Isn’t it better to try and change something than settle for mediocre?

At EuroSTAR last week it was sad to see a “them versus us” culture still thriving in the software development community. I thought things were changing, especially with the on-set of Agile heading mainstream but it seems not.


I got embroiled in a conversation which stole an hour of my life. An hour in which I heard the virtues of “them versus us”. An hour in which this “Test Manager” extolled the positives around an “Independent” test team, who “distrusted” everyone and treated programmers with “contempt”.

It boosted Testers morales apparently. It made the team function as it should; as a separate, impartial and hated department. A department who would ruin projects. But it was never the Test Manager (or teams fault), it was the project teams or management.


I got the following vibe:


The Testers were frightened of the Management.
The Management didn’t like the Programmers or the Project Team, though they could live with the Testers.
The Programmers were indifferent to the Project Team but were terrified of the Testers and hated the Management.
The Management were seriously affected by the Programmers terror of the Testers.
The Project Team were nervous of the possibility of a Management – Tester alliance, spurred on by the indifference of the Programmers, and they shared everybody else’s dislike of the Management.
Or something like that.

Releasing software seemed to be a constant struggle for this chap. Testing was always an after-thought.


This was a scarily common theme and the blame was always put on other people.


Is change that difficult?

Isn’t it better to try and change something (relationships, approach, team, people, environment, structure, etc), than settle for mediocre? What are your thoughts?

Standards emerge. People will experiment. Will I see this trend at EuroSTAR?

One of the observations I’m seeing a lot in the Testing community is the desire and passion to experiment with ideas. This is not new, there have always been people exploring and experimenting with ideas, from test case production to test reporting.


But it feels to me like it’s becoming more mainstream to experiment; this could be the knock on effect of people moving to agile ways of working, but I suspect it’s because the old standards and best practices weren’t/aren’t working for people anymore. 


As companies and teams strive to deliver greater value, exceptional service levels and game changing products they are also striving to do this delivery in ways that work best for themselves.


It’s no longer acceptable to apply a “standard” or “Best Practice” to your work. Work is becoming diverse, information based, lead by ideas and innovation; as such there’s few formulaic ways of solving problems.


Instead teams are experimenting, finding what works for their context and pushing the boundaries of what has been done before. It feels good to be writing about this. It feels good to be part of Software Testing right now as we strive to find out why we are drawn to testing, why it’s becoming increasingly popular and why the nature of testing is changing.


I’ll be at EuroSTAR this week with a specific lense on my views. I’ll be seeking out new tools, techniques and approaches. I’ll be chatting to people who are pushing the boundaries and doing new and interesting things. I’ll be looking to expand my views on Testing and looking at how other people are solving hard testing problems.


So if you’re at EuroSTAR this week and fancy chatting about what you’re doing..I’m all ears. 


I believe people are settling down in to their own way of working and letting their own standards emerge. This takes time, patience, a keen eye for details, an environment for rapid change and a willingness to admit when things aren’t going well or when ideas didn’t work.


It sounds like a growing number of people aren’t pushing for standards too quickly (if at all) or looking to set hard and fast rules of standardisation. And this feels positive.


I’ll no doubt write about some of the cool stuff I’ll see at EuroSTAR 2011. It looks like a really good lineup.