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?

3 thoughts on “Isn’t it better to try and change something than settle for mediocre?

  1. I’d say change is difficult and hard work, which is why people don’t like it. The easy route is to not do anything different, or pretend to be working hard (but at the wrong thing) which is why most people do that…?Shame.The more I think about these different worlds that exist. People fighting against each other, the more I’m inclined to ignore it and just get on with stuff I like to do and not worry too much about others. I figure if I do what I believe is good stuff, something good should hopefully result from it.Fingers crossed 🙂

  2. There is a line to draw, but sometimes it’s not clear where it should be. I don’t see the “Them Vs. Us” so much on smaller engagements. I do feel a certain degree of separation is healthy as long as you can come back together and collaborate at the appropriate time.On a particularly large engagement, a BA would work with the customer to develop requirements for the Project C while developers were applying bug fixes for Project B while Project A was in testing. We (the testers) were finding issues and had questions related to design that could have been avoided had we involved earlier.On the flip side, I have allowed my own perspective to become blurred because of a personal relationship with the developer (no, not like that). We were good friends and he said something that made sense to me related to an interpretation of the requirements. I allowed my subjective guard to drop and missed something I would have usually caught.While each project is different, I prefer to collaborate on the requirements, collaborate on the design and test approach, even paired testing at each phase, but I also enjoy and enourage an isolated test cycle where your brain is free to do its job. Of course, we can collaborate once again on the results.

  3. Hi Rob,An all too familiar story I’m afraid.I just don’t get it to be honest, all too many times I’ve met or worked with testers who see their roles to block progress (a measure of success) rather than be an enabler who helps projects or programmes go live through assurance that it’s ready.All too often in team meetings I hear the them and us mentality, I nearly always challenge back with “so what are YOU doing to resolve this then” – it’s only taken a year but they are beginning to listen :-)Unfortunately I see many testers lacking the professional maturity to work on large scale programmes and projects – the stereo typical test attitude of not my fault is unfortunately alive and well.This is not to say it’s a lost cause, I believe it’s getting better.James

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