Thursday, October 7, 2010

Forging Our Own Future

A bunch of people that I follow on Twitter are attending Agile Testing Days, which is taking place, well, right now, in Berlin. A great meme started getting posted and a lot of people jumped on it, including me. I think it’s worth repeating, and yes, I’m gonna’ pontificate on it a little, too :).

Ready? Here it is:

We are a community of professionals.
We are dedicated to our own continuing education and take responsibility for our own careers.
We support advancing in learning and advancing our craft.
We certify ourselves.

I love this! Seriously, this should be the manifesto of every tester. I want this on a T-shirt! I’d wear it proudly.

Now I’m sure some of you are saying “come on, what’s so amazing about this?” What’s amazing is that there’s a groundswell of testers that are actively pursuing making themselves and their communities better. We aren’t waiting for others to recognize our worth, we’re willing and able to put it forward ourselves. We are not waiting for others to decide what we will learn and when, we are getting together, formally or informally, to improve our craft at regular intervals. We are developing skills that go beyond testing, and that will help us develop our craft well into the next couple of decades, and we are not asking permission.

I appreciate the last statement most of all; we are willing to put our own actions, words, deeds and efforts into what defines us, and not relying on a piece of paper to tell others that we are “certified testers”. I used to be ambivalent about “Certifications”, since at least in my neck of the woods, they don’t seem to mean anything (at least not to any employers I’ve ever interacted with). But really, that’s not the point. I don’t want a piece of paper saying whether or not I’m good at what I do. I want my reputation to say whether or not I’m good at what I do.

Seth Godin inspired in me a desire to try something audacious… my next job, wherever it will be, will come without me sending a resume. Say what?! Seriously, that’s my plan. No, I’m not currently looking for another job right now, but should that time come, I want to have it happen because:

a. I’ve been sought out by people who have heard of me.
b. I have a list of highly respected references that will blow their minds.
c. I will have product that they can touch, feel, and work with that will make them go “Oooh!” and “Ahhh!”
d. I will have a blog so compelling that they will have to sit up and pay attention.

…plus other things I haven’t yet thought of.

Now, before you all think I’ve bought a first class ticket on the “full of himself” train, no, I absolutely do not think I am there yet. I’m probably light years away from that right now, but in a very real sense, that’s where I want to be, and that’s what I want to work to achieve.

Godin’s comment invariably comes with the answer of “yeah, that would be great, but I don’t have any of those things, to which he follow up with “yeah… that’s my point!” Meaning, if we don’t have those things to point to, what makes us think that we are that indispensable person, that go-to person that we hope and strive to be?

The key take-away with this current meme is that we and our community will foster the future, if we make the decision to make that future happen. It will not happen just by our wishing for it, it will not happen just by us waiting for it. To quote a favorite radio host, we have to make the decision to “get up, leave the cave, kill something and drag it back home”.

Vivid impression? I sure hope so!

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