It has almost been 4 months since I have last blogged. Several big things (big to me, at least) have occurred in that period. The least relevant to this post, but the hardest on my schedule, has been a house move. We are still living 33% of the time out of boxes, but things for my family are slowly getting back to normal at our new location. In addition, the old house has most of its laundry list completed and will appear on the market very soon. <Fingers crossed> It has definitely been a rough adventure. If I wait another 15 years to move again, that will be fine by me.
That isn’t the only change for me. Today’s post, as is often the case, the result of deep thinking of themes that are problematic to me. As example, I wrote my last post when I was thinking through what I wanted to work on next in my career and where I wanted to do it. As a result, I have made a non-trivial decision to move back into a test role (Gory details? check out my LinkedIn profile). Several really great things happened after my last post. I has offered several great Development Lead roles and even a Development Manager role. These all were very interesting and if I hadn’t already committed to the new team, I might have taken that DM job. I definitely still think of it often. Why? Even though I am back in Test now, I suspect the Test discipline is not my final destination.
I have gone back to test because I have some new personal and “organizational” goals to aggressively pursue and I believe the best place to do that and contribute to the delivery of ground-breaking, customer delighting products is in that role.
To explain further, I want to improve lives and solve problems. I want to contribute to building businesses that satisfy a customer need and excel at doing it. In particular, I want to advance the science of producing Quality in the context of that business. This is a strong passion of mine.
In my last year in Development, I had zero testers. My team had to own their testing themselves. As a result, I learned 2 very important things. 1) Far too much of our focus on quality is around code correctness and 2) Testers are *not* needed to deliver improvements there. In fact, Testers who grew up the way I did, might actually be slowing down the product and contributing to a much more expensive bottom line. I think Whittaker is right when he claims “All that testing is getting in the way of quality“.
My developers, without a test team, had to focus on testing things themselves. Since we were an Agile team, we shipped each ticket when it was completed. Every day we were releasing something and every day if someone on my team messed up, the whole team would swarm to fix or revert. We discovered over time, what tests helped, what hurt, what policies protected the customer, and what were just burdensome costs. Over time, we learned to rely *more* on design practices make changes quickly and effortlessly than on costly overtesting. As we focused on our ability to react *quickly* to failure, our ability to prevent failure grew and grew. Our designs became much more cohesive, much less coupled together. Easily detangled and simple to test.
With code correctness managed, this enabled us to turn to quality and customer satisfaction of our feature (link here for what I mean by Quality). This ended up being a much harder and interesting problem. The team I left behind is still aggressively working hard to nail this. They are an Agile team and able to self-optimize for what they learn on a weekly basis. They will get there. I have no doubt of it.
They are working towards having pinpoint accuracy around customer insight and quality for their customer base. They will achieve QWAN.
So why the new team? And why test?
The test org of my new team is going a different direction than most. They are aggressively shifting functional testing over to development and changing their focus to higher value output. They want to create a much, much stronger investment in infrastructure that reduces the friction to high value customer insight and work prioritization. They want to shift to a monthly release cycle and a service orientation.
I went there to help them execute the shift and bring about an age of Data Science and Agility in the organization.
Just found out on Friday that I am going to be the leader for one of the key initiatives needed to make this happen.
My boss told me this along with the phrase “be careful of what you ask for….”
This is going to be one of the biggest tasks I have ever tackled. I do not yet know everything that I and my team will need to do, but it’s going to be very exciting and the final goal very rewarding.