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4 minute read - Racket

Q. Is the Testing role there to make you look good? A. No

Jun 16, 2021

TLDR; Testing does not make things look good, it makes things look the way they are. At which point we can improve, and then look better.

Testing does not make you look good

… unless you already are good!

There’s a phrase I have never used to describe my work, or when I am joining a team, and that is “I am here to make you look good”.

I mean I have seen online people saying “testers are here to make you look good”, “Testing is here make developers look good.”

I am not sure that’s the case.

I mean I’m here to make you look the way you are.

I am here to make you see a truth and sometimes, in the words of Warren Zevon, “it ain’t that pretty at all”.

Our job is to face reality and what we then do is we prioritize the screaming to fix the processes.

I used to think that advertising was there to make things look good but it isn’t.

Advertising ,is there to make things look their best in a truthful way because advertising is regulated, ads get blocked if they’re promoting things that are untrue or too hyped, or make false claims.

And then I thought well maybe it’s marketing. Marketing is there to make things look good to the right people, we don’t want to put our stuff out in front of everybody.

We want to filter it and that sometimes means telling things that are true because it will put some people off but they’re never going to buy us anyway.

Now maybe its sales. Maybe sales are there to make people look good. But it isn’t because they need to get a commission, and they only get paid the commission after the sales sticks.

So it isn’t any of those things.

And in reality, it’s not about good and it’s not about bad, it’s about better and it’s about communication of that.

So maybe what people say …

Or maybe what people mean when they say “testing makes developers look good”, is that they’re saying “we’re going to make you look good such that we can then make you better such that we can then communicate more effectively what you were doing iand the improvements that you have got.”

Maybe that’s what good means.

Maybe it just means helping people understand what you’re doing Well, so that they can see the progress and improvements that you’re making.

I am not sure.

But I do know that people that set out to make you look good Regardless are typically…

Politicians because they want your vote. And once they’re in for another four years, and they don’t really care.

Or spin Merchants whose job is to make you accept their message, regardless of the benefit it has to you, or the usefulness.

Or Con men who simply want to take advantage of you.

So I am not really there to make people look good on there to help make things better and help people understand how we make things better.

Some people might take this to mean that I’m there to make you look bad. But I’m not. Good, Bad, Evil, Saintly are not appropriate words.

We want to face reality:

  • the system is the way it is
  • the process is the way it is
  • we do things they way we do, because we do

What we want to know is what works. And we can’t gloss over that.

I’ve been on the receiving end of statements like:

  • “Why are you finding issues now, we need to release”
  • “Testing is taking too long, stop finding issues”

And the answer is usually a bemused look because the statements are incomprehensible.

I would understand them if I was told:

  • “Stop doing your job, we need to ignore reality for the moment, and just release it”

And the reality is, I’m not stopping them from going live. They want an excuse to ignore the reality of the situation and I’m not prepared to do that.

We can only improve the process, and testers can help improve the process, once we know what the problems are.