Sunday, January 30, 2011

Two versions of being practical...

My boss tells me always that my ideas about testing are impractical and esoteric. I find it hard to understand why he thinks so. I believe my testing and automation ideas are as practical as one can get because I can demonstrate the practicality of the ideas by "doing" testing or automation. I suppose being practical - should be mean "demonstrable". I can show how my ideas of testing can be and are practical. Boss is not impressed.

Probably, my boss has another version of practicality. It goes something like this. Regardless of what subject matter or technicality of testing as it is practiced in real time - there is a social, political, business side to it. Many things that testing practitioner believes to be true are not possible in real world due to political and non technical aspects around testing. Under such situations - being practical means changing your testing philosophy and approach to suite the context of the testing world. Harsh word for such adaptability could be "compromise". If you are surprised or questioned instances like stakeholder seeking quick benefits of automation (something that reduces cost of testing), counting bugs, counting requirements, using bug metrics to measure testers, expecting testers to find all bugs, doing 100% testing - you probably are practical in another sense.

Living with many irrational notions about testing and trying to do what is possible, taking the world as it comes without challenging it or fighting the problems is the version of practicality - probably my boss believes.

Both of us could be right or wrong. How do I know?

This reminds of me of a Jerry Weinberg's saying (para phrase) - "Instead of calling something as irrational or illogical - consider it as rational or logical from another perspective or set of values".

You would like to call "testing" as an engineering pursuit? Wrong... it is becoming (it was from the beginning but now it is showing up more clearly) more social. Testing works in social systems and is affected by cultural, emotional, economical issues.

Time to start studying economics, social science to reason behavior of people in testing context. It is not rational at all times....



Raj Ahuja said...

Hi Shrinik,

Having known you by your blog posts and one interaction at Testing conference I know that you are a very thoughtful test professional. However, metrics drive the world and this blogpost gives me an impression that you are know finding yourself engulfed with requirements of testing delieverables/metrics which may not be practical according to your version but that of your boss. I have faced similar situation earlier and if you can recall we had a good discussion around one such measurement problem in the past. Not sure if you have any new pointers of measurement at this stage of your career. The link to the earlier discussion is here:

Shrini Kulkarni said...


This post is not specifically about measurements (although it covers some of it). I wondered how "simple" enough word such as "practical" has at least two meanings.

I think I am practical since I know "practically" what is possible and I tune my testing (not measurement of it) to the needs of my stakeholders.

But my boss thinks - I am not practical as I tend to question some things that I find problematic and have problems in adjusting my urge to implement "change". That is his idea of practicality.

We both use the same term but in different sense.

At this stage of my career - measurements - mostly qualitative.
Given a problem (a problem) - how well and how deep I solve it.

Probably this idea requires a separate post....

thanks for posting Raj.