The reason I call these engineers “interesting” is because they constantly brought to the team all sorts of new stuff (technologies, methodologies, articles, tools, etc) that ended up making our work more effective and even more enjoyable.
This is one of the things I like most about PractiTest (the company I’m working in today). The team is aligned with the philosophy that experimenting with new stuff is not only fun; it is also the best way to improve our product, to fine-tune our methodology, and even to increase the effectiveness of our company.
Of course there are costs to this!
It starts with the fact that instead of working on a task that is part of your formal project plan (e.g. testing or developing some feature), you take this time to deliberately work on something that is not related to the product or to any of it’s milestones. This is not something easy to do in a culture where we are “running against the marketing clock” all the time!
You also need to take into account that many times (even half the times!) you will start experimenting with something that ends up providing no real value. And so in fact you are throwing away valuable time that you could have been investing in something more traditionally “useful”.
Sometimes you need to strike-out twice before hitting a grand slam!
It’s been a while since I watch a baseball game, but I remember someone once saying that “when you hit a grand slam in the eighth inning no one remembers that you stroke out twice before during the game”.
I think the comment should be even harsher than that, for example “in order to hit a grand slam you will need to strike-out a couple of times before during the game”.
Or in engineering therms: in order to find the things that will help us improve the work of the team you will need to waste time checking some other stuff that will not provide any real value.
Make it part of your professional philosophy to “waste time” exploring new things
And so my bottom line is that you should make it part of your professional culture to “waste time” and to take chances exploring new technologies, methodologies, tools and approaches that may improve the value of your work.
Don’t expect people to learn and look for things only during their free time (nights and weekends).
Take scheduled time aside, even from hard pressed projects, to learn and to explore.
Not only will this help you to keep your team motivated (giving people time to learn new things as part of their work is one of the best ways to keep the right employees motivated), but it will also provide you with the Grand Slams that will keep pushing your team forward.
Does your company encourage you to “waste time” exploring?
Please leave your comments telling us how and what have you achieved with this time!
Practitest is an end-to-end test management tool, that gives you control of the entire testing process - from manual testing to automated testing and CI.
Designed for testers by testers, PractiTest can be customized to your team's ever-changing needs.
With fast professional and methodological support, you can make the most of your time and release products quickly and successfully to meet your user’s needs.