"It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top."
Hunter S Thompson - The Great Shark Hunt
Agile 2009 - Simon Bennett and I presented this talk and I have to say, it went down quite well. It could have gone horribly wrong after all.
When we proposed this session we had quite a few comments (All visible in the above link I think) that "the hate" we were talking about didn’t exist. So when we presented and asked the room to vote, Green if you didn’t feel the hate red if you did ....
We got a LOT of red.
Which is just as well! If it had been all green we would have been letting people out early J
So - We see the hate, other people see it, Why is there so little information on it? The point of our talk was to investigate the reasons for this hate, see if there were clear reasons for it and see what the overall drivers were. This I think we achieved and I'll post some of the feedback here soon. Suffice to say what we got was quite positive.
We did get a few people turn up for a different session however - I believe they were looking for practical tools to make their testers (Or themselves) more agile. They wanted more direction which we didn’t give them but then that wasn’t the point of the presentation. And as Alistair Cockburn would say (Did say!) "That is a Shu question with a Ri answer"
I think it is probably a good topic for a whole other workshop (That I might consider for next year but hey, you will have to wait till next year to see if I do it)
The main thing I think we got from it is the environment your team and company creates for your testers has as much, if not more, impact on their ability to be agile than they themselves do. Treating people in a certain way in my experience will cause them to react in that manner.
Take teenagers, Where a shop decrees that all teenagers are shoplifters and a security guard must follow them around the teenagers will (In my opinion justifiably) think "Well - If you are going to treat me like a criminal anyway regardless if I steal or not then I may as well steal - You will treat me the same anyway"
If you don’t treat them all as criminals you will still get the odd thief (But you would have got that anyway) now though you won’t be actively encouraging the rest of them to behave that way
Your testers are no different! If you treat them as the last line of defence (Identified by the sentence "Why didn’t testing find this bug") they will take on a gatekeeper mentality
If you treat them as the sole people responsible for quality (Identified by the sentence "I’m finished it just needs to be tested now") then they will sit at the end and wait for you to throw the code over to them.
I could go on but basically I am saying until the environment permits your testers to be agile they simply can’t be, and many places won’t change the environment until the tester is agile.
So which really does come first? The chicken or the egg?
At the risk of sounding all Kanban and eastern mysticism ;-) you need to change both together, if that proves impossible change the environment first! You may have some short term testing difficulties while your testers attempt to maintain their to their old methods in an environment that is hostile to those behaviours but then again. You cant drive a car on water, and it’s quite difficult to be non agile in an environment that is hostile to those behaviours.
I'm not saying this will work for everyone but I suspect that, as in nature, if the environment is hostile to behaviours you want to minimise then those behaviours should die out by a process of natural selection.