Quality Culture

Culture is nothing more than group habit – it’s what people do every day. So in order to change a culture to one of a “quality” one, you must identify the behaviors that lead to good outcomes and encourage these throughout the organization

1% improvements

I first heard about the 1% approach when I read about the amazing success the British Cycling team had at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Before this time we’d only won a single Gold medal for about 70 years. Then, after some 1% work from the new head in charge, Sir Dave Brailsford, Britain won 10 gold medal in Beijing – and another 10 4 years later in London. And then he had the same impact on the cycling in the Tour de France.

So what did Sir Dave Brailsford do?

He, and his team studied three pillars of cycling; strategy; human performance; and continuous improvement. And they identified lots and lots of areas for tiny improvements. Each of these very tiny improvements, from rubbing alcohol on tires for better grip to testing which pillow gave the cyclists the best night’s sleep. All clocked up. Marginal Gains.

We often assume change should be one big whopping hit of change, but the reality is these tiny constant improvements over many areas all compound and adds together to create huge change.
Let’s look at this from a testing perspective, you could apply changes to any aspect of your world, from environment suitability, tester skill, communication between teams, clarity of requirements, tooling used etc.
Tiny changes, over time – add up


5 Whys

When things go wrong understand why they went wrong. Get to the root cause and understand the systemic failures that happened. It’s rarely a single thing that causes a failure or mistake to happen.

Asking why 5 times can often lead you to the root cause, but don’t ignore the failures at each stage of the ‘why’, that lead to the final impact. Each time you ask why and get an answer as to what went wrong, there is a chance to make your world better.

Sometimes, it’s a person who made the mistake. It’s not a witch hunt. It’s not a blame culture, at least it shouldn’t be. As before though, it’s rarely a mistake by a person that causes fall out – there are often system failures, processes and communication challenges that helped the failure happen. It’s hard to run these. Go and search for how to do them, and then run them for everything that goes wrong. And then fix the problems that lead to them.  Also, don’t forget, in most organizations people have no idea why things went well either. So run them for things that go well that were unexpected.

  • Testing is an activity, not a phase. On that note, Quality is a mindset and a priority, not an attribute to be measured
  • Testing can be done by anyone
  • Quality is more than lack of bugs. Testers can (need to?) influence testing at all levels – Don’t wait to get that job title, push the bar yourself. Yep – test the system and process you work in too.
  • The flip side of the coin – It is important to understand that each company needs a different level of stability and quality before they can release the product.
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