Opposite Views

At EuroSTAR 2012 I got talking to someone who had polar opposite views to mine on Testing and Agile implementation.

Despite his opposite views and the fact I could counter almost anything he said from my own experience I knew deep down inside that he knew he was right.

His solution, albeit not something I would label agile, worked for his clients. He was passionate about the work he does and the people he helps. He held different views, but was contributing goodness to others in the industry and more importantly, he was getting results for his clients.

He was helping people succeed.

No matter what my opinions are there will always be people who hold different opinions, ideas and experiences to me.

In software development there are very few process level ideas and actions that are black and white. It’s difficult to quantify, measure and then compare two different approaches as there are so many variables…like budget, people, product, customers, skills and experience etc.

One approach that works over here, might fail over there.

A lot of people avoid talking to people who think differently to them but I believe that only by opening our dialogue with others who think differently will we truly learn about ourselves and alternative ways of doing things.

Isn’t it in this collision of ideas where true innovation and learning comes from?

I had a lot in common with the tester I met at EuroSTAR 2012. We’ve kept in touch since and despite his continued promotion of ideas at odds with mine we’ve become good friends.

At EuroSTAR he told me that he had found his calling in life.

Who am I to say his calling is worse than mine?

9 thoughts on “Opposite Views

  1. Great post – it is a good thing to have your thinking and beliefs challenged.
    Easier said than done though – the temptation is there to prove the other person ‘wrong’ rather than listen to what they are saying and understanding why they think the way they do.
    Any tips as to how to stop yourself from jumping into the ‘prove them wrong’ mindset ?

    1. Thanks Phil.

      I’m not so sure what tips there are other than to appreciate that what the persons says does not make the person. I was unable to separate what someone said with who they were, so if I disagreed with them, they were therefore someone I wouldn’t get on with. I’ve chilled out a lot recently and have started to appreciate that everyone has an opinion and whether I agree or not they are still entitled to that opinion.

      I’ve come to realise that burning energy on flaming someone else is counter productive. I’d rather use that energy to create something of value for the communities I’m in. We only have so much core energy and there will always be people on the Internet who are wrong 🙂

      1. Hi Rob,

        I listened to a great talk by Peter Boghossian the other day where he said “people require dignity, ideas do not require dignity” I think this is spot on.

        I think we do need to encourage rigorous debate though. There is so much rubbish spouted about testing. Its important to be able to clearly and logically reason through some of these myths such as “testers ensure quality”.

        In the video, Peter Boghossian goes onto say that not all opinions are right. Some beliefs are wrong. Some cultures are wrong. If you can think critically through and logically reason through an idea and conclude that its wrong, then I think its important to say so. Peter challenges the thinking in our society where we don’t want to offend people. I think there is an element of truth in this.

        The key is to be good at thinking critically. Part of thinking critically is being able to admit that your belief is wrong.

        Its late here, and I should probably be asleep, so forgive the rambling. The video is really worth watching though

        1. Hi Anne-Marie,

          Completely agree and for each of this persons arguments I could reason through and conclude a logical opposition. I suspect he might also be able to do the same thing. I think we’re dealing with very messy situations when we test with a huge amount of factors affecting the outcomes, most of which are often outside of our control. As such I often take the approach of saving my time and energy for creating something or challenging something I deem to be more important, rather than proving everyone I meet wrong. There is SO much wrong stuff being spouted about testing that it would be a full time job challenging all who disagree.

          There are exceptions to this and I will critically assess (to the best of my ability) many simple arguments about certifications etc, but again, I choose these carefully. We all only have so much time in life and I’ve stopped squandering mine on arguments with everyone I meet.

          That video is very good and ties in with a lot of what I’ve been reading recently about critical thinking and reasoning – thanks for sharing it. I think we should certainly not back down about our views and beliefs but in my mind it comes down to a simple decision about whether I have the time and energy to challenge people on their views when they aren’t fundamentally hurting me or directly making my life miserable. I have schools, local councils, community groups and other areas which do directly impact my (or my families) day to day life and it’s here where I focus my core energies. Saying that, I’ve not had a good debate at a testing conference for a while 🙂

          Thanks for taking the time to comment and share the video.


          1. “Completely agree and for each of this persons arguments I could reason through and conclude a logical opposition.”

            That’s true, but working from false equivalences means they won’t be equal in outcome… it’s a very slippery slope to work under the assumption that all opinions originate from the same level of experience…agree we should study and learn from opposing views, but as Douglas Adams said “All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others.” Thanks – KK


          2. Hi Keith,

            Thanks for commenting. Absolutely right, not all opinions are equal, but that is subjective to some extent. Beliefs can ride over the top of well formed arguments all the time. My concern is that we are destroying people’s enthusiasms for things they believe in (and have some evidence as being successful) just to prove people wrong. They may be wrong. That’s fine, but they may also just be living their life and seeking out people who would benefit from these “wrong” opinions and guidance – sometimes that’s not so harmful 🙂 Sometimes it is incredibly detrimental.

            Thanks for commenting.


Comments are closed.