A chance to take a look back

This weekend I realized my last post was almost 2 months ago, on July 4th.

This break from writing was not intentional and it was not really a break since I was really busy with tons of PractiTest work and some additional heavy-duty chores related to caring for 2 small children during their summer vacations.   But there was also a positive side to this pause since it gave me a chance to reflect on what I’ve written on the blog so far, the subjects I’ve covered and those I haven’t gotten to yet.

I did something interesting, using “wordle” (a very cool app!) I generated a word map of the blog’s content:

Word Cloud for the QABlog

It was no surprise that the word TESTING came so strong and central, but there were also some other words that took an important place and I want to take this chance to review them.

SHARE – Sharing is (almost) always positive, but in Software Development and specially in Agile Teams it becomes one of the biggest success or failure factors.
I am currently reading “Agile Testing” by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory and it covers this point broadly with many reasons why sharing and collaboration are two of the most important factors for succeeding in agile processes.  By the way, the book is a great read and I recommend it even to testers who are not part of Agile Teams.

TIME – If I had 3 wishes they would be happiness for my kids, world peace, and a 32 hour day!  Time is one of our most valuable assets and so we need to learn to manage it correctly.
But managing time is not enough, we also need to learn to respect it, both our time and that of our colleagues.  For me personally the biggest time waster is context switching. When I stop what I’m doing to read mails, answer IM’s or phone calls, or even when someone walks up to me to ask “just one small question” it takes me between 5 to 10 minutes to reach the level of concentration I was before the interrupt.  If you do this 2 or 3 times an hour you end up spending half the time just getting to restart your work.  Can you relate to this?

THINK – this is a big one!
Most of us don’t really think as much as we’d like to accept, we are mostly busy reacting to what is going on around us.
To really think we need to take a time-out, breath deeply for a couple of minutes and clear our heads from all the urgent things in order to focus on the important ones (notice that most times the urgent things are not necessarily the most important ones!).  When was the last time you did this??
Whenever we take the time to THINK we use our resources better by investing them on the tasks that are really needed.  It’s a shame we don’t get to do this more often…

DEVELOPERS – these guys and galls are our biggest allies, and yet they’re also the ones with whom we tend to be most in-conflict during our projects.
Our relationship with developers makes me think about the classic book “Men are from Mars & Women are from Venus” by John Grey.  In fact we need to understand that the issues between developers and testers are mainly linked to the fact that we are 2 different species (or at the least belong to 2 different cultures) and in order to communicate and work together we need to understand and respect the principles of the other side, what’s important for each of us, and how each one approaches problems and challenges in his own way.
The key lies in understanding & communicating with your colleagues- just like in all types of relationships.

PERSPECTIVE – one of my personal favorites and closely related to thinking.
When you are in the middle of the forest it becomes too hard to look at the trees.  Perspective allows us to take a new look at the issues we are working on and check for new and interesting stuff even in the places we’ve already visited multiple times before.
Gaining perspective is relatively easy, you just need to fully focus your attention on another subject for some time and then revisit your previous task.  Just by switching context you will be able to see things under a different light.
I use this all the time: when testing to make sure I really covered all the important scenarios; when trying to solve problems by looking for different approaches that may give a better result; and even when in I find myself arguing with a colleague when I take time-off to cool down and think about the stuff that is really important.  Give it a try, and tell me if it worked for you!

Lastly an interesting pairing of words that came out of the random image:
GOOD SCENARIOS – something I have not talked about much in the blog but a subject I think I will write about in the near future 🙂

I am hoping that now that summer vacations are reaching their end, and after having released some pretty amazing stuff in PractiTest that we were working on for a number of weeks, I will have some more time in my hands to continue posting more regularly…

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2 Responses to A chance to take a look back

  1. Yaniv August 30, 2010 at 7:17 pm #

    welcome back!
    Regarding the TIME, I think context switching is a work-killer (I totally agree with Jason Fried: http://bigthink.com/ideas/18522/). That's the reason I also think BB should be closed at work.. just a thought 🙂

  2. Joel Montvelisky August 31, 2010 at 2:36 pm #

    Thanks Yaniv, will take this into account…

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