Skip to main content

Bad Work



Careers often hinge on shifts in mind-set and I feel as if I have gone beyond a turning point in how I regard my career. In fact I think it is the first time I have taken true ownership of my direction and values, instead of inheriting and adhering to those of another entity, namely an organisation. This realisation concerns not doing what I would call ‘bad work’ (anymore).

Before I go on, let’s specify what I believe to be bad work:
  • Making a promise to stakeholders about delivery you know to a high probability you can’t keep.
  • Not flagging up information that may impact the decision a stakeholder may make.
  • Knowingly doing valueless work, as ordered by a stakeholder.
  • Implementing an exploitative strategy which preys on the ignorance of a stakeholder.
  • Treat someone inhumanely by hiring (or training) them to effect a particular change, then telling them how to do it.

The journey began in March 2013, I listened to a chap named Huib Schoots speak at TestBash 2013, in Brighton. He spoke of refusing to do bad work. I was in awe of the concept of someone taking ownership of their own work in such a way. Also my existing programmed behaviours railed against the concept, internally believing that this was idealistic and didn't translate to the ‘real world.’

However, my awareness grew and grew. I saw others exhibiting the behaviours I saw above, also caught myself on that path on occasion. I spent a significant portion of my time on a project solving a problem that no one could define and indeed no one had complained about. Eventually we delivered a system which would secure the future of that product for the foreseeable future, however, my discomfort was sharp throughout this time. Had we solved the problem? Maybe, maybe not. Had I sat in relative silence or at least acceptance of this fact? I had indeed.

Now, I’m a fairly generous chap, the propensity to do bad work exists on a continuum of consciousness, where people do it unwittingly (“I've been testing this for ages and have developed inattentional blindness to that problem”), ignorantly (“Yes, this will be tested for all possible scenarios”) or knowingly (“I have some information you need to make decision, but it suits me to retain that information”). We've all existed on this continuum, although hopefully, like myself, on the ‘honest fool’ end of that scale.

As I ventured into the world as a consultant on more strategic engagements I noted instances of the above behaviours with increased regularity. These were often disguised as pragmatic steps, picking off ‘low hanging fruit’, sometimes more blatant than that, aiming to be indispensable, rather than giving stakeholders the tools needed to tackle their problems. I favoured the latter, which often brought me into conflict with stakeholders on all sides of the divide.

So, I decided to follow my values and do something else, with a group of people I respect on a product with grand and hopefully (at least partially) noble ends. One thing I do know is that my career compass is pointing in a different direction now and I feel strong enough to follow it.

As well as my own experience, this was inspired by the following articles:



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Testers Guide to Myths of Unit Testing

One area that testers might be able to enhance their contributions to software development teams is how we perceive and contribute to unit testing. I believe testers busting their own illusions about this aspect of building something good would bring us much closer to developers, and help us realise what other layers of testing can cover most effectively.

Also, I want to do a talk about it, so I figured I would test the premise, see if potential audiences were into it. I put this on Twitter:
Working on a talk about what testers might believe about unit #testing & how we interact with developers creating unit tests. Any challenges/additions for my list below? #development#agilepic.twitter.com/4oT5HE4qs3 — Ash Winter (@northern_tester) December 19, 201730 replies with ideas tends to indicate that people might be into it. 
The ListI thought, as my final blog of 2017, I would provide a super useful list of the myths and legends we as testers might believe about unit testing:
That developer…

Wheel of Testing Part 3 - Applications

I've only had to quit two jobs to finally find the time to finish this blog series. Winning at life. If you need reminders (like I did) check out Part 1 and Part 2 before reading on...

After the first two blogs regarding the Wheel of Testing, I was delighted to receive a few requests for the wheel itself, which got me thinking about applications of it, beyond what its original intent was, which I've explored in detail in part 1 of this series of intermittent blogs. Most models need a little air time to show their value, in software development we crank out models all the time, but I'm not sure how many get used. I am inspired by models such as the "Heuristic Test Strategy Model" by James Marcus Bach, as I have used it and seen the benefits it has brought for my clients, particularly the ability to ask questions. So, I wanted to create a model which has a number of use cases, both real and imagined:

Helping to unlocking a career in testing which may be stuck

It is no…

Why do Testers become Scrum Masters?

It was late and I was stuck on a train, so I pondered on the question of why do testers often (in my experience) become Scrum Masters. Its a very dear question to me, as its been a big part of my career journey In fact, I've been there and back again. Tester to supposed-to-be-testing-but-being-a-Scrum-Master to Scrum Master, back to Tester and very happy thank you.

I encapsulated my reasoning in the following:
Long train delay, decided to think about a thing. :) Why do testers (in my world anyway) often become Scrum Masters? #testing#agile#scrumpic.twitter.com/FGGXFiBGz1 — Ash Winter (@northern_tester) February 13, 2018The tweet got a lot of traction, and generated a couple of interesting threads which made me think.
Great list. Personally I think that as a scrum master I can add even more towards the goal of quality. — Christian Kram (@chr_kram) February 13, 2018 Perhaps part of the reason for the transition is a growing appreciation of where quality has its roots? If testing i…