Mary Mary Quite Contrary…

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

Its an old english rhyme that goes eons back. In fact, its actual meaning is disputed over time. Meaning change over time, don’t they? A bit like quality I guess.

Closer to today, in the early 1990’s people so enamoured with the concept of a *mobile* phone ignored the fact that half the time calls dropped out. After all, compared to a fixed line, the freedom was incomparable  so why not put up with being cut off through a tunnel?

Roll forward twenty years later, and Vodafone lost a plethora of customers due to call drops outs. Why? We as customers have changed our concept of quality. What people viewed as acceptable soon became intolerant.

Testers need to be aware of this. In particular when they focus on regression testing. Do your old tests actually add value? Have stakeholder opinions changed over time?

Testers also face a problem that Mary didn’t have to deal with. For Mary, everything was laid out in row, nicely lined up, easy to count.

But bugs don’t do that, do they? They grumpy, recalcitrant and downright impossible to find. Thats why we as testers can’t rely on the expected, the norm, the process. We need to be clever. We need to be sleuths. We are the Sherlock Holmes of the IT world, finding clues where no-one thought to look.  We need to think harder, deeper and broader than everyone else on the team. We need to catch the peices others haven’t thought of.

Here’s my 21st century version of the poem.

Mary Mary quite contrary
How does your garden grow
Until the testers have a look,
To be honest, I really don’t know.