Testing the Limits With Elisabeth Hendrickson – Part II

In part II of our interview with Elisabeth Hendrickson (aka @TestObsessed), we discuss the influence of her testing colleagues; the difference between a great SCRUM master and terrible SCRUM master; the lack of women in software testing; her secret talents and more. If you missed our previous segment, you can read part I here.

uTest: As a frequent guest on the speaker circuit, you’ve crossed paths with many smart people in testing. How has the “collective brain” helped you throughout your career? Care to mention anyone in specific?

EH: I’m immensely grateful to our community for their openness and generosity in sharing ideas and knowledge. I cherish the conversations with folks whether we’re meeting up in person at events or virtually through discussion lists, Twitter, etc.

And yes, there have been several people to whom I am particularly grateful for inspiring, encouraging, and challenging me. Cem Kaner taught me a huge amount and encouraged me at every turn. James Bach challenged me and in doing so forced me to hold myself to a higher standard. Karl Wiegers was astoundingly generous in sharing his lessons learned as a consultant when I was getting started. Tim Lister inspired me when he asked me “Why are your pants on fire?” at a key moment in my career. Jerry Weinberg taught me more than I can express. I could go on. Just thinking about people with whom I’ve enjoyed discussing and collaborating brings more faces to mind: Dale Emery, Lisa Crispin, Janet Gregory, Jennitta Andrea, Jon Bach, Bret Pettichord, Fiona Charles, Karen Johnson, Harry Robinson, Pradeep Soundarajan, and others. I feel blessed to be a part of such a fabulous community of people.

uTest: What characteristics or traits make for a truly great SCRUM master? What about a truly terrible SCRUM master? It seems like the type of role that is not suited for everyone.

EH: Good Scrum Masters I’ve seen give the team lots of room to be self-directing. Yes, Scrum Masters guide their teams in adopting agile practices. They advise. They remove impediments. But the most important thing they do is to create space for the group to learn, grow, and ultimately succeed as a self-organized team. The best Scrum Masters have such a light touch that it’s difficult to see what they actually do. It’s like being a good facilitator. Good facilitators get out of the way and let the conversation happen, only intervening when it’s absolutely necessary. Similarly, good Scrum Masters get out of the way of progress, trusting the team to find a path forward.

On rare occasions I’ll see Scrum Masters who misunderstand their role and want to make the process all about them. They see their role as managing the team. They take a directive stance, assigning work to team members. They conduct the Daily Scrum as a daily status ceremony. People on teams run by such a Scrum Master often report that agile feels like a particularly bad form of micromanagement. That’s a sign that the Scrum Master is completely missing the power of self-organizing teams. In doing so, they systematically disempower the team members and prevent the team from reaching its full potential. The end result is generally a sad parody of real Scrum with none of the benefits.

uTest: We can’t help but notice the major discrepancy in the male-to-female ratio when it comes to testing (and dev too, for that matter). What are the major challenges and opportunities of being a woman in this space? What could change the direction of this trend?

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Picture Quiz: Should You Become A Software Tester?

We write frequently on the subject of what it takes to become a top tester – in both the uTest community and the industry as a whole. We ask the testing giants their thoughts on the matter (see quotes below) and publish guest posts and Crash Courses in an effort to help you become a better software tester.  Please hold your applause.

But what if software testing isn’t for you? What if after all the education, training and job-searching, you discovered that you really had no knack for the craft? Wouldn’t it have been nice to know that a little sooner? Lucky for you, I’ve designed this picture quiz as a humorous supplement to the Jung Career Indicator Test. Here’s how it works: If you don’t see anything wrong with these photos, then software testing is definitely NOT for you. Far from scientific, but hey, it’s a start.

Almost all of the best people I know in testing have significant experience in other fields. It’s common for people to move from testing to programming or writing or marketing and then back, bringing what they’ve learned with them, to test with a richer perspective and with a much more productive vision of where testing can fit within development/marketing/support cycles.” – Cem Kaner

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Testing the Limits With Ben Simo – Part II

In part II of our Testing the Limits interview with Ben Simo, we’ll discuss whether you should trust automated testing tools; the proliferation of testers on Twitter; the true meaning of “QA”; how testing evolves differently in each company; the long lost Bach brothers and much more. You can catch up on the conversation by reading part I. We’ll wrap things up tomorrow with part III.


uTest: Jon Bach mentioned that changing the meaning of “QA” to Quality Assistance would help outsiders (engineers, executives, et al) better understand the role of this discipline.  Agree or disagree?

Simo: I believe I first heard  “Quality Assistance”  from Cem Kaner.  I agree with Jon. When testers bear the title Quality Assurance, it often implies that they actually assure the quality of other people’s work. Testers are in a position to help assist quality; not assure it. Let’s not assist the setting of unrealistic expectations with inappropriate titles.

uTest: While we’re on the subject, are you anyway related to James and Jon Bach? The resemblance is uncanny.
Simo: I don’t think so. I’m available for adoption if the Bach family is interested. ;)

uTest: You’ve said that you frequently use automated tools, but that you don’t trust them entirely (back to that whole defensive pessimist thing again). What advice do you have for testers and managers wanting to strike a healthy balance? And what’s currently in your arsenal of automated tools?

Simo: My mistrust in tools is based on the fact that tools can’t think for me. Automated checking can only process whatever decision rules someone thought to program when the checks were created. Automation will consistently do what it is programmed to do and consistently not do what it is not explicitly programmed to do. I find test automation to be useful. In fact, there are some things I’d not want to even try to do manually. I do, however, distrust the green bar. When automated checking passes, I ask myself what the automation does not tell me. I also try to keep aware that people who don’t understand what the automation does are likely to assume that it does more than it does.

Tools are much more than test automation. Tools are essential for testing. I don’t want to test without tools. I have some old programming books that promote testing in which a programmer manually executes code, step-by-step, with pencil and paper in order verify that the code works as expected. This is manual testing. This is a testing practice that came from a time when computer time was rare and cost more than people. We’d now laugh at someone proposing testing in this manner.

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The Coming Shortage of Software Testers

Imagine a world where software testers are courted and wooed like LeBron James; where online job boards are littered with “Testers Wanted” posts and where everyone can finally spell “QA” correctly. In other words, imagine a world with a shortage of software testers…

“Nonsense!” you say. “There’s plenty of software testers to go around.” Not for long, says SiliconIndia, who posits that a shortage of skilled software testers is only a matter of time. Citing various facts, figures and estimates from a recent Gartner study, the author examines the reasons behind this coming tester drought.

Pradeep Chennavajhula explains:

This shortage is now a major concern for the IT service organizations, considering that the academia is not geared up to support the program, and many of the training organizations are not geared up to meet the demand of the industry. In this scenario, the question still remains as to how is the industry planning to tackle the shortage of software testers?

Good question. Of course, we’ve dealt with these issues many times before on The uTest Blog. Here are a few posts with some answers:

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Top 20 Software Testing Tweeps

According to Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Twitter now has 105,779,710 registered users—and is adding 300,000 new users a day. Attempting to weed through all of the fluff can be daunting! So, if you’re interested in jumping into the Twittersphere or are just looking to follow the leading journalists and thinkers in software testing today, check out our “Top 20 Software Testing Tweeps” list below (in no particular order)!

  1. James Bach – @jamesmarcusbach
  2. Michael Bolton – @michaelbolton
  3. Testing At The Edge Of Chaos (Matt Heusser) — @mheusser
  4. Tester Tested! (Pradeep Soundararajan) – @testertested
  5. StickyMinds.com (Better Software Mag) — @StickyMinds
  6. SearchSoftwareQuality.com (Yvette Francino) — @yvettef or @SoftwareTestTT
  7. Google Testing Blog (Copeland/Whittaker) – @copelandpatrick or @googletesting
  8. Testy Redhead (Lanette  Creamer) – @lanettecream
  9. Test Obsessed (Elizabeth Hendrickson) — @testobsessed
  10. SD Times — @sdtimes
  11. Jon Bach – @jbtestpilot
  12. Software Test & Performance Mag –- @STPCollab
  13. Software Testing Club (Rosie Sherry) — @rosiesherry or @testingclub
  14. Lisa Crispin — @lisacrispin
  15. Fred Beringer — @fredberinger
  16. uTest (shameless plug! ;-)) — @uTest
  17. Weekend Testing (Santhosh/Parimala/Ajay) – @weekendtesting or
  18. Santhosh Tuppad — @santhoshst
  19. Ajay Balamurugadas — @ajay184f
  20. Parimala Shankariah — @curioustester

Update! Thanks for everyone’s recommendations. Here are a few we missed: @sbarber, @QualityFrog, @dailytestingtip, @sdelesie, @Rob_Lambert, @chris_mcmahon, @hexawise, @marlenac, @shrinik, @sbharath1012, @sellib, @TestingNews.

Please feel free to add any active Tweeps you think we may have missed in the comments! We welcome your recommendations.

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