The reeducation of a lousy tester

Having focused way too much over the years on the technology I’ve been testing instead of on the craft of testing itself, I have found myself with quite a lot of catching-up to do. Do I really think I’m a lousy tester? No, but when one compare himself to those people on my link-list over there on the right-hand side I guess more than me might feel a bit intimidated. As always, it’s all about context.

While I certainly think I’m doing decent job finding bugs where I am today, I just know I could have done so much more. Not only could I have let fewer bugs slip through my net, but I could have been a better sparring partner for those enthusiastic enough about the craft to appreciate discussions as well as being a better motivator for those not quite there yet. Also, being able to better explain and talk about testing to testers and non-testers (e.g. managers of different kinds) alike would most certainly be of value.

So, where to go… what to do?
How do you catch up years of ignorance as effectively as possible?

Fortunately there is an abundance of resources available on the Internet and at you local Amazon store, so that is not a problem. Well.. unless you count in information overload that is. I mean, where do you start? A full chronological study of Michael Bolton’s blog? Reading the entire Weinberg library? Go through the entire forum at Software Testing Club, carefully analyzing and committing to comment on at least one in ten questions? The list goes on…

So far I have been trying to absorb testing goodness from all these sources, and more, but I think I might do well coming up with a somewhat more structured approach. The only thing is I do enjoy jumping around a bit, not just focusing on one particular topic for an extended period. There are so many interesting topics to cover, so may discussions about methodology and techniques to take in and digest. I think I have done well so far by knowing a bit about a lot and I’m not ready to give that up. I also think creativity and problem solving benefits from a diversity of influences, and that the broader base you have to build on the more solid your work can be.

I still think I should do a quick verification to see that my testing foundation is sound so I consider attending the AST BBST course this summer as it seems to be more than just memorizing a glossary, as has been suggested about certain other ‘Certification’ courses. Most likely I aim for the one in July as that would coincide with my vacation. I’ll just have to go through the course plan again to see how much time is suggested as I will be away a few days for the Molde International Jazz Festival. I’m pretty sure it wont be a problem though. I really hope I get that one down.

Attempting to integrating the new gems of wisdom into my work as they are picked up is of course a given, but not always that easy. Thats where the explain/discuss skill and deep knowledge would come in handy. I gotta work on that and keep studying.

My immediate reading list consist of the following books:

  • Beautiful Testing
  • The Black Swan
  • Lessons Learned in Software Testing
  • Pomodoro Technique Illustrated
  • Everyday Scripting with Ruby
  • The Element
  • An introduction to General Systems Thinking
  • … and a couple of books on photography

I guess I have something to do for the next couple of months 😛

3 Responses to The reeducation of a lousy tester

  1. Markus says:

    Hey Geir,
    this is a problem experienced testers face as well as new ones (that would include me).
    If you like “enjoy jumping around a bit” I think that’s fine. I did the same with some of the blogs in your blogroll, softwaretestingclub.com and books (btw. you should add “Testing Computer Software” by Cem Kaner to the list).

    Structuring the approach might help or hamper your learning, though (compare “Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar” by James Bach).

    I stayed with the unstructured way (“Lessons learned” is a great book for that).

    [Geir] Thanks Markus, Cem Kaners book is on my list too, maybe I should move it up. I have read James’ book and that was certainly an interresting approach. Also, I think “Pragmatic Thinking & Learning” by Andy Hunt is a good one when it comes to understanding how your mind works.

  2. Devon Smith says:

    “Lessons Learned” is a great book and a great place to start.
    Next on my list is Agile Testing by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory.

    Good Luck! I hope to hear how you like the reading.

    [Geir] Hi Devon. Thanks for the comment. I actually have Agile Testing on my shelf too. So many books, so little time 🙂
    The plan is to write some sort of review of the books I read.
    Right now I’m mainly reading Beautiful Testing and The Element. I think I will add a page or two from Lessons Learned inbetween to break things up a little.

  3. A good start of your blog, Geir!

    What I always preach to starters is reading OnGoing Revolution of Software Testing, by Cem Kaner. I wrote an article about “Where do you go with testing” or something like it where I basically list thigs that will rattle your ground.

    What I’ve seen give me the most recently is looking at other areas outside the testing sphere. For instance, Rikard Edgren is currently digging into Ground Theory. I am looking backwards towards Economic History on Taylor and Keyens. By looking at these areas you might come up with new ideas for testing that others have not thought about.

    BR,
    Martin

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