Thursday, December 24, 2009

"Innovation for the sake of Innovation" - Does it really help?

Below is an yet another interesting remark in the book- "Inside steve's brain"

When asked by Rob Walker, a New York Times reporter, if he ever consciously thinks about innovation, Jobs responded "No. We consciously think about making great products. We don't think, 'Lets’ be innovative! Lets take a class! Here are the five rules of innovation, let’s put them up all over the company!" Jobs said trying to systemize innovation is "Like somebody who's not cool trying to be cool. It's painful to watch...Its like watching Michael Dell try to dance. Painful."
Image Source:

Well, i see pearls of wisdom existing in above statement about Innovation. In most of the organizations, the employees are "asked" to be innovative or are given training on how to be innovative. (To be clear, i have nothing against such trainings in general.) How many times have you heard the statements like-

"You should have found the creative solution"
"Why cant you think a bit more innovatively to solve the underlying problem ?"
"Lets think out of box"
"Please think of creative test ideas"
"Try and think beyond boundaries and solve the problem at hand"

After reading Steve Jobs' notion about Innovation, it really makes me wonder whether the above statements about "trying" to make an individual innovative really had a profound effect. Did it really change the world ? Hearing these statements- does it really raises one's Innovativeness quotient ?

Every time I think, the answer is more leaned towards a "No". While encouragement and motivation are required in any situation, but per my experience an individual does not really become creative by a constant push from someone or by some sort of weekly training. I believe at the root of every innovation or a discovery (no matter how small it may be) is a burning desire to do something or make a difference. In the case of Jobs' it is that inherent desire to make great products. If a deep passion is missing, no matter what anyone says- Innovative ideas will cease to exist or die after a short burst.

From my profession, a tester will be genuinely creative only if he desires to and takes immense pride in releasing products that the customers can use with ease and without issues. It is this desire (apart from necessary skills) that will drive him to regularly come up with test ideas that matter.
If for innovation sake, somebody gives a direction to tester to find creative test ideas- it will lead to directionless Innovation, which is often a waste of time and resources.

Citing another instance from the same book below.

Wanton Innovation is wasteful. There must be a direction, something to pull it all together. Some Silicon Valley companies develop new technologies and then go in search of problems for those technologies to solve. Take the Internet bubble of late 1990s. The bubble was defined by this kind of thinking. It was a carnival of worthless innovation- half-baked business ideas pumped into vast money-burning concerns in a misguided attempt to get big quick and beat the competition.

Do drop in your comments!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Enhancing your Reading Skills- Are you for it ?

While reading "Competition 360" magazine, i came across a very interesting piece of article by Prakash Iyer on the topic- "Leaders are readers. Are You ?"
The URL for online version of article is as under:

Some beautiful thoughts from this article-
- It has been rightly said that there is very little difference between an illiterate person- who cannot read- and a literate person who does not read. Time to ask yourself the question: are you one of those literate illiterates, too ?

- If you want to take a simple step towards expanding your mind and improving your life, start reading. A book can change your life.

- If you read for just half an hour everyday, you could finish a 250 page book in just two weeks' time. That's twenty six books a year. A hundred books in next four years.
Just think, what difference would that make to the quality of your mind, your career, your life ? Just thirty minutes a day can do the trick, so stop giving excuses about not having the time to read.

- It allows you to peep into some of the finest minds in the world. Reading a book is like having a conversation with the author, listening to his stories and learning from his experiences. You can get ideas, inspiration and thoughts- all from a book! Every book you read becomes a layer of knowledge you can stand on. And every book makes you grow taller, just a little bit. So, remember, in the supermarket of life, the best things are always stacked on the uppershelves. If you are not a reader, you may never be able to reach them.

- American comedian and film star Groucho Marx was right. He once remarked that he found television very educating. He said, 'Every time someone switches on the TV, I walk into another room and start reading a good book!" Get the Groucho habit. Pick up a book Today!

- Leaders are readers. If you look around, you will find that most successful people are reading. Visit their officies, and you will find books strewn around. Visit their homes, and you will find a well stocked book shelf. Take a leaf out of their books. Start reading.

These thoughts are something that i completely resonate with. In this fast paced world, when every human being is trying to differentiate from the person next to him by all means possible, it is apt to realize that the real differentiation happens within mind. And Reading is one of the activities that helps one give an edge and helps one grow.

Irrespective of the profession one is in, Reading appropriately only helps one move in one direction. Upwards!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Uncovering Myths about Globalization Testing- Knowledge of Native Language

Myth 20: If i dont know German at all, i can still effectively test a German application

Referring to Globalization Testing Myth# 4 i talked about why "A person who doesn't know French cannot test the French version of the Software" is a myth.
There is one relevant thought as i was going through Bj Rollison’s interesting blog on Localization testing.
In one of my past experiences, while testing a consumer application- there was a very critical bug that got overlooked resulting in a lot of noise generated by the customers. Basically, the team was involved in testing an update to an existing version for different languages. As none in the team was an expert in the language ,the pure focus of this update testing was to test the changed areas (and none of the changed areas included UI specific changes) with least focus on UI regression as nothing had changed.
After a while the update was released, it caused immense confusion to the customers based out of Germany. The prime reason for confusion was that they were now seeing the User Interface in a "different" language than German, which needless to say offended many customers. And as this was a consumer application, it did affect many home users. The corrective update with right language pack was soon delivered to the customers.
The Root cause analysis of this issue result in crucial learning for all the teams involved. While this issue was mostly because of wrong resource file being referenced for German build, which could ideally have been caught during unit testing. From Testing team's perspective, this issue could have been found earlier by some sort of a checklist that would have been in place which could help a test engineer distinguish between languages by means of checking the presence of language reserved characters etc. This would be highly effective while testing "similar" looking languages.

So, even though one is not a language expert, it does add value to know the nuances of languages enough so as to help test engineers make more informed decision on what he/she is testing.