Wednesday, February 1, 2012

stigma of the test manager -- part one

Last year, there was this mania about the death of testing. I don't know when it started, or who started it, but that doesn't matter now. Looking from the outside, I observed some of the staunchest testers I know almost lost faith because of the seemingly almost futile efforts of self introspection and not coming up with answers that could somewhat defend the value a tester can bring back to the company. Scott Barber (@sbarber) sum's the problem that is plaguing the software testing industry pretty well in this post.
"The under-informed leading the under-trained to do the irrelevant."
Sadly, this statement is very true and defines the individual characteristics that exemplify what I think is the stigma of a test manager; Ignorance, Incompetence and Insignificance. For the sake of this post, a test manager is defined as someone whom testers report to.

Ignorance is manifested when you either focus too much on your context and not look from the outside for better ways to improve your process or the complete opposite which is looking too much on the shiny toys that the outside has and you end up detesting your context. Incompetence is demonstrated when the test manager doesn't provide feedback that can improve the skill or correct a bad habit of a direct report. Irrelevance is a logical result of the first two, but this trait is usually personified by a test manager's refusal to champion the test team itself. That person doesn't usually know what everyone is doing beyond what they see on the status reports.

The craft of testing is not dead or dying. Testing needs to to be understood and re-evaluated. I do propose that the ignorance, incompetence and irrelevance of test managers need to die. I am not considering or suggesting that we murder them. I am simply saying that these traits need to die. Gory details in the next post.
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