Know WHY you are doing this

Sitting in a Starbucks in New York at Broadway and W51 Street, enjoying my tall americano, I was looking thru some stuff and pictures I made during my visit at STP-Con that week. One of the things that kept resonating is a slide of Mike Lyles his keynote. It stated “Know WHY you are doing this”. It was one of his final thoughts. I took my iPad from my backpack and started writing.

Why am I a tester? Why am I doing this? I can say I just walked in to the testing profession. Back in 1997, I switched positions within the company I was working for. I started to work as a test automator in a new team of another department. A hard time for me. I did not have any guidance, I was just on my own. During my yearly review, I got slammed. My manager did not know what exactly I was doing. We had a serious discussion where he stated to I have to provide some tangible output. Go to the rest of the team and see what they need.
There I found out that not automating the tests was important but setting up the test environments. The environment had to be set up several times per release, that means delete connections, delete network elements, install new software and database, configure the network elements and set up the connections. I did that for two teams, different network configuration.
Here I found out I provided value to the team. My department head praised my work I was doing. I had an answer to the question “Why am I doing this automation work”

At a certain moment, we had some serious problems with making the end date of the release. One of the other team leads asked me if I could help him out and test some of the features of the application. I found some serious bugs, one of them a showstopper. I recognized that this investigation work brought some serious problems to the surface. The team lead was very pleased with my result. He asked me to become a part of his team. Again, I provided value to my colleagues and stakeholders. I had an answer to the question “Why am I doing this test work”

While I was in this new team, I became subject matter expert on several features of the application. As the department I was working for became more important worldwide and was recognize as the center of expertise for all network testing (management systems and network elements) activities, I started to learn (by reading) how certain new generation network elements were working and how to operate them. The moment the first new network generation element arrived, I started to build it up from scratch. I succeeded in doing that. I had it operational in our test network and my colleagues could use it. Side effect was that I was directly recognized as subject matter expert from that moment. But it was a pleasant one. A few months later, my team lead (the same person that convinced me to move to his team) called me up. He was in the United States for a meeting. He asked me “ What are your plans for next week?” I said “ Why?” He said “You have to install that network element you are working on. They have problems with it over here.” Before I knew it, I was on a plane to the United States. I arrived there and did ‘my magic’. Within 2 hours, I got the network element up and running, available for the local team to test with it. I made some friends that day.
All the learning effort I had put in, resulted in this great success for me at that time (3 years on the test job). It worked out great. I had an answer to the question “Why are you learning all the time”

A a person I like to investigate. I like to learn. I like to help people. These habits if you can call them like that, are the foundation of my career as a tester. I have more success stories which I can share with you, but than this blogpost will become very long.

So, why am I doing this? Why am I a tester? The answer is below.

  • To support my fellow testers so they can do their work without any major problems. To help them to get to their goals.
  • To prevent that serious problems in the software will reach our customers and prevent them from having a great experience with our product.
  • To be a person with knowledge and expertise, to be recognized as an expert. You have to learn all the time to earn the credits.

Note : I like to thank Mike Lyles. His awesome keynote at STP-Con in Dallas (September 2016) inspired me to write this blogpost.

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