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3 minute read - slogans

On being Nasty, Naming, Mystery and Therapy

Oct 22, 2019

This blog post is a collation of micro-blog posts which were reflections on slogans generated by The Evil Tester Sloganizer, and uploaded to LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. Covering topics such as “being nasty”, varying what we do, investigating mystery, role naming and therapy.

The following slogans were all automatically generated by The Evil Tester Sloganizer. And I then thought about what they might mean, and posted my reflections on Instagram. I’ve collated them here because they might trigger thoughts for you.

“I honestly believe I’m not nasty, I just act this way for your benefit”

on instagram

Sometimes people have to play the Devil’s Advocate on projects. Very often, that falls as a responsibility for the tester.

And sometimes that provocation can be viewed negatively by other people.

Adding in a dash of humour with your provocation might help.

This is the type of topic I discuss in my book “Dear Evil Tester”. And I also recommend the excellent book “Provocative Therapy” by Frank Farrelly.

“Do Something Else”

on instagram

As a “Heuristic” for testing “Do Something Else” can help focus our attention away from what we are doing to gain some new insights into what to do next.

For some people this could mean:

  • taking a walk,
  • making a coffee,
  • chatting to someone,
  • reading a book,
  • randomly choosing a word from a mnemonic list and thinking about how that might help.

It might also mean, focus on a different part of the application, view this functionality from a different perspective.

Variation makes a difference when we test.

“I think I might just test the mystery out of this system”

on instagram

My Evil Tester Sloganizer generated this statement a few days ago. And it made me think…

…when we test, we are trying to gain knowledge, build models, remove our assumptions by finding evidence, and in general trying to understand as much as possible about the application and how well it fulfils the functions we want from it. In other words removing the mystery, by testing.

This is not an absolute goal for testing, but ‘mystery’ provides an additional perspective on the notion of ‘Information’.

“Of course I’m not in the Therapy business, I’m in the Problem business”

on instagram

There was a point in time when I was tempted to call myself a Software Therapist. I’d read a lot of psychotherapy and hypnosis and used many of those techniques to help me work better with the people, and I used them to help me test the system itself.

I think it is important to experiment with different names for how you see your role.

One issue with that is that we often want to find a single ’name’ to cover all the work that we do. And a single name usually doesn’t. We most often do activities that span multiple roles and a single name often doesn’t do the work we engage in enough justice.

I toyed with:

  • Software Therapist
  • Systems Therapist
  • Systems Provocateur

But none of that really seemed to match what I did, and while they were ‘fun’ namings to adopt at different times and helped me adopt different mind sets for different contexts. None of them were useful enough to adopt universally.

Being in the problem business has the nuance that:

  • we find solutions
  • we find problems

And problems/solutions are not just related to Software. They are related to the Systems in place.

  • People
  • Organisations
  • Systems of Development

And… Problem Business, is also too limited.