woensdag 19 mei 2010

A lot on my mind...

Lately I've visited some presentations and read some stuff about certification, standardisation, evidence and the different opinions about those, and I can't help myself but I feel anger and frustration when I read certain blogs and the comments on those blog entries.
I find that a certification like ISTQB doesn't make me a better tester, but it didn't make me a worse tester either. What makes me a better tester, in my opinion, is that I explore different possibilities and what I find important is that I have knowledge on all areas of testing and am capable to use that knowledge in the best way for the organisation I'm testing for.
I find both knowledge on ISO, IEEE and BS (ISTQB) as usefull as other information and knowledge about testing (exploratory, agile, etc),not matter what origination. What I DO with it and HOW I use this information most in the most valuable and effective way is quite another issue.

I NEED structure that schools, trainings and courses provide to learn. I don't have the discipline to set myself to learn it all, although I can sometimes set myself goals and learn about stuff, that is not always the case. Certificates give me a certain feeling of pride, I don't know why, it is just so. That doens't mean I don't value or practice self eduction. What pisses me off is the fact that certain people don't respect that.

A couple of months ago I had a discussion on Twitter, that person even disrespected me even more by saying that 'if I wanted to learn testing I was always welcome to attend his course'. It was perceived by me that, because I was proud on having learned and passed the ISEB Practicioner exam, I didn't know about testing. The person in question could judge me completely on those couple of tweets posted.
In the same way home-made-psychology is used, this person KNEW as a fact that I didn't know how to test apparently. This felt to me as complete disrespect, give me some credits please!
My 'plan of approach' or the way I work preferably is that I know about all historical and new developements, THAN I use the knowledge to get to a effective and - for the client comfortable and understandable- way of working. This isn't directed by the ISO standard, the ISTQB certification or the teachings about exploratory testing and storybased testing. I don't think either way is better or worse, I think 'traditional' ways are as usefull as 'new' ways, both should be added to our own knowledge base and be put to good use. That could be that one way is totally unusefull for that particular organisation, but at least I KNOW the contents of what I dismiss and if I have a discussion at least I know what the theory says and can compare it to practical usage.

A filosopher once said that by knowing more, we even know less. I think certain people forget about that basic principle, for it could also be used in other perspectives. By teaching 'non schooling' you become that what you oppose to: a teacher that gives an outlined (and scoped) teaching. By evangelising a way of working it becomes (or has a chance of becoming) a (defacto) standard and that standard was the thing the evangalist was all against in the first place.

In one of the comments it was mentioned that development of the standard was taking five years, it was mentioned with a certain amount of disbelief and in a way that it was the 'fault' of the person that leads that particular project. This triggered another 'pissed at' moment.
First of all the development of the standard takes that long because prescribed procedure of ISO/IEC doesn't allow it to be shorter.
Secondly a lot of arguments come from people from a country that doesn't provide any subject matter experts to the project (except for an ISO 'veteran' who doesn't have software testing as expertise apparently), it's easy to have comments on something, but it's - IMHO- better to participate and provide valuable input or feedback so we can get to a better product. And again I like to mention here: a standard isn't a commandment, it's a GUIDELINE! (there seems to be a lot of arguments on that)

Some other writings that I read have whole argumental epistels on what they THINK is about to be presented. Why do I put it like this? Well the subject discussed (a track at EuroSTAR 2010) has not been presented yet and still whole arguments are already written about it, based purely on what the abstract (!!) states. Mind: it still has to be presented, so the arguments are based on - in my opinion a very non-testing thing- assumptions. The most worrying thing about this is that the arguments are stated by visionairs and thoughtleaders in the software testing 'science'. (I myself don't think it's a science but a profession) . The arguments are also written in an agressive, non respective way in my perception.
I really don't like these kind of developments, they give me chills and make me sad and angry. I cannot help myself by finding that having read the pieces a personal vendetta is fought out. This has nothing to do with 'making your point' I feel, but more like 'I'm always right and everybody else (and in particular that person) is wrong'. BLERGH!

All this stuff: It gives me a bad taste in my mouth, something similar as with discrimination and generalizing.
So let me share some thoughts:

I think everybody is entitled to have his or her own opinion.
I think everybody should be able to practice the way of education he or she prefers, without being judged on what path is chosen
I think nobody should judge something on assumptions (let alone argument on that judgement!) [and yes, I'm guilty too I guess]
I think everybody is entitled to respectfull manners no matter if you agree or disagree
I think nobody should be excluded from oppurtunities based on 'a piece of paper', but everybody should have an oppurtunity based on (valid) experience
I think nobody is 'better' of 'worse' based on 'a piece of paper' (but that also counts for 'having done a course' or 'not having a piece of paper')
I think everybody has a right to speak his/her mind (but doesn't have a right to 'go for the man' or has a right to do so on anothers expense)
I think there isn't a right way or a wrong way; it's DIFFERENT ways that matter


I think I think a lot of things right now. But most of all I think of one word: RESPECT
Let's all cherish this in a grande way so we can all be passionate about -what we feel is the best and most fun- way to practice the profession of software testing.

3 opmerkingen:

tponnet zei

Nathalie,
I agree with some of the things you say, for example that the "passion" for one school of thought shouldn't be the reason that you, as a person, are not taking seriously. This won't help the argument of either side.

It is sometimes getting tiresome to see two parties fighting it out in the public. But then again, I see this as a good thing - it's democracy in action. People can express their views openly and without fear of repression and I applaud them for doing that. As long as it doesn't degenerate into name calling I'm all for it.

A hundred years ago people might have challenged themselves to a duel with a choice of sword or pistol. At least using blogs means no life threatening injuries...

New communication channels like Blogs, Twitter, etc (you could argue about the new part) have made these discussions more immediate. It means that thousands of people now "overhear" or take part in a discussion that otherwise would be confined to a handful of people. My point is that more people now get emotional about it than if it were confined to a watercooler discussion at a software conference.

What's also relevant is that the "traditional" school of thought has some considerable weight behind them. I'd argue (read: in my experience) that non-testers are prone to listen to what that school has to say "They're established so we can trust what they say, right?"

Having someone question some of the more traditional views is quite important in my book so we don't get a one sided view and opinions sold as facts. I believe this to be a good thing as it can be an opportunity for everyone to learn and discuss.

Here's hoping that once the dust cloud settles we can discuss it and something positive comes out of it.

Michael Bolton http://www.developsense.com zei

Ultimately ALL education is self-education.

A big part of the problem in this deabate is that people are conflating certification and education. Education is cool. I welcome it. Delivering it is a big part of my business. I respect your desire for education and structure.

There's another way of interpreting the conversation and your interlocutor's offer to attend the class: "If I wanted to learn testing I was always welcome to attend his course" and/or any other course about testing. That's what I say, and if your correspondent is who I think he is, that's what he'd say too. I don't see anything in the part of your conversation that you've related here that indicates your correspondent had one opinion or another about the quality of your testing.

In addition (if you're referring to James Bach as an advocate of unschooling), he's very explicit that if schooling works for you, that's fine. He's talking to the audience for whom schooling doesn't work, and encouraging them to realize that that's okay despite what pro-schooling bullies
say. He's not advocating that any drop out of school if they're happy there (although he's certainly advocating that they should drop out if they're not happy).

If someone tells me that they'd like evidence that they've attended my class, I'll give them a certificate of attendance. If someone wants me to provide them with a personal reference, I'll gladly do that too, based on what I actually know about them. But I won't put them through a farcical multiple choice test in which, for each question, there is one right answer and three wrong answers. Why not? Because: a) it's bad testing, and I don't agree with bad testing; b) I don't agree with the report provided (certificate or no certificate, without a deeper story); and c) considering my objections in (a) and (b), taking money for them would be to me, unethical, and taking money unethically is tantamount to theft.

Moreover, certification is being used in exactly the way that Tom DeMarco describes: to DEcertify the majority. You know, I wouldn't mind that so much if the certification were skills-based, but it isn't. It's based on recall. I have a superb memory. Give me the answers in advance (as the ISTQB syllabus does), and I could ace the exam. But that's like the difference between being able to name something and being able to know it. In testing, knowing, not naming, is the important bit.

I think everybody is entitled to have his or her own opinion.

Agreed. Does that statement appear in the proposed 29119 standard?

I think everybody should be able to practice the way of education he or she prefers, without being judged on what path is chosen.

Absolutely—my community and I agree on this. We also agree that no one should be threatened with unemployment if they choose a different path.

I think nobody should judge something on assumptions (let alone argument on that judgement!) [and yes, I'm guilty too I guess]

Yes: welcome to being human. [smile] But there is existing evidence and strong inferences on what is to be presented, in the form of the abstract, and in the form of past experiences. Let me give you an example: "How testing ‘evangelists’ use their apparent passion to conceal a lack of evidence supporting their claims." Is this an assumption-free or value-independent statement?

I think I think a lot of things right now. But most of all I think of one word: RESPECT

I agree with that too. And my objection to the slant of the upcoming presentation, as presented, is the way in which it devalues the skill set and the mindset of the individual tester and that tester's context, in favour of certifications and standards set by those whose business model entirely depends upon them putting such goods on the market.

Michael Bolton http://www.developsense.com zei

Nathalie,

Ultimately ALL education is self-education.

A big part of the problem in this deabate is that people are conflating certification and education. Education is cool. I welcome it. Delivering it is a big part of my business. I respect your desire for education and structure.

There's another way of interpreting the conversation and your interlocutor's offer to attend the class: "If I wanted to learn testing I was always welcome to attend his course" and/or any other course about testing. That's what I say, and if your correspondent is who I think he is, that's what he'd say too. I don't see anything in the part of your conversation that you've related here that indicates your correspondent had one opinion or another about the quality of your testing.

In addition (if you're referring to James Bach as an advocate of unschooling), he's very explicit that if schooling works for you, that's fine. He's talking to the audience for whom schooling doesn't work, and encouraging them to realize that that's okay despite what pro-schooling bullies
say. He's not advocating that any drop out of school if they're happy there (although he's certainly advocating that they should drop out if they're not happy).

If someone tells me that they'd like evidence that they've attended my class, I'll give them a certificate of attendance. If someone wants me to provide them with a personal reference, I'll gladly do that too, based on what I actually know about them. But I won't put them through a farcical multiple choice test in which, for each question, there is one right answer and three wrong answers. Why not? Because: a) it's bad testing, and I don't agree with bad testing; b) I don't agree with the report provided (certificate or no certificate, without a deeper story); and c) considering my objections in (a) and (b), taking money for them would be to me, unethical, and taking money unethically is tantamount to theft.

Moreover, certification is being used in exactly the way that Tom DeMarco describes: to DEcertify the majority. You know, I wouldn't mind that so much if the certification were skills-based, but it isn't. It's based on recall. I have a superb memory. Give me the answers in advance (as the ISTQB syllabus does), and I could ace the exam. But that's like the difference between being able to name something and being able to know it. In testing, knowing, not naming, is the important bit.

I think everybody is entitled to have his or her own opinion.

Agreed. Does that statement appear in the proposed 29119 standard?

I think everybody should be able to practice the way of education he or she prefers, without being judged on what path is chosen.

Absolutely—my community and I agree on this. We also agree that no one should be threatened with unemployment if they choose a different path.

I think nobody should judge something on assumptions (let alone argument on that judgement!) [and yes, I'm guilty too I guess]

Yes: welcome to being human. [smile] But there is existing evidence and strong inferences on what is to be presented, in the form of the abstract, and in the form of past experiences. Let me give you an example: "How testing ‘evangelists’ use their apparent passion to conceal a lack of evidence supporting their claims." Is this an assumption-free or value-independent statement?

I think I think a lot of things right now. But most of all I think of one word: RESPECT

I agree with that too. And my objection to the slant of the upcoming presentation, as presented, is the way in which it devalues the skill set and the mindset of the individual tester and that tester's context, in favour of certifications and standards set by those whose business model entirely depends upon them putting such goods on the market.