19 July, 2018

The Defect Dichotomy (A whimsical look at the mind of a tester)

Of course, every project has deadlines and milestones. I think I readily endeavour to understand 'The Big Picture'. Swept up in the wave of optimism that is surely prevalent at the start of all projects, I always seem to embark with the mindset that deadlines are paramount and achievable. I look at project projections and buy in to those timelines. I see what is expected of me in a spreadsheet that looks entirely reasonable. I set out my stall, planning to achieve the passing of tests in the time-frames predicted by myself and other planners.


In my mind as a tester, there exists a war. The opposing factions: “The Deadliner” versus “The Perfectionist”.



Initially, I dare to think, that if all goes just swimmingly: I'm 'The Man!'. I'm the guy that just turned this around; all this testing for my client, in perfectly planned timely precision. Pointing both thumbs to my chest : “This guy meets deadlines! High Five!” At this point I am possessed by “The Deadliner”!

And then I find something. Something bad.

“Why oh why oh why did I have to find something? I could have been that Deadliner guy. That guy made everyone's job so much easier.”

I see in my head some green coloured squares on a spreadsheet move further away and turn to red*

So I go through the process of raising the defect. At first I'm reticent. I'm annoyed. But then “The Perfectionist”, who was always there, sitting quietly in the background, just waiting, pops up and tries to take over. 

It was she who caused this. She decided that nothing not right will get through. And her case is very strong. She describes to me the impact of not finding defects; the impact to the client, our company and indeed my own reputation.

“Wait a minute!? I'm still 'The Man!?'. I have identified something that could have caused harm had it not been found!”

Two mind thumbs appear once more, accompanied by a smug grin. I am possessed by “The Perfectionist”!

And so I get back to running my scripts with those two little devils, one on each shoulder, constantly jostling for position. There really is no place for an angel in the mind of this tester.


I hasten to add: neither of them are me. I'm just the referee. They each get a fair hearing. I filter them through my prism of reason when I present their respective positions fairly to those around me. Those wisps of personality are fleeting. I don't consider myself to be a smug person, in fact, I rarely do that thumb thing. 

* I'm guessing maybe sometimes when deadlines are missed, there's this spreadsheet that demonstrates it, which involves coloured boxes or something. Never seen one as I don't miss deadlines…


By Tommy Cowan, Test Consultant, Edge Testing

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