Thursday, December 30, 2010

Do you commit to OAD while testing ?

One of the concepts that Robin Sharma talks about in his book Greatness Guide is that of OAD. OAD is nothing but Obsessive Attention to Details . He uses this term in the context of Customer Service. He says-

leadership isn't about your position, it's about the way you show up each day, If your yard or home is well- organized, I'll bet your life is well-organized. If you are attentive to details like the birthdays of your friends and sending thank you notes after every meeting, my guess is that you are attentive to the details around your big projects and best opportunities. So pay attention to the details. Sweat the small stuff (like crazy). Commit to OAD: Obsessive Attention to Detail the best people and organizations do; Because the little things grow into the big things.

Customers are always the one paying great deal of detail in assessing the Service or the Product they are using. There is perceivably no limit to the level of details they can go and form an opinion about the offering. It only becomes imperative for the organizations to be exhibiting that level of detail in its operations.
Isn’t Attention to details a key trait when you are testing a Software product ? It sure is.

The degree of good testing a tester does often depends upon the level of details one’s mind can traverse through. Taking a leaf out from learnings out of Robin's words, "Just" Attention to details while testing is not enough. What is needed to stay competitive in today's world where Customer is like a god is to commit to "Obsessive" Attention to details. Someone once said- "God lies in details". In Software Testing context, isn’t it true that "Bugs lies in details" ?

The word "Obsessive" usually sound like negative in work context but i feel it is synonyms with the word "Passionate". A mind Passionate about Software Testing notices even the minor details, no bug escapes an alert mind. Unless a tester is obsessively detailed oriented, the bugs are bound to be migrated for customer to notice.

Be Fearless. Commit to Obsessive Attention to details!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Breaking the Shackles...Beat that "Thai Elephant" Syndrome in you

While reading Project Management- A Comedy of errors by Prasanna Kumar, i came across the below story-

When a Thai Elephant is small, its trainer ties one end of the rope around the elephant's leg and the other end to a rigid pole. The baby elephant tries to sever this rope and set itself free, but the rope is too strong for a baby elephant. Eventually it gives up.
Even after Elephant becomes a three tonner, the mahout continues to use the same rope. The reason is, as a baby elephant it is conditioned to think that it cannot break the rope. The Elephant does not realize the awesome power it now has.

This story is not only true of Thai Elephants only but also has a striking resemblance with the way us humans think and act. I feel one of the reasons why people fail to take risk or choose to stay safe in life is because of the passive thinking that is strangled like the giant leg of Thai Elephant.

So, the next time your mind wanders and tells you that you are not capable to do something, just ask yourself- "Am i strangled from my past thoughts like the Thai Elephant ?"
Nothing is impossible! If you think you can, you can! Beat your fears, Insecurities and back yourself to do the new.
Just break-away from those imaginary shackles from the past.

Wish you a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sense of Urgency- A Key skill in the Professional's toolkit

The Story:
Vineet Nayar, the HCL CEO -in his book Employees First Customers Second , narrates one story of his encounter with a race car driver during one of his flights-

As we sipped a glass of wine before dinner, he told me about an incident from his past. It seems he had been in the middle of a race when his brakes failed. he asked if I ever had that experience. "No", I said, "What did you do?"
"What do you think my options were? " he asked.
I thought of a number of possibilities, but i really had no idea.
"Most drivers would do one of two things," he said "First, they try to get the brakes to work. Or ,second, they slow down. The first option distracts the driver and puts him at risk of a crash. The second option makes him a hazard to other drivers and also puts him at risk of a crash."
"So what should you do?" I asked.
"Speed up"," he said. "Accelerate past the other cars and then take whatever action is necessary."

Doesn’t this story sound like reminiscent of what we experience mostly at the workplaces ? After reading the first part of the story, my mind teleports to the days when every task that one handle is of highest priority and at the same time each task is unrelated, of completely different nature. Add to this, if you have some pressing things at home to attend to, then you have a cracker of a day at hand. To me, that for sure sounds like a case of driving a car whose brakes have failed and during such days you often wonder where is this car going to eventually end.
The second part of above story does suggests an rather out of box solution. Speeding up is usually the last thing to think of in that situation. The question that crossed my mind is - What prompts a human being for any action when in crisis or even when attending to Important things ? The more i think about it, the more my thinking gets skewed towards one trait called as "Sense of Urgency" in this situation.

What is Sense of Urgency ? defines Sense of Urgency as - "A sense of urgency is the attitude and process of treating key business or personal matters as if one's life depended on it. It is determination to stay focused on results and deadlines until the task or project is completed."
A Sense of Urgency is something that makes one work harder with the desired focus to work towards achieving your goals. People who imbibe Sense of Urgency gets things done faster and it is often a positive differentiator in life.

Does Inculcating Sense of Urgency help you work better ?
Employees who do not possess Sense of Urgency,
- Are perceived as having Casual Approach towards work.
- Often tend to miss deadlines.
- Miss the vital instructions that could help them do the tasks better.
- Often miss out on competition.
- Have their own ideas of work performance and are happy satisfying that.
- Are often at the receiving end of reminders to complete the tasks.
- Find it hard to understand/meet Work commitments.
- Tend to get easily satisfied with the Status Quo even if it is of average quality.
- Do not generally think beyond the obvious to complete the work.

Keeping the above points in mind, the answer to the question- "Does Inculcating Sense of Urgency help you test better ?" to me is, Why not ? For Example-Take a look at any successful Testing effort, you will find that it follows a well-defined mission. A mission is that end goal that is kept in mind and which is determinant of success for a test engineer. All along when a person is testing, he/she tend to utilize the various thinking patterns- System thinking, Creative thinking to come up with the consistent stream of test ideas. Testing outputs are often always time bound. It is a well-known fact that testing if done without consideration of risk can be an infinite activity. It is the Sense of Urgency that helps a test engineer maintain his focus, help prioritize the tests and do what is best for the moment. Testing is often done in Timeboxes. Unless a test possess required Sense of Urgency in addition to Testing skills, the testing would often tend to lose the foresight and will spill over the Timebox.

How can i inculcate Sense of Urgency ?
In the book The Road Ahead , Bill Gates said that a secret to Microsoft success is that the employees always think of themselves to be in the losing side, and this makes them strive to be number one everyday. This attitude creates a sense of urgency which makes them work hard to survive in the highly competitive environment of IT industry.

All along i have known one way to Inculcate Sense of Urgency and that is to consider the current task at hand as "THE MOST IMPORTANT" task as if your job is dependent on the successful completion of that. Try out, it works if done honestly.
So, go into the next work session as if it is the most important session in your professional career.

Is Sense of Urgency always a positive trait ?
Today i was reading one of the recent blogs from Vineet Nayar- Speed Kills. Slow is Fast. It presents quite a reasonable view on how in today's world, when the expectations are sky high, when decision needs to be made in split seconds, the age old notion of decision making by considering the balanced view (all possibilities) of any situation seems just that- age old. Surface thinkers are vastly gaining prominence. In this competitive world, what seems to be lacking is someone taking comprehensive view of any situation and come up with an appropriate views to handle stuff at hand. The point is that Sense of Urgency does help speed up things but in the mad race sometimes the very reason why something is being done a takes back seat. Do read this blog to gain that precious perspective.

What is your experience regarding the "Sense of Urgency" trait ? Do share your views and comments.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Help Chandru!

If you have not already visited Pradeep Soundararajan's blogpost- Help Chandru live his testing dreams! , I would really request you to once go through the same and provide any help you can.

Chandru is a fellow tester from India who has been diagosed with Blood Cancer at a young age. From what i know from Pradeep, this guy is a fighter and is not going to give up anytime.
Would urge you, Dear reader to come forward provide any help you can. Afterall, it only proves how closeknit, responsible, sensitive and committed is the Testing community.

For more details visit the blog