There’s no Hope in Test


I bet that got your attention.

No,  I am not echoing James Whittaker’s and others’ thoughts decrying the role of the Test Generalist.  They may or may not be right.   I think it makes sense, and only time will tell for sure.

I did not say:

There’s no Hope FOR Test.

I said:

There’s no Hope IN Test.

While PM/Dev/Business Team may hope it works right, or ships on time, or sells enough, Hope is *not* a valid Testing Technique.  Hope is another way of saying “Assume”.

Neither has a place in Test.

Testing is a analytical role and requires strong critical thinking skills.  In a nut shell, in order to mitigate risk to the business, Testers need to be able to outthink their peers.  We need to find the right answers.  These require the right questions.

Which requires Thought!

Testers do not Hope.  They prove or disprove.

We are paid to find invalid assumptions, not make them ourselves.

—–

Originally, this was the intent of the speech.  Prove it works, don’t hope it does.  However, I realized there is another important meaning to consider.

I recently was in a meeting with Eric Brechner and Test Leaders from around Microsoft. We were chatting about his blog entry, “Test don’t get No Respect“.

He talks of a reality Testers can be in.   Misunderstood.  Paid less than their counterparts. Tasked to do brute force work.

I tire of the Test Zombies and the path of Intellectual Laziness they follow.    These are the folks who view Testing as both an Ends and a Means.  They automate because they automate.  They do what Dev/PM tells them, because that’s what they are used to.  They complain about Dev/PM doing this, because they are used to that as well.  They forgotten their role and value to the process.  If this is what we are purging from the software engineering process, so be it.  Good Riddance.

They aren’t thinking in a fundamentally thoughtful role.   This can even progress to Career-ending potential.   These folks HOPE that Test isn’t dead.  It would affect their livelihood, but are doing nothing about it.  ‘cept Hoping.

Folks, true testing isn’t dead.  As long as there is software, Testing will be needed.    But you need to make sure you are proving your value to the business.  New techniques will be invented.  New requirements will form.  Business plans will be disrupted.  These will require new approaches.    This may change Testing forevermore.

After a quick set of searches on Indeed.com, I gathered these stats:

software testing –   6,304 new jobs (edited from 111,047 (see comments))
java – 84,554 new jobs
C++ – 41,106 new jobs
c# – 40,837 new jobs
cobol – 3,031 new jobs

I look around nowadays and wonder if this what it was like when mainframe developers were told they were dying.   As you can see, COBOL is not dead, but it’s demand is woefully diminished.

But I wonder what happened to those folks who hoped their skill would be valued forever.

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10 thoughts on “There’s no Hope in Test

  1. Good message, Brent. The first part of the text is excellent – up the value of testers by focusing on thinking and adapting. On leading instead of following.
    In the second part, though, you might want to check the statistics. “Software testing” (using quotes) has only some five thousand openings. Pretty close to Cobols 3031 …

  2. I’ve worked on many projects that use the Hope Driven Methodology and it never worked.

    One nitpick I’d make with your post, you say “Prove it works, don’t hope it does” – even the greatest of all testers cannot prove something works. Otherwise, though, I’d agree with the sentiments of your post and I’m just about to publish my own Testing Zombie post

  3. certainly “dispel the hope that it does”. I think I see where we are diverging here. We can not prove that a program is correct (ie Code Quality). “Works” to me is indicative of creating Customer Delight (Quality of Experience). Maybe that too is unproveable…

    in any case, do not hope it does.

  4. Pingback: Five Blogs – 14 February 2012 « 5blogs

  5. Pingback: Forgive me, father, for I have sinned. | Testastic

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