I was chatting with a friend, who also happens to be a PractiTest user from Down Under, about testing aptitudes and I found myself describing my general approach to testing as Optimistic-Skepticism.
I am not sure how I came to this definition, but the more I thought about it after our chat the more I understood that Optimism mixed with Skepticism is a trait I’ve like to see in a tester.
Why? Because it combines (IMHO) the two most important requirements of our profession. Let me explain.
Skepticism – A tester who is not a Skeptic cannot really be a good tester.
In our work we are constantly looking for flaws, mistakes and bugs in all possible places within the apps we test.
We need to be specially careful not to miss important stuff simply because they are in places that our developers told us “they didn’t touch”, or because these issues are not located in the main path of our users’ common behaviour.
I think that the best definition of this is given by the context-driven approach, where although you have a path or script you are looking to test, you will always look at the areas near (and not so near) this path to make sure nothing is hiding in places that may not be trivial to find.
Another reason to be skeptical is because most of the other people in our team who are not testers but also (directly or indirectly) perform tests, such as developer, product managers, etc., tend to do this from a positive perspective. They check that the system does what it needs to do, and so we are left with the responsibility of ensuring the system doesn’t do what it should not do (read, all the negative tests).
There are many other reasons why we need to be skeptics but I guess you catch my drift.
Optimism – you stay away from being seen as “The boy who cried wolf”
After reading all I wrote before, how can I still think a tester needs to be an Optimist?!
Well, if not we would end up being like Grumpy Dwarf or Grouchy Smurf… and I fail to see how these guys can actually be productive as part of any testing and development team.
As testers, although we approach the application with much skepticism, we still need maintain a positive attitude about the future outcome of the project itself.
We are “too deep” in the land of bugs, failed tests and delayed deliveries, and if on top of that we also have a pessimistic approach to the project we will not be able to do our work correctly – I mean “why bother?”.
We need to be positive, believing that the application we are testing will end up fulfilling the needs of our users, that the project will go out the door (eventually), and maybe most importantly that everyone in the team is doing his or her best to ensure their work is professional and that they are developing a high-quality product.
There is also the very important point of not becoming “the boy who cried wolf” in your project. As one of my R&D managers once told me in the past, “you need to be regarded as a positive person in order to be taken seriously when you communicate negative news”.
Think about it
I am sure it will also make sense to you…
And if not I will be love to hear what you have to say about it 🙂