How do you support the professional development of others?

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Tessa Benzie

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May 12, 2014, 10:45:45 PM5/12/14
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Hey All

Further to my last post asking for interview questions, after now completing some of these interviews I am struck by the fact that there are testers out there (good ones from what I can tell) that are deeply ingrained in one view of the testing world.

We recently interviewed a candidate who is ISTQB qualified to advanced level, who reads Rex Black's books as if they were the only authority on testing and who has never heard the name James Bach or the phrase "context driven testing". This person has been testing for more than six years.

From what I could glean from the interview this person is good at what they do in the environment in which they do it, but I can't help but feel they're not reaching their full potential.

I wanted to sit down with them and lead them to the world of software testing outside of what they currently know. At the very least I'm thinking I'll be sending an email with a couple of links for them to follow.

It would be easy to argue that if someone is not interested in researching a subject themselves then they are beyond help but it is also true that you don't know what you don't know, and that once introduced to a new way of thinking that person may run with it. Isn't it important for us to share our knowledge for the betterment of the craft?

My question to you all is, in what ways have you taken the time to help strangers on their testing journey? 

What would you do in that situation? This person may or may not get a job with us, that is still undecided. I won't be contacting them until the successful candidate is decided.

I'm curious about your thoughts on this, fellow thought leaders :-)

Tessa

Sharon Robson

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May 12, 2014, 10:57:50 PM5/12/14
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Share the knowledge and links! Spreading the learning and opportunities for learning is one of the best things any of us can do. Sharing and displaying an open mind, eagerness for other knowledge and focus on expansion is what thought leaders should be doing.

 

My 2 cents

Cheers

Sharon

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Oliver Erlewein

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May 12, 2014, 11:03:55 PM5/12/14
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Hi Tessa,

I currently am not interviewing people but when I still did regularly there was one thing I did get quite a bit. People would come out of the interview, shake my hand saying "Thanks, you have taught me a lot". And this is from a job interview! What I do tend to do (and I think you do the same) is not only ask the people questions but then also tell them the answer, what I was looking for and why. Also inserting the key information on where to start the journey of learning. 

It does mean they failed the interview but it gives them all the material they need to look at to have a fair chance getting it right should they apply again (and I do tend to encourage them to apply again when they think they are ready). 

I do not tend to do this with managers and senior roles if people have spent more than a decade in testing. They should know by then and even if not I probably won't be able to impart anything in an interview. 

And I probably don't need to say that you should also hire people that have not heard of the whole testing world but aced your questions anyway. Those are the uncut diamonds that you can really get a return on. They will take to it like a fish in water and will be a good tester in no time. Had a few of those come through and they have all become great testers.

I think there is enough easy to find info on the net (and in extension of that in books) for people to find anything they could ever need. They just need to want to do it. Our task is to create awareness. As above I do that in interviews, when I do conferences, when I am talking to other testers, mentoring, ... 

So far there is only a small percentage that actually capitalises from the primary prod but it's steadily getting more. I am not a fan of the indoctrination methods of ISTQB & Co. I think people should want to learn and to become better in their profession. If they lack that then, as you said, our effort can (and should) be better expended elsewhere.

I think you're probably already doing much of the above so it might not be the thing you were looking for but maybe we can put a page together with links and "prods" that can be a starting point. Happy to publish under http://hellotestworld.com . I'll talk to "the guys" and see what we can come up with.

Cheers Oliver


Richard Robinson

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May 12, 2014, 11:16:08 PM5/12/14
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Usually, I find one applicable and topical blog post or article from Bach or Bolton for a tester like this to read. If that strikes a chord, then I will list a few blogsites that may be of interest. I would also play the dice game or some type of 'out of the box' thought challenge with them to get some more buy in to the wise ways of critical thinking and application in testing.

Afterwhich, I lead them to AST and BBST, Conferences such as Lets Test Oz and CAST, Meetups such as Sydney Testers, and Weekendtesters.

Their level of participation usually wanes at this point and they tell me they have a family to feed, and the job is more important than the community.

But I tried.... I am happy to spend time on anyone willing to do the same.

Rich

Andrew Robins

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May 13, 2014, 12:34:45 AM5/13/14
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Hi Tessa,

Much of what I do is internally focussed.

 - I run testing workshops once a month on different topics
 - A couple of teams run testing innovation forums which I get invited along to reasonably often
 - Everybody gets 4 hrs a week development time
 - We put people through BBSWTC if they show any interest in doing this
 - We have testing learning centre where people share resources
 - Once every couple of years, we get James Bach to visit the company

Outward facing stuff is limited to article writing, presentations to students and local stuff with the TPN.

Cheers

Andrew
Test Manager, Tait Radio Communications


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James Hailstone

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May 13, 2014, 3:00:43 AM5/13/14
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Hi Tessa,


I've found everyone has experience of loose or no requirements - under some testing regimes this would be seen as a total empasse. E.g Stop testing we can't do our job!

This is where critical thinking scenarios (such as how we deal with loose requirements) and context driven thought processes can kick in for newbies as its an established project wide problem with no prescribed fix or solution.

In this case coaching people to understand that when they've been up against time pressure constraints to deliver results (whether by project deadline or PM) that they are able to execute testing that covered what the project needed at the time is ok.

I would consider these 'sane' tests - which may start to overlap into what is typically the 'weaker' BA camp due to poor requirements and understanding of the system; as long as assumptions are documented and approved with PM support, then everyone should be happy. It then becomes a question of stability of solution vs new "improved" business requirements - a separate risk discussion @ PM level. We just learn to react to this and apply the above critical thinking + context driven processes and repeat.. :)

Ultimately I've found that adhoc excel spreadsheets created in the context where traceability to requirements is unachievable, are sufficient to document my testing or my team's testing and have delivered the best results.

Hope this helps!

All the best

James

Tessa Benzie

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Jun 2, 2014, 7:30:05 PM6/2/14
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@Oliver - I think it would be a great idea to publish a page of links and "prods". Let me know if you want my input to pursue this although I'm sure you've got many resources at your fingertips who can help you anyway. I look forward to seeing something at hellotestworld!

Tessa

Nicola Owen

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Jun 22, 2014, 7:30:14 PM6/22/14
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My question to you all is, in what ways have you taken the time to help strangers on their testing journey? 
I'm not sure if this counts, but I post comments etc on their blog posts (assuming they blog). I compliment them on the things I like and question the things I disagree with or am unsure of.
Also, I took part in the BBST Foundations course which was heavily discussion/feedback focused. I received a lot of helpful feedback in that course, and provided a lot of helpful feedback to others.

What would you do in that situation? This person may or may not get a job with us, that is still undecided. I won't be contacting them until the successful candidate is decided.
I would bring up Context Driven Testing with them and try to open up a discussion. To be honest, I have no problem with people who prefer to do test cases and read ISTQB books. I do however, have a problem who are not willing to listen to the viewpoints of others.

srinivas kadiyala

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Jun 28, 2014, 1:27:21 AM6/28/14
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Sharing the links and notes .. doesnt mean - they will read it!

They must have real passion to read it, and spend time learning. 

srinivas kadiyala

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Jun 28, 2014, 1:36:26 AM6/28/14
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Great work..Andrew,

What is BBSWTC ?
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srinivas kadiyala

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Jun 28, 2014, 1:49:56 AM6/28/14
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You are correct nicola,

I have started my career as a lone tester, but before i started - i have done a ground work , how the testing industry is evolved in different communities, how to reach for help - what if i dont know.

I started asking questions on various forums.

After i get a clear answer from many people, I tend to write a blogpost - so that it can be easy for me to refer back / others to link out ...

Andrew Robins

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Jun 29, 2014, 10:41:48 PM6/29/14
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Hi Srinvas,

BBSWTC is the Black Box Software Testing course that Nicola was referring to.

It is well worth doing, in ,y experience.

Cheers


Andrew


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srinivas kadiyala

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Jul 18, 2014, 9:24:51 AM7/18/14
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Thanks Andrew. 
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