Five Testing Questions with Jerry Weinberg

There are questions that I am constantly asking myself regarding testing and QA.  What value do we provide to our Organizations?  How can we be better testers?  How will the future of testing look like? etc.

If you’ve read some of my posts you will certainly be no stranger to these questions or to my point of view on them.

Some time ago I thought that it would be interesting to ask other testers what they thought about these questions.  And then I thought that it would be even better if I could ask not “any other tester”, but the one tester that is in my opinion one of the top contributors to the testing world (or the software development world for that matter), Mr. Jerry Wienberg.

The amazing fact is that when I asked Jerry if he would be willing to answer my questions he answered that he’d be happy to.

So here are the five testing questions I asked Jerry Weinberg and his insightful answers to them.

About Jerry

I am not sure Jerry Weinberg really needs to be introduced, but just in case you have been living in a cave and have never heard of him, I think that the best way to start an introduction of Jerry is to say that he is a special kind of person, a “people changing person”. Jerry has the incredible gift of, in his own words, “make you aware of the things you were not aware of” and thus change the way you look at things and the way you approach tasks.

On a personal note I had the pleasure of meeting Jerry once some four years ago at a CAST conference in Colorado Springs. From my first interaction with him I was blown away at how, with his down-to-earth approach and his always candid comments and tales, he could motivate and invigorate any person he was talking to at that moment, regardless if this persons was a world-renowned QA expert or a Jr. tester.

As part of the protocol I will list a couple of numbers and facts about Jerry:
– He was awarded the first ever Software Test Luminary Award back in 2010.
– He has written over 80 books and hundreds or articles.
– Between 1959 and 1963 he was the Manager of Operating Systems Developing in the Project Mercury.
– Since the 1970’s he’s been a consultant and is world known for his leadership workshops.

If you want to learn more about Jerry and how he has influenced the people around him you should read the book “The Gift of Time”, a collection of essays in honor of Jerry’s 75th birthday, edited by Fiona Charles and with contributions by James Bach, Michael Bolton, Esther Derby, Johanna Rothman, Jonathan Kohl, and other stars.

Finally, to get a quick taste of Jerry, and a more complete introduction on his work I invite you to check this short video in YouTube of his Luminary Award Acceptance Speech.

Five Testing Questions

1) What is the role of testing in today’s “typical” development process or organization?

It’s hard to answer this, because I don’t see a “typical” development process or organization. So, I’ll answer for the “best” development organizations I work with–maybe 5-10% of all development organizations (excluding the orgs that develop the hundeds of thousands of game apps).

In those best organizations, testing is involved in the development process from the very conception of a project. They show the other project teams what might be hard (impossible) to test and help develop test approaches in advance of any building of code. All through the process, they inform the project leads where the risks are lurking. That’s it, at a high level.

At the other end, those hundreds of thousands of games and trivial apps, I don’t have much contact except for the results of their work. Based on my experience as a user, my best guess is that these orgs have no testing at all, at least nothing effective.

2) Which are the most important traits a tester should have (or should develop) in order to succeed today?

Courage, communication skill, self esteem.

3) There have been a number of publications, talks and twitter threads lately about the possibility that testing is in fact a “Dying Profession”.  Do you agree with this statement?

That’s just a dumb slogan.
Testing has barely been born yet. As IT matures, so will testing. Without testing, IT will never mature.

4) Looking back at your successful professional career, can you point to 2 or 3 milestones (or people) that made you the testing professional you are today?

a. Working with Bernie Dimsdale (and thus indirectly with his mentor, John von Neumann).

b. Learning to be fluent in a second language.

c. Being a participant-observer with literally dozens of IT projects.

5) What would be your most important piece of advice to a beginner tester today?

Never lie, and never pay attention to those who say stupid things like “Testing is dying.”

Thanks to Jerry!

I wanted to thank Jerry for taking the time to answer these questions and for giving us more tools (both direct and indirect) to become better testers and increase the value we provide to our organizations.

You can read more about Jerry, his writings and all his extensive work, from his site – http://www.geraldmweinberg.com

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