You may know the situation; you are at a conference (or meetup) and you get talking to someone who says they “hate testing”. What do you do?
- Run away?
- Tell them to “man-up” and stop complaining?
- Join them in a whinge about Testing?
There are many other potential answers, but another one I’ve started doing recently is asking two simple questions. I’ll come to those two questions later.
Too many people say they hate Testing when in actual fact it can be the software itself, or the domain they are working in, or the methodology they are using. I strongly believe that you do your best testing when you “commit with passion”  to doing a good job. I also believe that to “commit with passion” (and therefore do your best work) you have to have some affinity to the product you are testing.
There are a number of factors that affect our motivation towards our jobs and the products we work on. These include, but are not limited to:
- company culture and ethos
- peers and co-workers
- management structure
- testing approach
- restrictive systems and processes
- technology stack
- company benefits and rewards.
- and many more
I believe that having an affinity with the product we are testing brings out the best in us. I believe that many testers who complain about testing are complaining about the factors above in varying combinations, but more often than not, they are complaining about the product they are testing.
Over the last few years I’ve made a conscious effort to talk to testers at events/conferences that plainly don’t want to be there. Many of them have indeed indicated that they hate testing.
When asked two simple questions though they fundamentally start to think differently about their “hatred” of testing. It’s not scientific, but it’s enough to give me hope that we can start to change some hearts and minds, one tester at a time.
The questions I ask anyone who says they hate their testing job are:
- What is your favourite piece of software?
- Would your view of testing change if you were testing this favourite software instead?
Most people smile and answer question two with a big fat yes. Yes it would.
It’s a very leading question and no doubt testing their favourite product conjures up images of a culture, approach and financial situation different to their current one, but a significant part of this vision or thought is most likely that they get to test a product that they enjoy, understand and can relate to in an environment that suits their personal style and preferences. (this vision may never meet reality…but it’s worth a try)
One person I spoke to a year ago was testing banking software and he hated it. I asked him the questions above and he said he liked “social media” software and would love to test it. A month or so ago I saw him again. He’s now working for a start-up blog aggregation company and he loves it.
That’s not to say that working on “social” software is better than banking software, but each of us is naturally more interesting in certain domains than others. Some would never dream of working in the aerospace industry, but others flourish in this industry. Some are drawn to start-ups pushing stuff out of the door and building on modern tech, others are drawn to corporate mega giants with miles of red tape and out-dated tech. Each to their own.
So next time you meet someone who says they hate testing it’s worth asking them whether it is “testing” they hate, or the product they are testing.
 – Commit with passion is a term used in the book The Jazz Process – http://www.jazzprocess.com/book/