Standing on the shoulders of common folk

schools of testing, testing, and small essay
a movie still from The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King, 2003
The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King, 2003

Meme - an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.

I found myself recently reviewing Lalitkumar’s QCSD (Quality Consious Software Development) framework. I noticed I was looking at a transcript of Lalit’s mental model. I reflected for a while on his observations of projects from the lens of quality and testing.

I told Lalit at the time:

I could almost draw parallels of the implicit models between this and my own framework

I could say the same of the models I observe from many fellow testers. You can see it translated into documents they write. You can feel it transpiring in their blog post writings. You can feel it in their tweets, live talks, and ideas shared around the web and by word-of-mouth.

Almost all frameworks share Similarities in the problem space. There’s a fingerprint.

There’s a story of how that person fought and adapted to their version of the problem space.

There are signals of how the person grew through successes and difficulties. You can spot when they reach a point where they have a framework (or a set of frameworks) that is pre-baked in their minds.

The difference is noticeable from a mile (or kilometer) away. Take a sample of testers and you will get some carry around this sort of self-crafted mental toolkit.

On the fact they have their own personal toolkit, rugged through trial and error, some will say:

It is the thing what makes these people excellent testers and craftsman in their fields.

This is the part where some folks would rise and spectacularly proclaim:

In this I see the mark of the creator!

Religious folks may explain this as a sign of the influence of their preferred deity.

Analytical folks would point to reflection of ideas, deep-diving into a metaphysics discussion. What we are experiencing is but a soup of original concepts replaced through time with parts. A ship of Theseus.

Humble folks will simplify the whole matter: look for these folks’s mentors.

The mentor tree

Most would point out to mentors the likes of: Michael Bolton, James Bach, Lisa Crispin, Elisabeth Hendrickson, …

If we look at this generation of mentors, we will spot a few things. Some disagree with each other and don’t see eye to eye on many subjects. Yet, all have the same mentors, in specific, Jerry Weinberg.

You’d think that the students of Jerry would ALL get along. That all would abide by a single ruling school of thought of software testing. Quite the opposite. Many mimic’ed disciples of a messiah arguing-like situations. They would quarrel over who got it right, fighting for attention for their own custom set of ideas.

Jerry Weinberg bears the marks of his own mentors: Virginia Satir, Anatol Rapoport, Myers and Briggs,… There are also the folks he worked with at IBM for Project Mercury. Plus the thousands of people he interacted with that shaped his life experiences.

Those mentors had mentors. And so on.

The funny or recurring bit, quarrels aside, is seeing it happen again for my own and newer generations. I look at myself or Lalit or even other craftsman, read, no-nonsense/no-bullshit expert testers like Patryk, Jokin, Maaike, Irja, Klára, and many more folks… All have traces of our mentors in our own frameworks. There are hints of our personal beliefs and values systems. There are artifacts of the projects and people we work with over time as well as the challenges we face over time.

The romantic in me feels the need to say: It’s almost as if we are all linked. Part of a collective conscience or an experiment without realizing it. It’s as if Software Testing’s most faithful form is the collection of all the different system models. Models of models, abstractions and simplifications.

The big divide

The above notion of a connection between different testers is very romantic. It’s also sidelining a dangerous recurring problem. You see, in our craft, many can proclaim:

We are those who truly care about Software Testing.

It stands then, by opposition, that through their actions or by decree of others, there are those… not caring enough of Software Testing. Some perhaps rightfully identified. Others caught in crossfire of “who cares the most” conflicts.

The raw observation: it’s all about folks (knowingly or not) set on rejecting ideals held by others.

If the above conflict didn’t exist at all, perhaps Software Testing craft would be in a much weirder state. Then, the Big Tech gurus that proclaimed “Testing was dead” years ago were on to something… besides prolonged drug abuse.

I would risk stating: for all the “wrong and evil” done by institutions like the ISTQB… they are accidentally forcing the hand of this Software Testing “body of conscience” to evolve and expand.

If you read this far, thank you. Feel free to reach out to me with comments, ideas, grammar errors, and suggestions via any of my social media. Until next time, stay safe, take care! If you are up for it, you can also buy me a coffee ☕