As I start a new chapter of my career with 2i Testing, I have set myself a new goal to achieve - to become a more seasoned and steadfast testing practitioner. Freshly out of the experience of attending UK Star 2018, I am taking a cue from the legendary Dorothy Graham’s session titled 3 C’s of Testing.
Here’s my own list of 10 C’s - attributes I want to develop towards reaching the next phase in my career:
To establish oneself in any career it is most important to be a master of the trade.
This involves being in touch with the latest trends in technology, the business domain of interest to us and the immediate testing industry too. It is important to read, observe and speak about topics of relevance to our work.
Developing my craft, being effective at it and being at ease in delivering with it is one of my top goals for the upcoming phase. Be it formulating a robust testing framework, bringing together a well-tailored testing solution for a client or providing the direction for quality assurance activities in a complex technical/business set up, I want to come across as a proficient and credible testing professional.
Another important element is competitiveness – to come up with solutions which give a competitive advantage is important in a commercially driven environment, while in a public sector environment ensuring good service/reach to the public is crucial. Inefficient and out-dated solutions will not benefit the environment we serve.
Using effective tools like data analytics, running workshops or user research activities can provide great insight into developing competitive solutions, which is a part of evolving into a competent test practitioner.
A quality that has been eternally associated with testing but I am looking at it from a perspective of how it should become second nature for this phase of a tester’s career.
It should be at a level which overcomes the everyday cynicism and lethargy that we all feel sometimes in our jobs “oh it is the same old system”, “the framework is so rigid”, “I have done this for too long” etc.
I believe, we all go through it at some point in our careers and it is only human to go through such phases but I believe it is curiosity that can pull us out of the drudgery. The approach needs to be perhaps on the lines of “oh, this is a part of the system I had never explored before”, “I wonder how the technology behind this works“, “can I speak to the person who put the framework together to understand what the thinking behind it is, maybe there is room for improvement” or "can I bring about a change".
To develop a constant quest for knowledge will be a highly essential quality for this phase.
To hold it together in the face of adversity and failure is certainly a mark of a good practitioner.
How we carry ourselves particularly when things don’t go to plan, proves the mettle of any individual.
When we get a feeling that someone is ‘letting us down’ it is worth a bit of an investigation - are they really veering off or is it just a perception? Is there a reason? Maybe the expectations were wrong? There is bound to be a reason that has led to a disappointment.
So, here’s another hidden C to think about - Consideration - to others and to ourselves. To be considerate to our fellow team members, our managers and to ourselves is an important trait to develop. To not let a blame-game approach take over our lives and a project is essential for the general well-being of any individual or team.
A good tool to achieve this can be the 5 Why analysis devised by lean methodology. To not reach a burn out phase or not getting too caught up with our own emotions is also a key and hence to not wear ourselves out, it is crucial to be kind to ourselves. This also involves approaching any conflict with a neutral, non-biased and unprejudiced thought process.
Who could possibly deny the value that fresh ideas could bring to any work place? But how do we get creative?
It is important to understand what brings out the creative best in us. To some, listening/hearing/interacting others can be that trigger. To some, the creative energy gets prompted through quiet introspection. We are all different in how we think and function. There are a multitude of ways to invoke that side of ourselves and it is worth gaining an understanding about the factors which drive our creativity.
To reflect faith in ourselves and conviction in the solutions we offer is absolutely essential.
This stems from the strong foundation of our knowledge of the subject matter. The more self-assured we are, the better our ideas come across and hence evoke more trust in the people we offer our thoughts to. It is important to invest time in developing presentation skills and work on the art of engaging people in meaningful conversations which is also a way to increase people’s confidence in us and our own confidence levels.
I am sure we all unanimously agree what a minefield this can be!
To me it is a never-ending endeavour to fine tune my expression as well as my listening skills. Through written format, verbal or our body language - we are all constantly communicating with the world. Listening to our end users is an important step towards developing empathy which is one of the key ingredients of testing.
To be able to ‘read people’ is another invaluable skill as the biggest component of interpersonal communication is non-verbal. Agile principles highlight the importance of communication. Undoubtedly, miscommunication is one of the most common reasons for failure and rifts within teams. Better outcomes are achieved in an environment where communication is well managed, encouraged and valued. Also for an individual, being able to communicate in a clear and concise manner is a real strength to have, more so for a practitioner role.
Some of the best outcomes (technical or business) are achieved in environments where individuals and teams are collaborating well.
A practitioner should have an appreciation of this idea and hence an open-minded outlook to be able to engage with any other part of an organisation, system or business process. Fully appreciating how testing is a piece of the jigsaw in any IT delivery process is again a key part of this stage.
To ensure being well connected to other parts of the delivery mechanism and hence work in a manner which ensures good use of resources and time of a project team is always appreciated. The pragmatism to see how different functions come together and where testing plays the role is quite important. This is essential in delivering more innovative solutions too. Collaboration with business users or similar functions would be of primary importance to any tester but more so a practitioner is expected to have a good understanding of the bigger picture and hence liaise with all relevant functions effectively.
To be able to objectively review a given business requirement, a technical implementation or a project set up and to offer opinions, insights and suggestions is naturally expected of a practitioner.
This is one of the main reasons a practitioner is usually brought on board. To have a good understanding of the soul of testing as a practice and to be able to articulate it well and deliver in a way that addresses a business problem is the crux of the role. In many environments this might also mean being an advocate for testing and working in the interest of testing practices. It is important to demonstrate a methodical, analytical and practical approach in thought process. And in terms of attitude, respect for all stakeholders/colleagues, approachable nature and calm temperament is perhaps the default expectation.
To achieve clarity in analysis and thinking is a sign of a matured professional.
Most real-life systems that we deal with are immensely complex and often leave even seasoned professionals baffled! To be able to breakdown a complex system, requirement or an existing setup into an easy-to-understand format is a great skill to have.
Practitioners are often expected to be able to work through complicated information (that could be quite dated sometimes!) or an undocumented system and come up with a simplified version which can be understood by everyone, particularly from non-technical backgrounds (like business representatives).
Some people are naturally good at processing complex information but for some, tools and techniques are essential to get through something complicated. One of the top tools to achieve, establish and communicate this clarity of understanding is Mind Map.
Being undaunted by complexity is a vital quality which perhaps comes with experience but achieving clarity requires consciously developing a meticulous nature
All of the above attributes without consistency are worthless.
The expectation from a seasoned professional is that they reflect good attributes all along, as opposed to inconsistent spikes. To lead by example and 'practice what we preach' is key to this idea. To take any idea to completion and to follow up on it throughout its span of relevance is all the more important at the level of a practitioner
The people I look up to, admire and see as role models embody these values. I aspire to attain that outlook. Here’s hoping that I enjoy that journey of becoming an experienced practitioner. I also hope that my 10 (and half!) C’s have resonated with the readers of this blog! I would be very happy to know more attributes to go on this list, which can start with the alphabet!