Sunday, 18 January 2015

Inadvertent Local Optimisation

I saw this tweet the other day:
Followed swiftly by:
This got me thinking about a process I am often involved in. 

Reviews of 'testing capability and maturity' are a common product offered by many lone consultants & consultancies. I myself have done them on a regular basis, creating a number of (I believe) thoughtful strategies and recommendations that a client can implement themselves and/or in conjunction with a partner.

I like to think, I've probably done some good too. Looking for root causes over the dreaded 'low hanging fruit' that so many consultants recommend (see drug dealer).

When I really reflect though, I'm pretty sure most things I have recommended are inadvertent local optimisation. Conducting a review into testing is a classic misdirection, as a great many problems in how testing is done in an organisation, are symptoms of wider problems. A subsconscious misdirection, but a misdirection nonetheless.

Next time, before engaging, I'll ask:

  • Where does attending to the needs of your people come on your priority list?
  • Does work get done based on value or who can shout loudest?
  • Have you got too much work in progress?
  • Do you have teams with all the skills needed to deliver and autonomy to solve their problems?

Once we've dealt with these root causes, then we can talk about testing. Or we might not need to, perhaps dealing with what is systemic will assist with clearing up those symptoms.

Maybe Doctors and Consultants should share the same oath:
"First, do no harm."