It’s time to grow up and ditch the security blanket

One of the hardest parts of working as a software tester is keeping on top of new technologies, techniques in testing and development and software testing tools.  I can sometimes feel quite intimidated at the amount of information that I need to absorb in order to keep on top of the game.

Gavin Davies writes about this feeling of intimidation in his post Software Development: Doing It Scared and how we naturally are tempted to retreat to a place of safety. As he points out though, it doesn’t get the job done.

He gives some tips on overcoming these feelings, I pass them on to you here:

1)      Cut it down to size.

If you have a task that’s overwhelming, cut it down to smaller manageable tasks. I like to set these tasks to dates as it helps keep me focused.

2)      Get Help.

There are lots of places where you can go and ask for help online (my personal favourite is the softwaretestingclub).  Try and keep your questions specific and put some context in the question to help those answering it.
One word of caution though, whilst there is no such thing as a dumb question, your question may have been already asked. Do everyone a favour and search first to see if your question has already been adequately answered.
Also, ask your colleagues and team members for help.

3)      Remember your existing skills.

Remind yourself that you are already skilled in some aspects of testing. Once you have learned your new technology/skill, you will be able to quickly ramp up and apply the new skill to what you already know.  It will get easier!

There’s a bit more on what not to do in the post, which is good reading. Gavin ends with this worthwhile point:

“Software can seem overwhelming. The more we learn, the more we realise how much there is to learn – more than one person can possibly know. As software developers, we will always face fresh challenges. Nevertheless, a life worth living will take you out of your comfort zone time and time again and positive thinking, teamwork, good practise and organisation can help tackle daunting tasks.”

Happy learning!

4 Comments

  1. “A life worth living will take you out of your comfort zone time and time again”

    Indeed. The only way to grow is to scare yourself now and again.

    This is related to the discussion we were having yesterday on Twitter. There’s a temptation for test managers to take refuge in the security of the “process”. The world might be changing, and the technology may be unrecognisable from when we were young, but understanding and following a well-established process gives us a transferrable skill.

    Well, yes, up to a point, but that point is very limited. If you rely on it to keep yourself employed you’re basically painting yourself into a corner from which there will ultimately be no escape.

    We need to accept that in a changing world, we need to change too. That’s scary, but it’s good. Testing would be deadly dull if nothing changed.

    We need to be clear headed enough to face up to the need to leave our comfort zone, change and adapt, but we also need the confidence to believe that we’ll cope. Why shouldn’t we believe that? The alternative is to believe that everyone else is better and more adaptable than us.

    Everyone is ultimately facing the same challenges. The differences between us are the extent to which we’re prepared to face up to that.

    Reply

    1. Brilliantly put and so much better when expressed in > 140 characters!

      I like you thoughts on test management. Most test managers I know are quite ambitious, which is why they ended up as TM’s, because they wanted to challenge themselves more. Its a pity that the only outlet they feel open to them is through ensuring a process is well implemented.

      Reply

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