Where do I go from here?

In two months to this day, I will be giving my tutorial on Career Management for Software Testers at CAST 2011, in Seattle, USA.

Any self respecting software tester has asked themselves at least once in their career. “Where am I going with all this?” or “Is this role really where I want to be for the next x number of years”?

If you look around, its traditional* to think of a software testing career path as follows:

[quote style=”boxed”]At entry level as a Tester, you’ll primarily be performing test execution and acquiring niche skills to ensure systems meet performance standards required by the business and end-user.
Progressing to Test Analyst and then on to Senior Test Analyst, you’ll work on more complex scenarios, become involved in requirements analysis and test case design as well as execution. As a Test Analyst you’ll also be able to become involved in the specialist areas of Test Automation and Performance and as a Senior Test Analyst you’ll start taking responsibility for junior staff.  [/quote]

I think that’s a real shame that the role of  Test Manager is considered the pinnacle of your career. Why is it that in order to advance your career you have to be seen to me leading people?

So, I want to show testers that there are other career paths. In my tutorial we’re going to take a look at some of the typical roles testers in testing;  That of a tester specialist, a test manager and a test consultant.

But you won’t have to listen to me share about it, I got some fantastic software testers who have agreed to come in a share their own personal experiences. Karen Johnson (Test Consultant), Fiona Charles (Test Manager) and Markus Gärtner (Software Tester) will be available to discuss the pro’s and cons of their respective roles and understand what skillset you may need to get perform these roles.

I’m looking forward to giving this tutorial. Why not join me at CAST 2011? There are still some spots available.

*sourced from Planit website

reinventing the wheel

I liken my experience of creating an Exploratory Testing workshop as similar to recreating the wheel. It would be easy to copy someone else’s version of a wheel, after all there are a lot of great wheels out there. Alternatively, I could create my own wheel.

But how do I do that? How do you improve on the wheel?

My feelings about holding such a workshop range from massive excitement to extreme anxiety as I grapple will the question, “What the hell am I going to talk about”?

I’m not talking about the content, there as been plenty written on Exploratory Testing and I could spend weeks just reading up on other peoples articles, notes etc. If I wanted to, I could re-regurgitate lots of excellent material on the subject. But I have a problem with that approach. In fact I have two problems (maybe even three if you take into account the massive attack of self doubt I had this morning!)  with that approach.

The first one is this.

How do you teach Exploratory Testing? As James Bach writes in his article Exploratory Testing Explained and something I WHOLEHEARTEDLY concur with (through bitter experience!) is that:

Among the hardest things to explain is something that everyone already knows. We all know how to listen, how to read, how to think, and how to tell anecdotes about the events in our lives. As adults, we do these things everyday. Yet the level of any of these skills, possessed by the average person, may not be adequate for certain special situations. Psychotherapists must be expert listeners and lawyers expert readers; research scientists must scour their thinking for errors and journalists report stories that transcend parlor anecdote.

So it is with exploratory testing (ET)

The second problem I have is that

If the workshop is going to be any good, I know it has to come from the heart, my heart.

So even if I was tempted to say take James Bach’s course and deliver it (anyone who takes his course has this permission, as long as credit is given) it would be pointless.  Because I know it has to be my story, what my understanding of ET is, not anyone else’s. Its one of the reasons why James’s course is so damn good. His conviction comes through because its HIS story.

As an exercise, creating an ET workshop is a great challenge. It demands the ultimate in story telling. There is nothing better to confirm/challenge your beliefs and/or understanding than to articulate it in front of a class.

There is also nothing more humbling. It makes you realise how much I have still to learn. As part of my effort in creating this course I’m reviewing  familiar documentation again. In particular James’s RST slides.Looking at these slides in a critical way has been very beneficial. Its made me question my depth of understanding of some of its content.

Its been a good morning though. I’ve made some baby steps and have got some ideas that I feel I can call my own.

I know that the workshop is to be practical, and I have a few ideas in mind on that. The challenge is to use the exercises to teach an ET point.

What the workshop(or the wheel) will end up looking like, I’m not yet too sure. One thing I do know is that as time evolves it will become more and more my own story and yes, my wheel.