun to poke holes at a product, and it can also be fun to give developers a hard time for their mistakes. However, karma can be really hard on people, and many times, unkindnesses have a way of being remembered and often redressed. When we find something out of place or not working correctly, it's rarely approppriate to crow from the rooftops that we have found something truly awful. Do development teams need to know that information? Absolutely they do, but they do not need to be subjected to ridicule and/or derision while bad news is being delivered. I've seen some crass attitudes from some testers over the years, and sadly, the most crass of them have come from environments where testers have been treated like second-class citizens in their respective companies.

Notice, one unkindness often begets another, and so on. Given the choice, I would certainly not like to work in that kind of environment, so I want to strongly encourage any testers out there, whether you have been treated unkindly by others, resist the urge to follow suit. A little kindness goes a long way, and for those environments that don't reciprocate, do yourself a favor and get out of those organizations and find one that will. Life's too short to foster bad blood.

Note: I will be taking a break from this series tomorrow so I can stay on track with my book reviews. Part 7 will appear on Thursday :) ).

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